Capello's Audi tops test day
Italian Rinaldo Capello put in an outstanding performance for the factory Joest Audi Sport team to top the times by nearly two seconds in the official test day at Le Mans on Sunday
Driving the No2 car for the all-conquering German marque, which is going for a hat-trick of Le Mans wins in the June race, the former touring car ace set a 3m30.296s lap with 10 minutes remaining to stretch the Audi R8's advantage at the head of the time sheets.
Capello's team-mate Johnny Herbert's had previously taken the car to the top of the time sheets to displace the rapid ORECA Dallara-Judd of Stephane Sarrazin with just 40 minutes remaining, before Capello stepped aboard and slashed the time again.
Capello's mark was fully 2.5s quicker than the R8s managed at the official test day last year, despite the track being slightly longer due to the modifications between the Dunlop Bridge and the Esses. Tom Kristensen in the No1 Audi then put in a series of laps in the dying minutes to challenge Capello's mark, but traffic limited him to a 3m32.578s, good enough for third.
The reason that Audi felt obliged to stretch their legs was the stunning pace of Sarrazin's Dallara, which mid-way through the afternoon four-hour session knocked Audi off the top of the time sheets for the first time in three years. Although the Toyota Formula 1 test driver's mark was later eclipsed by Capello, it provided warning that the French team's cars will be a real threat come the race in June.
Audi newboy Michael Krumm went fourth quickest, ahead of Mark Blundell in the LMP675 class MG, which flew all afternoon before a last-minute effort elevated it into the top five, while team-mate Jonny Kane also starred to go eighth quickest. The Bentley team also had a strong day, running a lot of laps and with the team ending up in sixth place.
Czech Formula 3000 star Tomas Enge shocked the GTS class runners by setting a blistering pace in the Prodrive Ferrari 550, over three seconds clear of the nearest rival, Christophe Bouchut's Chrysler Viper GTS-R. The two factory Chevrolet Corvettes were next up, while the Racers' Group Porsche 911 GT3-RS topped the times in the GT category.
Rinaldo Capello, Joest Audi R8, 3m30.296s
Stephane Sarrazin, Oreca Dallara-Judd LMP, 3m32.168s
Tom Kristensen, Joest Audi R8, 3m32.578s
Michael Krumm, Joest Audi R8, 3m33.180s
Mark Blundell, MG-Lola EX257, 3m33.414s
Eric van de Poele, Bentley EXP Speed 8, 3m34.556s
Jan Lammers, Racing for Holland Dome-Judd S101, 3m34.690s
Jonny Kane, MG-Lola EX257, 3m35.348s
Olivier Beretta, Oreca Dallara-Judd LMP, 3m35.826s
Didier Cottaz, Courage Competition Courage-Judd C60, 3m35.899s
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