Pre-qualifying 'as significant as ever'

Audi Le Mans driver Allan McNish believes that this year's prequalifying test will prove every bit as significant and as exciting as in previos years, despite the event no longer being a qualifying session to make it into the race

Pre-qualifying 'as significant as ever'

This year, entries are by invitation from the Auto Club O'uest for the first time. Until the 1999 race, entries were decided by a dash for places in May pre-qualifying - now that session is just a test.

Nevertheless, McNish, winner of the French classic in 1998, asserts that the session will retain its traditional late surge as teams try to score the psychological high of being fastest overall.

"You can always guarantee people will want to be fast," said McNish.

"It's the only real time to try and attain a reasonable degree of competitiveness. You've got such a limited time for testing that you've just got to get on with it. There'll always be a bit of a dash for times at the end.

"It's also psychologically very important, as you have a couple of months between then and qualifying, when there's no chance to make any substantial changes, so you've got to be on the pace."

McNish will drive for Audi this year, and the main prototype class opposition is likely to come from Panoz and Cadillac, whilst the Scot claims a hidden threat could be the GM Racing Corvette (see separate story).

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