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Peugeot dominant in first practice

The three works Peugeot 908s and the factory-supported ORECA entry held the top four positions at the end of the opening practice session ahead of this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours.

Audi's R15 Plus is a clear improvement over last year's car but it has yet to equal the Peugeots' pace around the Circuit de la Sarthe, with the Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello, Allan McNish car best of the rest in fifth.

After the drama of the opening hour, as the Peugeot drivers outdid one another with a string of ever faster times, the session settled down with the majority of teams content to work through their pre-planned programmes.

Loic Duval kicked off the final hour by breaking into the 3m21s bracket, half a second under the previous quickest time. The ORECA Peugeot topped the list for another three laps before Franck Montagny led the factory's response, finally delivering a sizzling 3m20.034s on the last lap of his stint - a second and a half faster than Duval.

Montagny subsequently revealed that he had been using the same set of tyres over three stints.

With 15 minutes to run, Stephane Sarrazin took over from Montagny, and Sebastien Bourdais got in the #3 car in a final battle for the top, but although Bourdais improved his car's time it was not enough to clinch the number one spot.

Nicolas Lapierre completed the session in the ORECA Peugeot but did not beat Duval's time. The Wurz/Gene/Davidson car which set the initial pace ended the session in fourth.

The best Audi could manage was 3m23.935s, nearly four seconds off the quickest lap of the day.

Aston Martin's Lola-based coupes finished best of the petrol-powered cars, behind the factory Audis. The Hancock/Turner/Barazi and Fernandez/Mucke/Primat entries ended the session eighth and ninth.

Greg Mansell took six seconds off the previous fastest time set by the Beechdean Ginetta-Zytek he shares with father Nigel and brother Leo. 3m35.500s was quick enough to lift the car from the bottom of the LMP1 list.

David Brabham was the class of the field in LMP2. Even his own team-mates couldn't match his fastest time of 3m38.691s in the Highcroft HPD ARX-01c. Danny Watts and Jonny Kane ran Brabham close in the rival Strakka entry, which finished one position behind in 19th overall, on 3m38.825s, but team-mate Nick Leventis spun and damaged the car slightly on his out-lap after the session was restarted.

Aston Martin remained untouchable in GT1. No other car came close to the 3m56.839s set by the #52 DBR9 shared by Peter Kox, Tomas Enge and Cristoffer Nygaard. The #72 Luc Alphand Aventures Chevrolet Corvette C6.R was 2.913s behind and the Ford GTs suffered all manner of problems: Rahel Frey spun and damaged the rear of the #61 car against the barriers and the de Doncker/Leinders/Palttala entry continued to suffer electrical problems.

Chevrolet topped the closely contested GT2 category. The #64 Corvette shared by Emmanuel Collard, Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin led by a good margin on 4m00.888s. The #63 Magnussen/O'Connell/Garcia sister car was beaten to second in class by the #77 Lieb/Lietz/Henzler Felbermayr Porsche. Just four seconds separated the top 10 in the GT2 class.

Pos Driver                        Cls Car                   Time    Laps
 1. Montagny/Sarrazin/Minassian   P1  Peugeot 908           3:20.024  57
 2. Lamy/Bourdais/Pagenaud        P1  Peugeot 908           3:21.266  44
 3. Panis/Lapierre/Duval          P1  ORECA Peugeot 908     3:21.514  54
 4. Wurz/Davidson/Gene            P1  Peugeot 908           3:23.605  45
 5. Kristensen/McNish/Capello     P1  Audi R15              3:23.935  43
 6. Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer     P1  Audi R15              3:24.099  45
 7. Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller   P1  Audi R15              3:24.779  48
 8. Turner/Hancock/Barazi         P1  Lola-Aston Martin     3:27.268  47
 9. Mucke/Fernandez/Primat        P1  Lola-Aston Martin     3:28.133  42
10. Belicchi/Boullion/Smith       P1  Rebellion Lola        3:29.851  38
11. Bouchut/Tucker/Rodrigues      P1  Kolles Audi R10       3:30.295  50
12. Jani/Andretti/Prost           P1  Rebellion Lola        3:30.629  36
13. Ayari/Andre/Meyrick           P1  ORECA 01-AIM          3:30.761  49
14. Jarvis/Albers/Bakkerud        P1  Kolles Audi R10       3:32.853  47
15. Mailleux/Ragues/Ickx          P1  Signature Lola-Aston  3:33.067  48
16. Mansell/Mansell/Mansell       P1  Beechdean Ginetta     3:34.857  45
17. Pirro/Cocker/Drayson          P1  Drayson Lola          3:37.416  29
18. Brabham/Franchitti/Werner     P2  Highcroft HPD ARX-01  3:38.691  34
19. Watts/Kane/Leventis           P2  Strakka HPD ARX-01    3:38.825  44
20. Erdos/Newton/Wallace          P2  RML Lola HPD          3:40.119  38
21. Hughes/Amaral/Pla             P2  ASM Ginetta-Zytek     3:42.351  48
22. Moreau/Charouz/Lahaye         P2  Oak Pescarolo         3:44.178  39
23. Pirri/Cioci/Perrazzini        P2  Racing Box Lola       3:49.938  32
24. Hein/Nicolet/Yvon             P2  Oak Pescarolo         3:50.853  45
25. Greaves/Ojjeh/Chalandon       P2  Bruichladdich Ginetta 3:51.358  44
26. Noda/Pourtales/Kennard        P2  KSM Lola-Judd         3:52.353  25
27. Rostan/Meichtry/Bruneau       P2  Race Perf Radical     3:53.773  23
28. Enge/Nygaard/Kox              GT1 Young Driver Aston    3:56.839  37
29. Salini/Salini/Gommendy        P2  WR/Salini WR Zytek    3:56.918  37
30. Policand/Gregoire/Hart        GT1 Alphand Corvette      3:59.752  39
31. Gavin/Beretta/Collard         GT2 Corvette              4:00.888  41
32. Leinders/Palttala/de Doncker  GT1 Marc VDS Ford GT      4:01.665  35
33. Schell/da Rocha/Zollinger     P2  Pegasus Norma-Judd    4:01.809  37
34. Lieb/Lietz/Henzler            GT2 Felbermayr Porsche    4:02.101  35
35. O'Connell/Magnussen/Garcia    GT2 Corvette              4:02.187  42
36. Grosjean/Mutsch/Hirschi       GT1 Matech Ford GT        4:02.546  14
37. Bruni/Melo/Kaffer             GT2 Risi Ferrari          4:03.007  42
38. Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen      GT2 Hankook Ferrari       4:03.046  38
39. Gardel/Berville/Canal         GT1 Larbre Saleen         4:03.142  21
40. Coronel/Dumbreck/Bleekemolen  GT2 Spyker                4:03.336  41
41. Alesi/Fisichella/Vilander     GT2 AF Corse Ferrari      4:03.643  39
42. Jousse/Gouselard/Massen       GT1 Alphand Corvette      4:03.879  15
43. Westbrook/Scheider/Holzer     GT2 BMS Scuderia Porsche  4:04.098  44
44. Salo/Russo/Companc            GT2 AF Corse Ferrari      4:04.476  36
45. Pilet/Narac/Long              GT2 IMSA Porsche          4:04.849  39
46. Allemann/Gachnang/Frey        GT1 Matech Ford GT        4:05.295  18
47. Farfus/J Muller/Alzen         GT2 BMW M3                4:05.675  34
48. Priaulx/D Muller/Werner       GT2 BMW M3                4:05.876  45
49. Bergmeister/Law/Neiman        GT2 Flying Lizard Porsche 4:06.564  34
50. Bell/Sugden/Miller            GT2 JMW Aston Martin      4:08.634  28
51. Felbermayr/Felbermayr/Konopka GT2 Felbermayr Porsche    4:10.593  36
52. Krohn/Jonsson/van de Poele    GT2 Risi Ferrari          4:10.615  35
53. Yogo/Iiri/Yamanishi           GT1 JLOC Lamborghini      4:14.448  29
54. v.Splunteren/Hommerson/MachielGT2 Prospeed Porsche      4:17.011  34
55. Goossens/Dalziel/Gentilozzi   GT2 Jaguar XKR            4:17.668   6
56. Lewis/Burgess/Willman         P1  Autocon Lola-AER      no time    2
Daytona Competition
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Puncture interrupts LMP2 battle
GT1 leader damaged in crash
Bourdais clinches pole for Peugeot
Q & A with Sebastien Bourdais
Bourdais: Le Mans surface worsening
Interview with Anthony Davidson
Peugeot still dominant in qualifying
Rockenfeller expects Audi to close gap
Turner rules out fighting diesel cars
BMW concedes it has to raise game
Panis says ORECA can fight for win
Brabham happy with Le Mans start
Peugeot confident of keeping pole
Bruni hails Ferrari qualifying
Bourdais fastest in first qualifying
Montagny: Peugeot will be 'mega'
Davidson plays down Peugeot's pace
Practice halted by Grosjean crash
Peugeot leads early practice running