Around the classes: first qualifying

The lure of the world's greatest race can be attributed to many factors: no less than 24 hours of non-stop action, sportscars hurtling through the night, sweat, tears etc. But another unique fascination is the sheer depth of the field competing

Around the classes: first qualifying

There are some 48 cars competing in the 68th "24 Heures du Mans" spanning four different categories. With the Audis dominating at the top, one could be forgiven for assuming the other classes might struggle to get a piece of the action. Said action, however, is hotting up as the struggle to achieve an early advantage began in the first qualifying session last night (Wednesday).


First up behind the frontrunners is the LMP 675 class, weighing in 225kg lighter than the 900kg of the main prototype contenders. The leading LMP 675 car is the Roc-Reynard, 11 seconds off the leaders. With a Reynard 2KQ customer chassis and a compact 2.0 litre VW power unit, much interest surrounds this entry, run by ex-French and German touring car outfit, ROC. The fastest time of 3m48.006sec was posted by the Deletraz, Kelleners, Terrien car and their closest rivals are the team's second car driven by Bouillion, Gene and Policand, only two seconds behind. The two WR Peugeot cars are next up with the new Lola B2K/40 chassis of the Canadian Multimatic team completing the 675 entry list.

Pos No Car Drivers Time
33 Reynard ROC VW Jean Denis Deletraz/Ralf Kelleners/David Terrien 3m48.006s
34 Reynard ROC VW Jean-Christophe Boullion/Jordi Gene/Jerome Policand 3m51.805s
35 WR LMP Jean Bernard Bouvet/Stephane Douadi/Xavier Pompidou 3m55.557s


The battle for victors spoils in the GTS class looks like it could be the closest fought of the weekend. An all-American fight took shape during first qualifying, with the early advantage going to Chrysler after pipping rivals Chevrolet to the top spot on the time sheets. Only two seconds separated the US heavyweights as the Viper of Beretta, Wendlinger and Dupuy took provisional pole at the end of the second session, despite the Corvettes holding the early advantage. An extremely slippery track made early running somewhat tricky. Of his fastest lap Karl Wendlinger said: "There was very little grip. This was my first clear, clean lap and I was on new tyres. The time was in the car straight away."

The order made interesting reading, with the Viper and the C5-R Corvette taking alternate positions until the fifth placed Donohue, Amorim, Beltoise Viper - which ran into handling problems. David Donohue said: "We have had a slight problem with the set-up which has delayed us, but I am confident that we can go faster tomorrow."

Pos No Car Drivers Time
51 Chrysler Viper Olivier Beretta/Karl Wendlinger/Dominique Dupuy 3m56.327s
63 Corvette C5-R Ron Fellows/Chris Kneiffel/Justin Bell 3m58.636s
52 Chrysler Viper Tommy Archer/Marc Duez/Patrick Huisman 3m59.199


The GT class consists entirely of Porsche's latest 911 variant, the GT3R, and while the times of those sitting behind provisional pole-sitters Dick Barbour Racing are close, the gap to the leaders is an impressive six seconds. Dick Barbour's return to Le Mans this year - with his one car entry for Muller, Luhr and Wollek - will mark almost 20 years to the day since he completed his third of three consecutive Le Mans closs victories. Of his car's performance he said: "I am extremely pleased. We have prepared very hard for this race - and will continue to do so. I am committed to deliver an outstanding performance."

Pos No Car Drivers Time
83 Porsche GT3R Dirk Muller/Lucas Luhr/Bob Wollek 4m10.008s
77 Porsche GT3R Christophe Bouchut/Jean Luc Chereau/Patrice Goueslard 4m16.389s
76 Porsche GT3R Max Cohen-Oliver/Antony Burgess/Michael Neugarten 4m20.306s

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