Duval fastest in rain-hit Le Mans warm up

Loic Duval put the #3 Audi R18 Ultra on top of a chaotic, rain-hit warm up ahead of the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours

Duval fastest in rain-hit Le Mans warm up

The Frenchman's late effort ensured Audi locked out the top four positions ahead of the two Toyota TS 030 hybrids, although the Japanese marque opted to only set two flying laps at the session's close.

The strategy seemed well judged as the morning rain produced immediate chaos. Within seven minutes of the session starting the red flag flew, as Jan Charouz in the #25 ADR Delta ORECA-Nissan found the gravel just after the Dunlop bridge. Marc Rostan's #29 Gulf Racing Lola was one of several cars to also hit trouble, causing the session to be halted before anyone had managed a single flying lap.

Myriad incidents and offs continued right through to the chequered flag, with Mulsanne in particular proving troublesome.

Amid the chaos Audi climbed to the top of the timesheets, with Rinaldo Capello fastest for much of the session in the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro he shares with Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen.

Duval's late flyer demoted him to second, ahead of the sister #1 e-tron quattro, while a similarly late effort from Oliver Jarvis ensured an Audi 1-2-3-4 and demoted Alex Wurz in the lead #7 Toyota into fifth.

Across in LMP2 the #42 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan shared by Martin and Alex Brundle and Lucas Ordonez ended fastest, with only the #35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan able to lap within one second.

The GTE classes were even more strung out, although the conditions once again helped determine the gaps - several cars making late, and massive, improvements as the rain finally abated and conditions improved.

There was good news for the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Toni Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni, which will start from the back of the field after missing most of qualifying due to damage, as it finished almost 10s clear at the head of the GTE Pro field.

Joel Camathias meanwhile secured top spot in GTE Am in the #55 JWA-Avila Porsche 911, setting his fastest time on his final tour.

Prior to his and Bruni's improvements, Aston Martin had flourished in the adverse conditions. The #97 Vantage eventually ended third fastest in the Pro class, while its sister #99 Am entry was second fastest.

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Series WEC
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Author Sam Tremayne
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