SERIES TEAMS SOLID AFTER FIRST DAY OF LE MANS QUALIFYING LE MANS, France (June 14, 2006) - The dominance of American Le Mans Series teams in the GT classes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is continuing. Aston Martin Racing is on the ...
SERIES TEAMS SOLID AFTER FIRST DAY OF LE MANS QUALIFYING
LE MANS, France (June 14, 2006) - The dominance of American Le Mans Series teams in the GT classes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is continuing. Aston Martin Racing is on the provisional pole in GT1 as is Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing in GT2 after a wet first day of qualifying Wednesday.
Meanwhile Series teams were in the top three in the two prototype classes at Le Mans, setting the stage for another championship showing by North America's premier sports car racing series. Thursday sees another four hours of qualifying in what is expected to be drier - and hence faster - conditions.
Darren Turner piloted Aston Martin Racing's No. 007 Aston Martin DBR9 to a lap of 4:31.179 for top class honors. He will share the car with Tomas Enge and Andrea Piccini. The No. 007 entry was 0.874 seconds ahead of the No. 009 sister car of Stephane Ortelli, Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin.
Also in GT1, the ACEMCO Motorsports S7R was fourth fastest Wednesday. Corvette Racing's two Corvette C6.Rs saw limited time as all six drivers completed the minimum three laps each to gain eligibility for the 24 Hours, per ACO rules.
Jorg Bergmeister put the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at the front of the GT2 field after the first day. A past Le Mans class winner with Petersen/White Lightning, the defending American Le Mans Series GT2 champion turned in a lap of 4:39.912. He was 1.711 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor, the French IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche. Next was the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Johannes van Overbeek, Seth Neiman and Patrick Long were fourth in class with a 4:46.888.
"It was not quite as scary out there as it was in the earlier session, but visibility (was) really bad," van Overbeek said. "There was a point on the track with the lights bouncing off of the mist and the rain hitting the windscreen when visibility was non-existent. It's tough to tell how the car is performing, but I think overall, things are going well. We won't get much in terms of setup out of this session today, though."
Also in the hunt for premium qualifying spots was the Panoz Esperante GTLM of Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz, a winner at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
In LMP1, Audi Sport Team Joest's two diesel-powered Audi R10 TDIs are third and fourth on the overall grid after Wednesday. Allan McNish set the fastest time for the No. 7 entry at 4:17.189. He is sharing the R10 TDI with Dindo Capello and seven-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen; the trio already have won at Sebring in the new Audi prototype. There was some drama for the car, however, as Capello spun the car near the Tetra Rouge esses, just before the entrance to the Mulsanne Straight.
Frank Biela, who won last year's American Le Mans Series LMP1 championship with Emanuele Pirro, was a half-second behind McNish in the No. 8 Audi R10 TDI. A three-time winner at Le Mans, Biela will split driving time with Pirro and Marco Werner. Audi team officials brought the car into the garage shortly after Capello's off.
Intersport Racing's Lola B05/40-AER was third in LMP2 as reigning Series LMP2 champion Clint Field posted a fast time of 4:34.160. A class winner at Le Mans in 2004, Intersport is back at the 24 Hours with Liz Halliday and Duncan Dayton. Also in the mix was Miracle Motorsports' Courage C65-AER of John Macaluso, Ian James and Andy Lally.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at 5 p.m. local time (11. a.m. EDT) on Saturday, June 17 and finishes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 18. The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel in North America and in Europe on MotorsTV, which will have flag-to-flag, extended 24-hour coverage. Live radio coverage will be available at www.radiolemans.com.
The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the New England Grand Prix, set for July 1 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. The race is scheduled for a 3 p.m. EDT start. CBS Sports will televise the event from 4 to 6 p.m. EDT on July 2. MotorsTV will air the race from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. CET on July 2. Live coverage will be available at americanlemans.com with American Le Mans Radio and IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.