Collard Tops Qualifying Session 1

The 73rd Le Mans 24 Hours meeting got underway at 19:00 local time on Wednesday evening with the first of two qualifying sessions, with Emmanuel Collard topping the timesheets in the faster of the Pescarolo entries, with a best time of 4m13.526s

Collard Tops Qualifying Session 1

Tom Kristensen was second fastest, lapping just 0.095s slower on the final lap in the first of the Champion Racing Audis.

The works Dome topped the timesheets for much of the session, with Ryo Michigami setting the time. However, he later blotted his copybook by spinning into a gravel trap, but he was able to escape its clutches and return to the pits, but the Japanese hybrid chassis slipped back to third place on 4m13.748s, emphasising just how close the top three had been on a damp but drying track.

Andy Wallace's Creation Autosportif DBA4 was fourth fastest, in 4m15.396s, with Michael Krumm's Rollcentre Racing Dallara (4m20.862s), Soheil Ayari in the second Pescarolo (4m1.306s) and Allan McNish in the second Champion Racing Audi (4m21.919s) next in the order.

One of the drives of the session came from Christophe Bouchut who vaulted up the order on the final lap to lead the GT1 class in the Cirtek Motorsport Ferrari 550 Maranello, lapping in 4m23.885s to head the previously predominant Aston Martins by fully a dozen seconds, emphasising how quickly the track was drying.

A fraction slower, in ninth overall, was the quickest of the LMP2 entries, with Didier Andre lapping in 4m25.823s in one of the Paul Belmondo Racing Courages.

Marc Lieb distinguished himself in the junior class, GT2, riding as high as the tail of the top-10 for a while before being bumped back to 15th in the Alex Job Racing Porsche, with 4m37.574s.

The session had been a tough one, though, as an initially damp track soon turned wet as rain arrived right at the start of the two-hour session and soon led to an accident that brought out the red flag. The car that stumbled was Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport's LMP2 Lola, with Peter Owen at the wheel, hitting the barriers on the exit of the second Mulsanne chicane. He was uninjured, which was more than could be said of the car, with damage down one side and to the suspension.

"Just as I was changing up from fourth gear to fifth," he explained, "the rear-end locked up and it went around on me." This won't have helped the team in its quest to qualify all three of its drivers, something that requires each of them to complete three laps in daylight and three after dark in the second session, either today or tomorrow.

Conditions had certainly been tricky on track, as White Lightning GT2 Porsche racer Jorg Bergmeister elaborated: "The visibility was pretty bad out there, with a lot of spray." Fortunately for all, the rain eased off while the accident was cleared up and the sun broke through for the final 45 minutes.

With a break of an hour before the second two-hour qualifying session, time aplenty for a dry line to appear around the 13.65km circuit, expect the times to tumble.

Pos # Team Drivers Car Class Time Gap
.1 16 Pescarolo Sport Collard E
Boullion JC
Comas E
Pescarolo Judd LM1 4:13.526
.2 3 Champion Racing Lehto JJ
Werner M
Kristensen T
Audi R8 LM1 4:13.621 + 0.095
.3 5 Jim Gainer International Michigami R
Ara S
Kaneishi K
Dome Mugen LM1 4:13.748 + 0.222
.4 7 Creation Autosportif Minassian N
Wallace A
DBA Judd LM1 4:15.396 + 1.870
.5 8 Rollcentre Racing Verdoen Roe RG
Krumm M
Primat H
Dallara Nissan LM1 4:20.862 + 7.336
.6 17 Pescarolo Sport Loeb S
Helary E
Ayari S
Pescarolo Judd LM1 4:21.306 + 7.780
.7 2 Champion Racing Biela F
Pirro E
Mc Nish A
Audi R8 LM1 4:21.919 + 8.393
.8 61 Cirtek Motorsport Fomenko N
Vasiliev A
Bouchut CH
Ferrari 550Mar GT1 4:23.885 + 10.359
.9 37 Paul Belmondo Racing Belmondo P
Andre D
Sutherland R
Courage C65 Fo LM2 4:24.832 + 11.306
.10 9 Team Jota - Zytek Hignett S
Stack J
Kurosawa H
Zytek 04S LM1 4:25.823 + 12.297
.11 32 Intersport Racing Fisken G
Halliday E
Hancok S
Lola AER LM2 4:28.007 + 14.481
.12 4 Audi Playstation Oreca Montagny F
Gounon JM
Ortelli S
Audi R8 LM1 4:30.071 + 16.545
.13 10 Racing For Holland Lammers J
Julian E
Bosch J
Dome Judd LM1 4:34.951 + 21.425
.14 59 Aston Martin Racing Brabham D
Sarrazin S
Turner D
Aston Martin D GT1 4:35.992 + 22.466
.15 71 Alex Job Racing Hindery L
Rockenfeller M
Lieb M
Porsche 911 GT3 Rsr GT2 4:37.574 + 24.048
.16 58 Aston Martin Racing Enge T
Kox P
Lamy P
Aston Martin D GT1 4:38.075 + 24.549
.17 13 Courage Competition Cochet J
Nakano S
Jouanny B
Courage Judd LM1 4:39.498 + 25.972
.18 51 BMS Scuderia Italia Pescatori C
Gollin F
Ramos M
Ferrari 550Mar GT1 4:39.997 + 26.471
.19 90 White Lightning Racing Bergmeister J
Long P
Bernhard T
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:40.711 + 27.185
.20 33 Intersport Racing Zlobin S
Briere B
Barazi J
Courage AER LM2 4:42.282 + 28.756
.21 52 BMS Scuderia Italia Bartyan M
Malucelli M
Seiler T
Ferrari 550Mar GT1 4:43.609 + 30.083
.22 30 Kruse Motorsport Bennett P
Mitchell I
Mullen T
Courage Judd LM2 4:44.485 + 30.959
.23 12 Courage Competition Schwager D
Frei A
Vann C
Courage Judd LM1 4:45.084 + 31.558
.24 76 Raymon Narrac Dumas R
Dumez S
Narac R
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:46.064 + 32.538
.25 69 JMB Racing De Fournoux Jr
Daoudi S
Matthews J
Ferrari 575 GT GT1 4:47.684 + 34.158
.26 93 Scuderia Ecosse Kinch N
Kirkaldy A
Reid A
Ferrari 360 Mo GT2 4:47.741 + 34.215
.27 85 Spyker Squadron Coronel T
Crevels D
Van Merksteijn
Spyker C8 Spyd GT2 4:48.224 + 34.698
.28 25 RML Erdos T
Newton M
Hughes W
Lola MG LM2 4:48.529 + 35.003
.29 72 Luc Alphand Aventures Policand J
Campbell CH
Alphand L
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:49.351 + 35.825
.30 39 Chamberlain Synergy Motor Evans R
Berridge R
Owen P
Lola AER LM2 4:51.514 + 37.988
.31 91 T2M Motorsport Pompidou X
Blanchemain JL
Yamagishi Y
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:54.618 + 41.092
.32 20 Bruneau Pierre Rostan M
Haezebrouck P
Bruneau P
Pilbeam JPX LM2 4:55.786 + 42.260
.33 36 Paul Belmondo Racing Gosselin CY
Ojjeh K
Sharpe A
Courage C65 Fo LM2 4:56.714 + 43.188
.34 89 Sebah Automotive Nielsen L E
Thyrring T
Ehret P
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:57.257 + 43.731
.35 35 G-Force Racing Hillebrand V
Hahn F
Pickering G
Courage C65 Ju LM2 4:59.086 + 45.560
.36 34 Miracle Motorsports Macaluso J
James I
Lally A
Courage AER LM2 5:07.592 + 54.066
.37 83 Seikel Motorsport Collin P
Felbermayr H
Shep D
Porsche 911 GT GT2 5:07.949 + 54.423
.38 78 Panoz Motor Sports Sellers B
Franchitti M
Bourdais P
Panoz Elan GT2 5:07.955 + 54.429
.39 92 Cirtek Motorsport Macari J
Ericsson S
Wilson R
Ferrari 360 Mo GT2 5:12.693 + 59.167
.40 31 Del Bello Noel Amorin N
Iannetta R
Pillon CH
Courage - CG LM2 5:19.534 + 1:06.008
.41 95 RaceSport Peninsula TVR Hartshorne J
Stanton R
Johnson P
TVR Tuscan T40 GT2 5:20.267 + 1:06.741
.42 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports Van Overbeek J
Pechnik L
Neiman S
Porsche 911 GT GT2 5:21.883 + 1:08.357
.43 23 Gerard Welter Bouvet JB
Boulay S
Julien R
WR LM2 5:30.049 + 1:16.523
.44 50 Larbre Competition Goueslard P
Dupard O
Vosse V
Ferrari 550Mar GT1
.45 24 Rachel Welter Terada Y
Roussel P
Binnie W
Wr Peugeot LM2
.46 63 Corvette Racing Fellows R
O'connel J
Papis M
Corvette C6-R GT1
.47 64 Corvette Racing Gavin O
Beretta O
Magnussen J
Corvette C6-R GT1
.48 77 Panoz Motor Sports Auberlen B
Liddell R
Maxwell SC
Panoz Elan GT2
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