Audi wins provisional pole

Tom Kristensen turned the fastest lap of the day on Wednesday to win the provisional pole position for the 69th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kristensen, driving an Audi R8, turned the Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:32.458, leading the LMP 900...

Tom Kristensen turned the fastest lap of the day on Wednesday to win the provisional pole position for the 69th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kristensen, driving an Audi R8, turned the Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:32.458, leading the LMP 900 class as well as the rest of the 48 cars participating in the first day of qualifying. A second round on Thursday will set the starting grid for the race, which begins at 4 p.m. local time on Saturday.

"My team-mates Frank (Biela) and Emanuele (Pirro) dialed the car in very quickly. I had a few runs on new tyres. The best one was the one just after 10pm," Kristensen said.

"It was my first flying lap and it was almost clear. That does not happen often at Le Mans so I am very pleased."

Audi led the first three spots in qualifying followed by the Japanese-built DOME of Dutchman Jan Lammers, the Chrysler of Olivier Beretta and the two British Bentleys of Martin Brundle and Andy Wallace.

Australian David Brabham didn't get the chance to get behind the wheel of his Panoz after the #12 machine was delayed with a broken propshaft.

The second Panoz machine also struck problems with a broken driveshaft.

"We didn't have a good opening night, but the guys are working very hard to try to improve things," Brabham said.

"We won't go for running qualifying tyres tonight. Our aim is to put some more miles on the car and try to sort out all the bugs.

"There has been some talk or rain on the weekend, which may be an advantage to us."

The MG of Anthony Reid led the LMP 675 class for the lighter, less powerful powerful prototype cars while Ron Fellows headed the GTS division aboard his Corvette. The Canadian however, later crashed at one of the Mulsanne chicanes.

The Callaway Corvette pulled a surprise to top the GT class. The American car is the sole opposition to a fleet of Porsche GT3-RS machines.

Final qualifying kicks off tonight at 7.00pm (local time) <pre> QUALIFYING 1. - Kristensen/Pirro/Biela - (Audi R8) ­ 3:32.458s 2. - Aiello/Capello/Pescatori - (Audi R8) ­ 3:33.514 3. - Herbert/Kelleners/Theys - (Audi R8) ­ 3:34.349 4. - Lammers/Hillebrand/Crevels - (Dome-Judd) ­ 3:36.031 5. - Beretta/Wendlinger/Lamy - (Chrysler) ­ 3:36.155 6. - Brundle/Ortelli/Smith - (Bentley) ­ 3:36.535 7. - Wallace/Leitzinger/van de Poele - (Bentley) ­ 3:37.408 8. - Coronel/Johansson/Lemarie - (Audi R8) ­ 3:37.451 9. - Gache/Beltoise/Policand - (Courage-Judd) ­ 3:38.746 10. - Dalmas/Montagny/Sarrazin - (Chrysler) ­ 3:38.814

-Paul Ryan

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Andy Wallace , Jan Lammers , David Brabham , Tom Kristensen , Ron Fellows , Martin Brundle , Anthony Reid , Ryan Paul , Olivier Beretta