Guy Smith first qualifying report

The Bentley of Guy Smith and co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello claimed provisional pole-position for this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours. Smith, 28, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, concentrated on setting the car up for the race...

The Bentley of Guy Smith and co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello claimed provisional pole-position for this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours.

Smith, 28, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, concentrated on setting the car up for the race leaving co-driver Kristensen to set the qualifying times in the opening four hour time trials.

Kristensen, chasing a fifth Le Mans triumph, stopped the clock at 3min 32.843secs, an average speed of almost 146mph, around the 8.48-mile circuit in France.

Guy reflected: "Tom did a couple of fantastic laps to eclipse the 'sister' Bentley which had topped the time-sheets after two hours. Once we had got provisional pole, I jumped in the car and concentrated on getting a good race set-up.

"It's one thing to set a one-off fastest lap but obviously in a 24 hour race, you need to reproduce those times throughout and so it's vital to get a car that is consistent, relatively easy to drive but fast and that's was my role."

British marque Bentley took the fight to reigning Le Mans 24 Hour race champions Audi by dominating the opening qualifying sessions. The "sister" Bentley of British duo Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell, plus Australian David Brabham, was second fastest on a 3min35.222secs to underline the sleek Bentley's pace.

Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, co-drivers with Kristensen for the past three years, set the third and fourth fastest times in their respective British and American entered Audi R8 "open top" sportscar.

"It was vital we 'banked' a good, quick qualifying lap time tonight as the weather forecast is not looking too good for the final four-hour qualifying session held on Thursday evening," added Smith.

"Tonight it was very hot and humid with the faster times being set just after 10pm but thunderstorms are expected so we could be in very good shape."

-gm/jh-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Johnny Herbert , David Brabham , Tom Kristensen , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Mark Blundell , Emanuele Pirro