FRANCE: Qualifying Day One 24 Hour Le Mans

The crack Audi team dominated the opening qualifying session for the Le Mans 24 Hour in France tonight, but Australian David Brabham has closed the gap to the German trio. The Audi of Michele Alboreto, Christian Abt and Rinaldo Capello set the...

The crack Audi team dominated the opening qualifying session for the Le Mans 24 Hour in France tonight, but Australian David Brabham has closed the gap to the German trio.

The Audi of Michele Alboreto, Christian Abt and Rinaldo Capello set the pace to be fastest overnight, but both Panoz Motorsport machines made great strides under the Le Mans night sky in the second evening qualifying session.

Both David Brabham (Car #11) and Hiroki Katoh (#12) improved their time in the second session, Katoh moving up to fifth fastest behind Brabham.

While the three Audis headed the timesheets, none of the trio made great strides in the second two hour session.

With day one now complete, Brabham is pleased with the progress of the V8 powered red machines.

"We have certainly made a lot of improvements throughout the night," Brabham said.

"There are several things which we intend to change overnight, but our aim for tomorrow will be to further develop this chassis into a strong racecar for the 24 Hour.

"We need to work more on mechanical grip to eliminate oversteer and improve traction. Aerodynamically, we have made enormous progress since the test day, we just need to fine tune the package.

"I don¹t know whether we can topple the Audis in qualifying, but it will be important for us to fix the rear. We can probably pick up a bit of time there as well getting better tyre wear."

Brabham¹s team-mates Jan Magnussen and Mario Andretti also sample the car ­ Andretti reacquainting himself with the Le Mans circuit after dark.

The dark conditions proved a bonus for Hiroki Katoh who improved more than 3 seconds in the second session.

Katoh, Johnny O¹Connell and Pierre-Henri Raphanel efforts to improve further however, were hindered by cooling problems with the #12 car.

"The car was good during the hot lap, but I still had a little bit of understeer as well as traffic," Katoh said.

Final qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hour will be staged tomorrow night from 7pm-9pm and 10pm-12midnight (France time) <pre> QUALIFYING - PROTOTYPE DIVISION 1. Alboreto/Abt/Capello Audi 3:37.523 2. Aiello/McNish/Ortelli Audi 3:37.653 3. Biela/Kristensen/Pirro Audi 3:37.886 4. Brabham/Magnussen/Andretti Panoz 3:39.156 5. Katoh/O'Connell/Raphanel Panoz 3:41.359

-PAUL RYAN-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Jan Magnussen , Christian Abt , Mario Andretti , Michele Alboreto , Hiroki Katoh , Pierre-Henri Raphanel