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Peugeot leads early practice running

Peugeot's fleet of 908 diesels set the pace in the opening hour of practice at Le Mans while Audi stuck to a methodical working pattern, leaving the Peugeot drivers to out-do each other at the top of the timesheet.

The Peugeots were among the first to leave the pitlane and the #2 car driven by Nicolas Minassian was straight on the pace, setting a 3m35.219s on its third flying lap before returning to the garage. Anthony Davidson then took up the attack in the #1 908, hitting 3m33.000s and then 3m29.422s.

Audi made a more cautious start, sending both works cars out for installation laps before bringing them back in for close examination. Tom Kristensen emerged again 40 minutes into the session and went second fastest in the #7 R15 Plus with a time of 3m29.654s, only to be pushed down to third when Olivier Panis put the ORECA Peugeot fastest with a 3m28.450s.

Simon Pagenaud then sliced a further two seconds off the fastest time in the #3 Peugeot. At the turn of the hour Kristensen emerged again and posted a 3m27.885s, followed by Fassler in the #8 car with a 3m27.365s.

There were mixed fortunes for the petrol-powered LMP1 cars. Jean-Christophe Boullion was second fastest in the Rebellion Lola B10/60 in the early running, lapping in 3m33.469s. As the faster diesels improved their times they pushed the Rebellion car down the list, and then the two Aston Martins demoted it from the top ten. The ORECA-AIM Courage halted with a battery problem as it left the garage before essaying its first lap.

In LMP2, Danny Watts set the benchmark time in the Strakka HPD ARX.01c. His 3m40.245s fastest lap was three seconds clear of the team's nearest rival, the HPD-powered #25 RML Lola.

Christoffer Nygaard led the GT1 field for Aston Martin with a fastest time of 3m59.221s. The Ford GTs continue to circulate despite fears that their ECU programming may cause engine damage when the pitlane speed limiter is engaged; the VDS entry driven by Bas Leinders, Markus Palttala and Eric de Doncker is the fastest Ford, on 4m01.665s.

Chevrolet leads an exceptionally competitive GT2 field. Oliver Gavin brought the #64 Corvette round in 4m03.266s. Jan Magnussen set the #63 car's fastest time of 4m03.414s, just over a second quicker than Mika Salo in the AF Corse Ferrari. The Felbermayr Porsche was just under four tenths off, driven by Marc Lieb.

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