Le Mans, 15TH June 2001.... After a frustrating first qualifying at Le Mans, Team Bentley's EXP Speed 8 Le Mans GT Prototypes still ended the session in good shape, holding 6th and 7th positions with times of 3min 36.5sec and 3min 37.4sec ...
Le Mans, 15TH June 2001.... After a frustrating first qualifying at Le Mans, Team Bentley's EXP Speed 8 Le Mans GT Prototypes still ended the session in good shape, holding 6th and 7th positions with times of 3min 36.5sec and 3min 37.4sec respectively for the number 7 and 8 cars.
While both cars ran well throughout the session, all chances of climbing higher up the field were removed first by Martin Brundle's Number 7 car running over some debris, causing a puncture which pitched the car in to the gravel at Mulsanne Corner - and then oil being deposited at the first chicane slowing the entire field.
Brundle commented: `It was a fairly scary moment but I've had worse. I was more worried driving it back to the pits on three wheels. I think I collected the debris when I had to go around a slower car at the exit of the second chicane and drive on a part of the track that's not normally used. It's a shame because the car is quick and it blew our best chance. Realistically I don't think pole would be possible because we don't have a true qualifying tyre here, but for sure we could have gone faster. Even so, we still have tomorrow and we just have to hope our luck runs better for us.'
Andy Wallace set the fastest time in the Number 8 car but was similarly frustrated: `The car is terrific and going absolutely perfectly but I didn't get a single clear lap. There's a huge amount of traffic and a considerable variation in driving standards too.'
Brian Gush, director of engineering operations and motorsport said: `I can't believe we're actually here, it's wonderful. There is a great team spirit matched by a determination to succeed. Everyone has worked incredibly ahrd to get us here in such a short period of time and while the evening has not gone perfectly for us, I'm very happy with the shape we're in.'
Team Principal Ricahrd Lloyd said: `It's the first time Bentley has competed at Le Mans in 71 years and to be amongst the leading cars first time out is very satisfying. We're here to finish and gain as much experience as we can, however I feel encouraged for our hopes in the race.'
Sarah Perris, Bentley Motor's worldwide communications director said: `It's a good start for us though of course it would have been nice to have had the chance to show our true pace. What matters more however is that the cars continue to run well and are clearly extremely competitive. Hopefully we will go even better tomorrow.