Aston Martin claims GT1 provisional pole

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Tomas Enge claimed the provisional GT1 class pole in the first qualifying session for the 78th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans aboard the Aston Martin of Young Driver AMR. If the predicted rain arrives for the second day of qualifying on ...

Tomas Enge claimed the provisional GT1 class pole in the first qualifying session for the 78th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans aboard the Aston Martin of Young Driver AMR. If the predicted rain arrives for the second day of qualifying on Thursday, the Czech driver's lap of 3:55.025 will stand up for the pole position for Saturday's race start.

Enge wasn't counting on the class pole just yet. "It should have been raining tonight and it wasn't," said Enge. "So maybe it will be dry again tomorrow night."

Recovering from the accident of Romain Grosjean in the opening practice session that ripped the rear wing off, the Ford GT of Matech Competition shared by Thomas Mutsch and Jonathan Hirschi took second in the GT1 category, 2.271 seconds adrift from Enge's DBR9.

The Luc Alphand Corvettes C6.R's came third and fourth on the time sheets, a little more than four seconds back from the provisional GT1 class pole.

"I don't think the Ford or the Corvette showed what they can really do," said Enge. "But we are comfortable with what we have and we will be able to show what we can do in the race."

In a tightly packed GT2 field, Gimmi Bruni took the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari to the provisional pole with a lap of 3:59.213, edging the No. 63 Corvette by 0.864 seconds. The No. 64 Corvette that was quickest in the opening practice took third in the qualifying session, just 1.779 seconds back on the 8.47-mile course.

"The car was not right (in practice)," said Bruni. "After we made a change after talking with (co-driver) Jaime Melo we went in the right direction and it was better."

The first seven cars on the GT2 time sheet were separated by just 3.382 seconds, remarkably close given the track's length. That group included the IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche, the Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche and the two Ferraris of AF Corse.

"The quality of drivers from America and Europe is so high and the factories are making such a high effort," said Bruni. "The drivers are as good as the drivers in LMP1."

Jan Magnussen, who qualified the No. 63 Corvette, declared himself satisfied despite finishing behind Bruni.

"I'm very happy with where we are," said Magnussen. "There's more qualifying tomorrow, and maybe we'll have another go at it. It's fun chasing a lap time, it's good for team morale, but it's not what we're really here to do. It should be said that we don't have a qualifying setup -- this is the car that we're going to race with. So far, so good, no major issues."

The brace of BMW Motorsports M3 E92's were 5.753 seconds (No. 78) and 6.618 seconds off the provisional pole of the Ferrari in 10th and 11th on the provisional grid.

One of the annual contenders at Le Mans, the Flying Lizard Porsche, had teething problems with a brand new chassis that had not turned a wheel prior to the first practice and ended up 15th in class on the provisional grid.

Once again, the Jaguar XKRS of Jaguar RSR suffered problems, this time with a clutch early in the opening practice. The team ran six laps during the four-hour practice and 11 laps during the two-hour qualifying session and was listed 54th of the 55 cars on the provisional grid.


See also: Peugeot domination remains in first qualifying

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Series LEMANS