Aston Martin Racing's preparations for the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours got off to a good start today, when its two DBR9s topped the GT1 timesheets. Heavy rainfall made track conditions at the La Sarthe circuit treacherous, but both cars ran...
Aston Martin Racing's preparations for the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours got off to a good start today, when its two DBR9s topped the GT1 timesheets.
Heavy rainfall made track conditions at the La Sarthe circuit treacherous, but both cars ran faultlessly. All six of the team's drivers completed their mandatory three-lap night qualification and the team is now focusing on the final qualifying sessions on Thursday night.
1st QUALIFYING (1900-2100hrs; 2200-2400hrs)
CAR 007: 1st GT1 (12th overall) 4:31.179s
Drivers: Darren Turner, Andrea Piccini, Tomas Enge
Having missed the Le Mans test day two weeks ago, Darren started out behind the wheel. He used the two sessions to reacquaint himself with the 13.65Km track, before handing over the Andrea. The 27-year-old Italian is new to Aston Martin Racing and Le Mans, and he used the two sessions to gain vital experience. Tomas was the last driver to get behind the wheel and he worked closely with the engineers to perfect the wet weather set-up of the car.
CAR 009: 2nd GT1 (14th overall) 4:32.053s
Drivers: Pedro Lamy, Stephane Sarrazin, Stephane Ortelli
Pedro started off in the car and evaluated the different Michelin wet weather tyres. Stephane Sarrazin then took over the car and, aside from a harmless spin, he racked up valuable mileage before handing over the Stephane Ortelli, who completed the most laps of the two drivers.
George Howard-Chappell, Team Principal, Aston Martin Racing commented: "Everything went well today and everyone in the team did a good job. Thanks to the rain, the sessions were pretty meaningless, but it's still nice to have the cars P1 and P2.
"We concentrated on the wet set-ups of the cars, and the drivers seemed happy with the way they handled. Aside from that, we ticked off all the formalities: all the drivers completed their night qualification laps and we now look forward to Thursday's final qualifying sessions.
"The local weather systems are being very unpredictable, so we don't know what conditions to expect. I'm just glad that we got lots of dry running under our belts at the test here a couple of weeks ago."
Darren Turner (Britain): "It was quite exciting out there because the conditions were bad, and as the light faded you couldn't see the puddles. I've yet to do any dry running here this year, but the car feels good."
Andrea Piccini (Italy): "This is my first Le Mans 24 Hours and this evening I had my first experience of the track in the dark. It was quite hard in the wet, but I'm getting more comfortable with every lap."
Tomas Enge (Czech Republic): "The weather meant that this was not a particularly helpful day. When it was raining hard, it was quite dangerous there and it was just a question of surviving."
Pedro Lamy (Portugal): "Everything went quite well, although the conditions were not easy. The amount of water on the track varied all the time, but I was able to so some useful tyre comparison work."
Stephane Sarrazin (France): "Conditions in the second session were easier because only the first part of the track was wet. The rest of it wasn't too bad and the car handled well on the wet tyres."
Stephane Ortelli (Monaco): "This car has exceptional traction; the V12 is powerful and easy to use. The track conditions were really bad and I did a lot of work with the electronics."