Peugeot has proven to be unbeatable in the first qualifying for next weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans. By being the only driver to break the 3:20 mark, Sebastien Bourdais drove the No. 3 Peugeot to the provisional pole. Because of bad weather conditions expected for Thursday evening, this provisional pole was already celebrated by the Peugeot team as pole.
Early in the session, Nicolas Lapierre surprisingly drove his costumer Peugeot to the first spot with a large gap between him and the Peugeot works teams. A couple of laps later the Frenchmen had to park the No. 4 car behind the will with fuel pick-up problems, which brought their day to an early end.
Lapierre's time stayed on top of the time sheets for a long time, until Sebastien Bourdais improved the fastest time with 1.5 seconds and became the first driver to break the 3:20 mark. No one at the track had an answer on Bourdais' time, which put the Peugeot of Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud and Pedro Lamy on provisional pole.
The Peugeot of Bourdais will provisionally share the front row with the No. 1 car of Team Peugeot Total, with Alex Wurz, Marc Gen? and Anthony Davidson behind the wheel. This Peugeot was after 13.6km of racing only six thousandths of a second faster than the No. 2 Peugeot (Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny and St?phane Sarrazin).
Even though the Oreca Peugeot had to be parked early in the session, its fastest time eventually was fast enough to keep all Audi's behind. The lack of pace at Audi was one of the biggest surprises of the day, the fastest Audi was the No. 9 car with a 3.8 second gap on Peugeots provisional pole.
As expected, the fight for the LMP2 went exclusively between the HPD's of Highcroft and Strakka Racing. Earlier in the day Highcroft had beaten Strakka in the first free practice, but in qualifying Strakka took revenge with Jonny Kayne putting a 3:36.168 on the clocks.
Highcroft Racing drivers David Brabham, Marino Franchitti and Marco Werner weren't able to threaten this time and had to take a provisional second P2 position on one second distance of the pole sitter.
The final grid will be set in Thursday with a second qualifying starting at 19:00 / 7 pm CET and final qualifying at 22:00 / 10 pm CET.
See also: Aston Martin claims GT1 provisional pole