#5 Swiss Spirit Lola B07/10-Audi
Drivers: Jean-Denis Deletraz (CH), Iradj-Alexander David (CH), Marcel Fassler (CH)
Best Time: 3m42.626s (Deletraz)
The first car to be allocated an Audi R8 customer engine made its first appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours last night. The unique combination of Lola chassis and Audi engine produced a superb result in its very first race at Valencia two months ago with a podium position. With just the test day laps under their belts and little other development running, the first qualifying session saw Iradj Alexander David and Jean Denis Deletraz conduct more testing laps before Marcel Fassler took over, albeit briefly. The former DTM driver was denied an outright fast qualifying lap by the red flag caused by a large accident for Marco Apichella's Lamborghini.
For the second session, held initially in damp conditions, Alexander again took the wheel but suffered an accident early in the session. The Swiss racer who is still gaining experience in LMP cars went off on the exit of the first Mulsanne chicane, lightly damaging the front of the Lola B07/10-Audi.
"It was unbelievable as I was being so careful," said Alexander. "I was on slicks and following the advice of the team to be very precise and gentle, but when I accelerated out of the first chicane and the turbo kicked in it just went around and I hit the barrier on the right."
Despite the accident team morale is still very high and Alexander's team mate is confident that should the conditions allow the Audi engined Lola can be positioned in to the top ten.
"The car felt very good in the test days and with new aero development pieces from Lola we will be in great shape for the race I am sure. It was tough for Iradj but we are a close team and these things sometimes happen."
#15 Charouz Racing System Lola B07/17-Judd
Drivers: Alex Yoong (MAL), Stefan Mucke (D), Jan Charouz (CZ)
Best Time: 3m37.373s (Yoong)
Overall: 11th Charouz
Racing System kicked off their first Le Mans race week in spectacular fashion when Alex Yoong had a brief excursion in the early exchanges of qualifying one. However, the former F1 driver completed his initial run successfully, lapping impressively before handing over to Jan Charouz who was midway through his stint before a lengthy red flag halted proceedings.
Summing up the teams programme during the rain affected first day, Charouz Sporting Manager, Sam Hignett said: "We were working on completing 13 laps. This was the first time Stefan Mucke has raced in the dark and Jan (Charouz) did what he had to do. The most important thing tomorrow will be to give the drivers more laps in the car. It will be a bonus if it's dry and we will take the opportunity to go for it."
Jan Charouz, "The speed looks a lot faster in the dark. It was hard getting use to the lighting and also the flashes from the photographers. There were loads of red flags and a lot of traffic, so I was pleased with my time."
#39 Chamberlain-Synergy Lola B07/10-AER
Drivers: Bob Berridge (GB), Peter Owen (GB), Gareth Evans (GB)
Best Time: 3m44.721s (Berridge)
Overall: 16th Class: 15th
The Chamberlain Synergy team enjoyed a good initial qualifying session in their distinctive yellow Lola LMP1 last night. All three drivers drove in the first session with Bob Berridge ultimately setting a best time of 3m44.721 in what is the trio's third attempt at the 24 Hours together.
Gareth Evans was the first of the drivers to venture on to the circuit and set consistent times in the mid 3m40's showing his ever gaining confidence in the now Michelin shod Lola-AER. Peter Owen took over from Evans after 40 minutes and the Humbersider again lapped confidently in the car overseen by experienced Le Mans campaigner Hugh Chamberlain. Chamberlain is confident that the team, who also rely on the engineering knowledge of Dave Lampitt, will be in prime position to get a good finish this weekend.
"We are better prepared than ever this year. The team know each other very well and we know the car so actually it is all very much on schedule with our plan. We are changing the engine today and getting the car in race shape. We may not even need to go out in the later session this evening as everything is very comfortable for us."
#25 RML MG-Lola EX264 AER
Drivers: Mike Newton (GB), Tommy Erdos (BRA), Andy Wallace (GB)
Best Time: 3m49.217s (Wallace)
Overall: 21st Class: 6th
Two times LMP2 Le Mans winners, RML Ltd are gearing up for an historic hat-trick of wins at Le Mans wins this weekend and the team had to overcome some minor mechanical problems in the initial qualifying sessions yesterday. All three of the Wellingborough based teams drivers managed to get laps in during the sessions despite the loss of track time and Andy Wallace turned in a superb lap at the very end of the final session that was good enough for 6th in class. All three of this year's RML drivers tasted success last year and Tommy Erdos believes that the team are in excellent shape to attempt the hat-trick win.
"The team reacted very well to the problem we had tonight and that combined with the weather meant that we had to adapt quickly," confirmed the 'Britzilian'. "Andy did an exceptional job and we will get more laps in tonight. Overall qualifying is not our prime focus as we need to ensure all is on target for the 24 Hours."
#31 Binnie Motorsport Lola B05/40 Zytek
Drivers: Bill Binnie (USA), Allen Timpany (GB), Chris Buncombe (GB)
Best Time: 3m49.217s (Buncombe)
Overall: 18th Class: 3rd
Binnie Motorsport had a great start to their Le Mans campaign last night with the Anglo/American Lola setting a fastest time good enough 3rd place in the LMP2 class. The teams newest driver, Chris Buncombe has proved himself to be a potential sportscar star of the future with a competitive 3m48.173s on the Kumho shod Lola LMP2 racer. Set early in the session, Buncombe is still learning in both Le Mans prototypes and at the Le Mans circuit. His laps were ably complemented by team owner Bill Binnie and LMS regular pilot Allen Timpany who turned in solid and consistent laps with the Zytek powered LMP2 Lola. The team's engineer, Roger Parkes was delighted with the way their sessions went and believes that there is a lot more to come from the team that finished an excellent 2nd at La Sarthe last year.
"The test at Snetterton was the jewel in the crown, as we found out a lot about the car and we getting the reward today,~" said Parkes. "Given the conditions and traffic, the drivers did a fantastic job. The wet tyres were working really well, which is an encouraging sign for the race. Chris Buncombe really impressed me this evening. He looked very hungry and he's an excellent team player. The support around him is paying off".
#40 Quifel-ASM Team Lola B05/40 AER
Drivers: Bill Binnie (USA), Allen Timpany (GB), Chris Buncombe (GB)
Best Time: 3m49.217s (Hughes)
Overall: 17th Class: 2nd
Quifel-ASM may have had a slight name change since last season but the team continue to prove fast and reliable on the track at Le Mans. The team completed 29 laps last night with Warren Hughes set the fastest time, good enough for 2nd in the LMP2 class. His team mates, Miguel De Castro and Miguel Amaral have impressed so far this season in the Le Mans Series with a win in the Valencia 1000kms. Both are eager to add a Le Mans class victory to their already impressive record.
"We've ticked all the first boxes. We're taking a cautious approach, so it was not an all out effort today," stated Warren Hughes after the sessions. "However, we were very happy with the run. It felt easy, and I'm confident that could easily get two seconds quicker. We've achieved exactly for what we planned at the start of the day. "The car has great downforce," continued the former works Lola-MG driver. "All three drivers feel very safe, which gives you a great platform to start building quick lap times. The changing conditions will suit the car and the team, so it could be an interesting few days ahead."