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WEC NEWS 

Bernhard plays down crash effect

#1 Audi, Le Mans 2011Timo Bernhard says the accident that befell the #1 Audi in first qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours has not hindered the car's preparation programme ahead of this year's event.

Bernhard's team-mate Romain Dumas crashed the car when he made contact with the stationary Gulf Aston Martin Vantage at Mulsanne corner less than halfway into the session.

"In the four-hour free practice session we split up the set-up work between the cars," said the 30-year-old German. "It was important that our car did its work that we were signed on to. This worked out well and we used the four hours perfectly and there was no problem and then in the night practice it was more about doing the qualifying laps that are required and mandatory. And then to check the lights and get into the rhythm in the night.

"I only did one qualifying lap and then Romain had the incident with the car which he couldn't do anything about. But that meant our session stopped one hour 20 minutes early so for sure that was bad luck. But it's not a big story, we are not out of the rhythm at all."

Dumas could do nothing to avoid the GTE Am machine which had blocked the exit of the corner after spinning at the apex. And while the impact looked severe from the in-car shots, Audi has already repaired the R18 TDI in preparation for tonight's qualifying.

"It looked a lot worse than it was," said Dumas. "These cars are very strong and it was only some nosecone damage.

"There was nothing I could have done and I didn't see any yellow flags until I was in the corner, which is far too late to do anything about it. But I am fine, the car is fine and it's not a problem at all going into tonight."

Read an exclusive interview with Timo Bernhard here

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