Le Mans, France, the three Audi Sport R8's set the pace in the first official practice of the 24 Hour of Le Mans weekend. Driving the number seven R8, Rinaldo Capello laid down a time of 3:37.523 outpacing his second place teammate Frank...
Le Mans, France, the three Audi Sport R8's set the pace in the first official practice of the 24 Hour of Le Mans weekend.
Driving the number seven R8, Rinaldo Capello laid down a time of 3:37.523 outpacing his second place teammate Frank Biela and the third place Audi of Allan McNish. "At the beginning the surface was very dirty because other cars were going off track. On my fast lap I did not encounter much traffic, I think I've never had a clear lap at Le Mans before," commented Capello. The first place Audi ended the session nearly two seconds faster than the closest non-Audi competitor - a Panoz.
The practice session was not without drama for the Audi team. The number eight racer driven by Emanuele Pirro suffered a punctured right rear tire while going down the fast Mulsanne straight, which was quickly repaired by the Joest Team. "I'm quite happy with the car and our performance. I did my fastest laps on race tires so there is clearly more potential for the second qualifying session," commented Pirro.
Midway through the third hour of practice engine trouble sidelined the number seven, driven at the time by Christian Abt.
"The drivers and our technical observers around the track told us that the car looked very smooth and stable, proving that our setup worked perfectly from the beginning. Our cars are very close together at the front, but we also encountered some unexpected problems which the team was able to solve quickly," said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Sport AG.
The Audis will take to the track again this evening for the final session of qualifying to set the grid for the twice around the clock event.
<pre> First session times:
1. Audi R8 Abt/Alboreto/Capello 3:37.523 2. Audi R8 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro 3:37.595 3. Audi R8 Aiello/McNish/Ortelli 3:37.653 4. Panoz Brabham/Magnussen/Andretti 3:39.156 5. Panoz Katoh/O'Connell/Raphanel 3:41.359 6. Lola Schiattarella/de Radigues/Naspetti 3:42.188 7. Lola Lammers/Kox/Coronel 3:43.584 8. Reynard Johansson/Matthews/Smith 3:44.012 9. Panoz Suzuki/Kageyama/Kageyama 3:44.599 10. Panoz Tschuyia/Kondo/Lida 3:44.627