Beretta wants it up close and personal

Olivier Beretta is far from being a Le Mans newcomer, and as such, great things will be expected of him come 1600 (1500 BST) on Sunday afternoon. Not that experience at Le Mans guarantees a good result of course, but the tried and tested formula of Beretta in a Chrysler Viper means the American marque certainly goes into the race as favourite

Beretta wants it up close and personal

Olivier, however, is not convinced that he and co-drivers Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy will have it all their own way. The Corvettes have got closer and closer and as far as Beretta is concerned, the closer the better.

"Corvette have done a great job," explains the Frenchman. "They have a good team and a good car. In qualifying we had an advantage, but in the race I think the gap will be closed - and the closer the better. With someone behind, it makes you push a bit harder."

With a V10, 10-litre power unit shoe-horned underneath that long, curving bonnet, the Viper certainly has enough bite to throw up some surprises. Enough however, to snap at the heels of the top 10?

"I do like to think about the overall finishing position," Beretta says cautiously, "but I have to keep my feet on the ground. Our aim is to get first place in the GTS class and if we can get higher than that, then great."

Reliability has not yet been the thorn in Chrysler's side that it might potentially have been, with three GTS class wins in the ALMS already this year, including the gruelling Daytona 24hrs, where Beretta and co notched up an overall win. What, then, are the potential problems that could spoil the Viper's run of success at Le Mans?

"The temperature should not be a problem in terms of mechanical failures as it was quite hot at Daytona and Sebring," shrugs the Monegasque. "The worst problem this year has been the track. There was lots of gravel to start with and then oil - on turn one, then on the approach to Indianapolis and then last night at Arnage. Drivers should know to keep off the line if they feel any kind of problem with their car."

The other factor that could push the Frenchman up the order is tactics, about which Beretta was unsurprisingly cagey. He would not be drawn on driver order or stint lengths, let alone strategy.

"It is too early to say," Olivier says defensively. "We will change it from last year because we have to move forward. Sure, we have plans before the race, but then you need to use your experience to adapt your strategy during the race."

Le Mans experience is certainly not a shortfall and the Oreca team will surely be hoping to better last year's 10th place overall. Whether the Corvettes get close to the Vipers or not, Beretta doesn't mind either way - he'll just push a bit harder.

For full qualifying results, click 'here'.

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