The ALMS at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Each of the Four Classes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Have ALMS Representation Le Mans, France - On a night when Panoz Motor Sports toyed making a serious run at the GT2 pole, weather proved to be a less than ...
The ALMS at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Each of the Four Classes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Have ALMS Representation
Le Mans, France - On a night when Panoz Motor Sports toyed making a serious run at the GT2 pole, weather proved to be a less than cooperative culprit with rain, often heavy at times, soaking the 8.4 mile high-speed circuit at La Sarthe.
Panoz Motor Sports, which had the second fastest GT2 time in last week's practice session, had its goals set on a pole qualifying time, but backed off because of weather and mechanical issues. The No. 77 Esperante GTLM of Bill Auberlen, Robin Liddell and Scott Maxwell discovered a steering rack issue while the team of Marino Franchitti, Bryan Sellers and Sebastien Bourdais encountered fuel pressure problems.
"Conditions just weren't right for us to make that type of run," said Team Manager Ed Triolo. "But tonight's another night."
Final qualifying begins a 7:00 p.m. local time and is conducted in two, two-hour sessions: 7-9 p.m. and 10 p.m. until 12 midnight. To qualify in the world's oldest and longest endurance race, all three drivers must do at least three laps during the 'designated' darkness period, which begins at 10 p.m. In addition, all drivers have to do a time within 110% of the fastest time in their class or 125% of the average lap times of the three fastest overall calls, or risk being sent to the back of the grid.
During yesterday's first session of qualifying, the American Le Mans Series fared best in the LMP2 class, registering the top two times. The Intersport Racing trio of Gregor Fisken, Liz Halliday and Sam Hancock posted the best class time (4:11.719) of the night while Miracle Motorsports with John Macaluso, Ian James, and Andy Lally were slightly more than a second (4:12.754) off that pace. Intersport Racing won the LMP2 class a year ago led by 20-year-old Clint Field.
In the top prototype class, LMP1, Champion Audi began to make its move, with its two teams recording the second and fifth fastest times of the night. Champion's No. 2 Audi R8 team of Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Allan McNish were less than a second (4:02.027) behind the top team from Pescarolo Sport (4:01.197), while the ALMS season point leaders of JJ Lehto, Marco Werner, and Tom Kristensen as third driver, driving Champion Audi's No. 3 posted the fifth quickest lap of 4:07.643. Kristensen is going for his sixth consecutive Le Mans win and record seventh overall.
The Grand Touring classes showed considerable strength among teams that have run in the ALMS. In GT1, the Aston Martin team of David Brabham, Darren Turner and Stephane Sarrazin - winners in their inaugural run at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hous of Sebring in March - posted the second fastest time (4:22.600) with teammates Tomas Enge, Pedro Lamy and Peter Kox having the sixth quickest lap. Corvette Racing's two entries of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Max Papis were eight and ninth, respectively. Fellows, O'Connell and Papis are the defending Le Mans GT1 champions.
ALMS teams appear to be very strong in GT2. While Panoz Motor Sports bounced back from its earlier stated difficulties for the fourth best time (4:32.904) of the night, Alex Job Racing/BAM! with Leo Hindery, Mike Rockenfeller and Marc Lieb drove their Porsche to the third fastest time (4:32.235) with the Petersen/White Lightening Porsche having the fifth best lap (4:33.107). All were around seven seconds behind GT2 leader Raymon Narac in his No. 76 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans can be seen live on the SPEED Channel, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and concluding on Sunday (6:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.). SPEED will show 17.5 hours of competition. The ALMS returns to action on July 4 at Lime Rock Park on SPEED (3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. EDT).