Around the classes: part deux

With dusk just around the corner and everything to play for, the final qualifying session began in scorching conditions yesterday evening (Thursday). And while Audi remained untouched at the top of the time sheet, it was all change further down the grid

Around the classes: part deux

The heat wave engulfing northern France had still not relented, and with a soaring track temperature, the drivers began cautiously when the session started at 1900 (1800 BST).

With the track more scrubbed in than on Wednesday evening, the times were always going to be quicker: it was just a matter of when and, more importantly, whom.


The quietly competitive VW Reynard ROC cars dominated the 675 class by taking the top two places and pushing out a 3.5sec gap to the Bouvet/Douadi/Pompidou WR LMP car in third - no change there.

But the actual order of the Reynards changed, with the Deletraz/Kelleners/Terrien car surprisingly failing to improve on Wednesday's time and being leap-frogged by the second ROC run car, of Boullion/Gene/Policand, which took a massive six seconds off the session one time to go 2.9sec clear at the top of the class. The sole Lola also managed to improve by jumping ahead of the WR LMP car and demoting Terada/Balandras/Boulay into fifth.


The GTS class threw up fewer surprises, with he all-conquering Oreca Viper retaining its stranglehold on the top spot. The Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy car was never threatened, so much so that race set-up was the order of the day and Wednesday's time of 3m56.327s was good enough to keep them 2.3sec clear of the second placed Corvette of Pilgrim/Collins/Freon.

Pilgrim and co managed to usurp fellow Corvette drivers Fellows/Kneifel/Bell, who were demoted into third place after also not improving on their previous day's time.

Andy Pilgrim said: "We know we can run with the Vipers. We did it at Daytona and Ron Fellows got pole at Sebring, so we know we've got the speed."

The multitude of Vipers in this class made Corvette's second and third positions all the more impressive. The Freisinger and Konrad GT2 Porches completed the top 10 respectively.


Biggest surprise here? Not who was on pole, but who wasn't. Dirk Muller had looked a dead cert for his 10th pole in a row in the Dick Barbour Racing Porsche GT3R, but was pipped to it by the Bouchut/Chereau/Goueslard GT3R. The Barbour boys weren't unduly upset, having decided to devote the second day of qualifying to finding an optimum race set-up.

"The track is really oily and dirty," explained Lucas Luhr, "and no one wanted to risk the car so close to the race. I have an incredibly good feeling about the race itself."

Like a Porsche parade from the past, GT3Rs filled all 12 slots in the GT category.

For a full list of qualifying results click here.

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