TODAY at le mans:

Friday, June 14, 1996

12:15 a.m. after final practice/qualifying session


In its first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Oldsmobile's advanced Motorsport Aurora V8 posted the seventh fastest qualifying time against a field of the world's best sports cars. Lead driver WAYNE TAYLOR of Altamonte Springs, Fla., piloted the Doyle Racing Oldsmobile Riley & Scott Mk-III to a time of 3:47.635, earning the seventh starting spot in the 48-car grid. Taylor's time was less than one second behind the TWR Porsche team's pole-winning lap at 3:46.682 (215.985 kph).

Five Porsches and one Ferrari qualified ahead of the American-made Riley & Scott Mk-III, which was the quickest V8-powered entry in the 48-car field, and the second quickest naturally aspirated engine. The DOHC Motorsport Aurora V8 is based on the production 4.0-liter Aurora V8 which is available exclusively in Oldsmobile's flagship luxury performance sedan.

"It was a very good lap, and the engine was tremendous. This motor's been around the world now -- it's already done the equivalent of the 12-hour Sebring race in testing and practice," said Taylor after turning his best lap at 10:25 p.m. as darkness fell on the Sarthe circuit. "I think there might have been another half a second to be gained if I'd taken a second lap with the tires properly warmed up. We haven't devoted any effort to trying to qualify well, so I'm happy with the time.

"I thought I was going to bite off the end of my tongue when I took the Porsche Curves flat out in fourth gear," Taylor confided. "That's pretty nerve-racking, but the car is good enough that I was able to keep my foot down.

"This is the closest I've ever seen the competition at Le Mans," Taylor commented. "It's very impressive to see the seven fastest cars within a second of each other on a course that's 8.5 miles long!"

Friday is an "off day" for the teams at Le Mans, with a parade in central Le Mans the only event on the schedule. The Riley & Scott crew will install a fresh Aurora engine and complete the final preparations for its attempt at an unprecedented grand slam in international endurance racing.

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