Audi's triple Le Mans 24 Hour race winner Frank Biela recorded the fourth fastest time in warm-up trials for this year's round-the-clock marathon today (4 May) - before crashing off at high speed on an oil covered track. The 38-year-old German...
Audi's triple Le Mans 24 Hour race winner Frank Biela recorded the fourth fastest time in warm-up trials for this year's round-the-clock marathon today (4 May) - before crashing off at high speed on an oil covered track.
The 38-year-old German had clocked a 3min 39.016secs, an average speed of almost 140mph, around the 8.62-mile track in his British prepared and entered Audi Sport UK R8 sportscar. Biela, who has won the annual French marathon for the past three years, lost control at over 120mph.
, who stepped unharmed from the car, remarked:
"I hit oil in the Porsche Curves and went off. I tried to 'catch' the slide but went on to the grass and the car's right rear impacted with the wall. I saw no oil flag warning me of the danger. I'm very sorry for the team - I just hope we can fix the car. Up until that point the test had gone very well."
Biela shares the Audi Sport UK R8 with ex-Formula One driver Mika Salo, of Finland, and Britain's Perry McCarthy.
McCarthy added: "Before Frank's incident, our performance today had shown that we'll be in contention for race honours - as a team, we've been greatly encouraged by our performance. I made a mistake going into the first chicane during the afternoon session, my front brakes locked up causing me to run wide into the gravel."
"Today was the first time I had driven at Le Mans and it's a very beautiful circuit," Salo confirmed. "I was pleased because with every lap I was quicker so that's very encouraging for me."
Fifty-six cars were "invited" to contest the eight-hour time trials in preparation for this year's marathon on 14-15 June that will see a capacity 50-car field compete in the 71st running of the Le Mans race. The Bentley of Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello/Guy Smith set the fastest time, a 3min 34.820secs.