Le Mans prequalifying session 2

Audi emphatically underlined their position as pre-race favourites for the 67th Le Mans 24 Hours by setting the three fastest times in the pre event test day. The three silver cars had been fastest from the first moments of the two 120 minute sessions. Scotland's Alan McNish set the fastest time of the day, but for the first time since pre-qualifying began the times were not essential for qualification to the race. This will be done by the race organiser the Automobile Club de L'Ouest

Le Mans prequalifying session 2

McNish had been third of the three Audis after the first session as the team concentrated on three different set-up programmes for the three cars. But in the faster and most representative final two hours he jumped to the top of the times.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing for McNish, the Scot crashed the No 9 car close to the end of the day. "I was just coming into the Porsche Curves and the back lost grip," said the 1998 race winner. "I tried to rescue it, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't a fast accident, but I hit the tyres. It looked worse than it was. When I hit the tyres all the water was lifted out of them and went all over me. But that's the least of my worries."

McNish is reunited in the Audi R8 with his 1998 race winning co drivers Daniel Ortelli and Laurent Aiello.

The Team Rafanelli was the best of the rest all day as it chased the three Audis. The car, still very early in its development programme, was making its European debut and ran faultlessly throughout the day.

The shock of the day was the Philippe Gache Courage in fifth place. The Judd engined C60 was one of only two examples of the marque left in the race after the factory cars pulled out last week amid allegations surrounding engine supplier Nissan.

The leading Reynard 2KQ was the Johansson/Matthews example which had been significantly redesigned by the Bister manufacturer over recent weeks. The team had struggled at Sebring and pulled out of the Charlotte ALMS race in order to better prepare themselves for Le Mans.

After suffering a nightmare in the opening session, the Panoz team found the balance that had eluded it during the final two hours. The all-Japanese car emerged the fastest of the five front engined cars, with Brabham/Magnussen and Andretti just behind.

"We are beginning to get some balance, but it still needs some work," said Mario Andretti. "We ended up with a better car then this morning because we think we know where the problem is. We will be working hard between now and the race on the aero package untill we are all happy with the balance."

The two Cadillac teams split the work load as the DAMS team concentrated on tyre work, leaving the technical set-up to the factory cars. It was the DAMS who went quicker. The factory cars were testing new more powerful engines that are expected to be worth up to a second a lap when they are fully developed.

ORECA made an inauspicious LMP debut with it's two Reynard chassis. The team spent the day familiarizing themselves with the British-built cars and working on a base set-up for the race proper on June 17th-18th.

British marques Harrier and Ascari look unlikely to make the race after problems hit both teams. The Harrier stopped with engine problems this morning and failed to appear after lunch. The Ascari struggled in the morning and stopped out on the track with clutch failure during the second session.

LEADING TIMES: LE MANS PRE-QUALIFYING,
BOTH SESSIONS
PROTOTYPES
Pos Car No Team Car Drivers Session 1 Session 2
1 9 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R8 McNish/Aiello/Ortelli 3m40.02s 3m36.62s
2 8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R8 Biela/Pirro 3m37.35s 3m37.21s
3 7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R8 Alboreto/Abt/Capello 3m38.46s 3m37.69s
4 21 Team Rafanelli Lola B2K/10 Schiattarella/de Radigues 3m43.19s 3m38.80s
5 17 SMG Courage C60 Gache/Formato 3m45.73s 3m39.80s
6 24 Johansson/Matthews Reynard 2KQ Matthews/Johansson/Smith 3m44.41s 3m40.31s
7 23 TV Asashi Team Dragon Panoz LMP Kageyama/Kageyama 3m46.53s 3m40.54s
8 11 Panoz Motorsports Panoz LMP Brabham/Magnussen/Andretti 3m47.61s 3m41.56s
9 20 Konrad Motorsport LolaB2K/10 Coronel/Lammers 3m46.10s 3m41.89s
10 12 Panoz Motorsports Panoz LMP Katoh/O'Connell/Raphanel 3m47.18s 3m42.07s
11 3 DAMS Cadillac Bernard/Collard/Montagny 3m44.34s 3m43.43s
12 4 DAMS Cadillac Goosens/Tinseau/Kolby 3m44.84s 3m44.46s
13 10 Team Den Bla Avis Panoz LMP Nielsen/Thyrring 3m48.14s 3m44.63s
14 23 TV Asashi Team Dragon Panoz LMP Kondo/Tsuchiya/Iida 3m46.53s 3m45.92s
15 1 Bill Riley Cadillac Lagorce/Leitzinger/Wallace 3m48.39s 3m46.19s
16 15 Thomas Bsher Promotion BMW LM Bscher/Lees/Gounon 3m49.04s 3m46.22s
17 16 Pescarolo Sport Courage C52 Clerico/Grouillard/Bordais 3m48.68s 3m46.25s
18 5 ORECA Reynard 2KQ Dalmas/Beretta/Minassian no time 3m48.86s
19 2 Bill Riley Cadillac Angelelli/Taylor/van der Poele 3m46.74s 3m49.62s
20 5 ORECA Reynard 2KQ Dalmas/Beretta/Minassian no time 3m57.70s

GTS

The Dodge Viper team continued the dominance that has seen it take GTS class victory in the race for the last two years. The factory ORECA cars battled with the Chevrolet Corvettes that they had beaten by only 34 seconds after 24 hours at Daytona in February.

"We spent our time doing a testing and development programme designed to keep the Viper ahead of the Corvette," said Karl Wendlinger, who clocked the fastest time for the Dodge Viper. "We are pleased with the result but there is plenty of improvement to be had yet."

1 51 ORECA Viper LM GTS Wendlinger/Dupuy 3m58.45s
2 52 ORECA Viper LM GTS Duez/Huisman 3m58.76s
3 63 Corvette Racing Corvette C5-R Fellows/Kneifel/Bell 3m59.10s
4 53 ORECA Viper LM GTS Amorim/Beltoise 4m01.33s

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