The big question hanging over Le Mans this year is ... Peugeot or Audi? The two manufacturers are battling for honours in the LMP1 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and qualifying suggested the battle could be extremely close as the teams traded fastest laps right down to the wire in the first session in the dry and also ran closely in the wet.
Peugeot admitted that this year, their first with the Peugeot #908, was being regarded as a test, a practice run in preparation for challenging for victory in 2008, but after a strong qualifying performance the team now find themselves in the hunt in 2007.
"We can't say anything right now," said #8 Team Peugeot Total driver Sebastien Bourdais. "It's really tough in practice to know what they [Audi] have done. I've heard some comments about all these drivers, they said that we were doing this or that, they haven't got a clue, and we don't either to be honest with you.
"I think if anything the biggest improvement they can have made from last year to this year is fuel consumption, because the power hasn't changed that much when you look at it closely they haven't had so many evolutions but if anything they tuned the balance and found something more appropriate to the car, and the drivers seemed to be much happier with the car, and they made a significant jump with the consumption, so it may be tough for us."
Frank Biela hinted at these changes in the Audi press conference. "Last year saw that the R10 was a very good solution, there was just details that needed to be modified. These have now been done and at first sight you wouldn't see that. Last year the power came on so suddenly - this year we have improved that."
Alan McNish returned compliments about the Peugeot entry - the #2 Audi Sport North America driver spoke about his observations of the Peugeot cars in the test and qualifying sessions: "I have seen Peugeot on the monitors and they are always there. There have never been conditions in which they have been slow. They are a very good team and they have a very strong car."
Bourdais concluded that it was impossible to predict what was going to happen, "We have no idea [about fuel consumption] because they will never go the full distance to give us any kind of indication. We haven't got a clue what load they will start with, what tyre they will use, how hard they will push, this and that. There are so many factors in the system that you will know until who is doing what until it is properly done."
Both teams share the front row with the #8 Peugeot of Bourdais, Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin on pole position and the #2 Audi Sport Team America of McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen in second place.