Kristensen and co in confident mood

Last year's winners of the Le Mans 24 hour race, Tom Kristensen, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, are in confident mood after the Audi trio set the pace in Wednesday's first qualifying session

Kristensen and co in confident mood

The Audis have never looked like they were going to surrender their position at the top and although Kristensen attributed his fastest lap to steering clear of any traffic, that perhaps masks the true pace of the car. The Dane's benchmark time, was some 3.6s faster than last year's pole.

"Frank and Emanuele dialled the car in very quickly," said Kristensen. "I had a few runs on new tyres. The best one was just after 10pm. It was my first flying lap and it was almost clear. That doesn't happen often at Le Mans, so I am very pleased."

With the Joest team fitting both cars with their race engines for the second set of sessions on Thursday evening, the times are unlikely to improve, in spite of cooler conditions. But Rinaldo Capello, who shares the second works R8 with Christian Pescatori and Laurent Aiello believes they may yet be able to challenge for pole.

"The potential of the car is very high," said Capello. "I set my own fastest time on race tyres and I'm hoping that I'll be in a position to fight for pole position on Thursday."

Pescatori has joined the Joest team late, and replaces the late Michele Alboreto. The Italian has only driven the car once before, but is tapping into a wealth of experience, including two previous appearances at Le Mans, to settle into the team.

"I am beginning to know the car better and already feel very comfortable," said Pescatori. "I ran with a lot of fuel on Wednesday and race tyres because for me it is important to get into the right rhythm for the race."

Johnny Herbert is hoping for greater things from his Champion Racing privateer Audi, which he shares with Ralf Kelleners and Didier Theys. Kelleners set the fastest time to put the Champion car third, but Herbert is set to go faster in the daylight on Thursday.

"I was only driving during the night time this evening (Wednesday)," said Herbert. "But it was very good and I'm confident that in the daylight on Thursday, it will be even better."

The Gulf-backed car run by Johansson Racing was the disappointment of the session. Former Formula 1 man turned sportscar team owner Stefan Johansson set the fastest time in the morning session of prequalifying in May, but is hoping to improve from eighth place on Wednesday. Team mate Tom Coronel set the fastest time while Patrick Lemarie was thwarted by both seat problems and two slow punctures.

"The car is not as quick as it was at the pre-test last month," said Johansson, "so we'll check the data so we can improve on Thursday."

shares
comments
Thursday first qual: No change at the top

Previous article

Thursday first qual: No change at the top

Next article

Own a piece of Le Mans history

Own a piece of Le Mans history
Load comments
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Plus

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Plus

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness

WEC
Aug 22, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Plus

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow Plus

Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow

Many were quick to dismiss Glickenhaus when the boutique American sportscar firm's entry into the top class of the Le Mans 24 Hours was announced. It's all-new LMH racer, powered by an engine built by a rally specialist, goes in as the underdog against Toyota but the mathematical odds suggest that it has more than just a faint hope of success

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
The Asian underdog taking on the mighty GT factories at Le Mans Plus

The Asian underdog taking on the mighty GT factories at Le Mans

The rising HubAuto team steps up to GTE Pro at Le Mans this year for an ambitious bid to take on the three works giants – and has every reason to be optimistic of achieving its goal in becoming the first privateer on the podium since 2016

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car Plus

How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car

The JW Automotive Engineering team won twice at the Le Mans 24 Hours with ageing Fords and were considered heavy favourites to add more victories to its tally after partnering with Porsche. But despite being armed with the all-conquering 917, this formidable combination was never as successful in real life as on the big screen

Le Mans
Aug 14, 2021
Why Argentina’s current great isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio Plus

Why Argentina’s current great isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio

Having twice missed out on Formula 1 and reinvented himself as a touring car driver, Jose Maria Lopez has had a rocky ride to becoming a four-time world champion. One more would put him level with his nation's favourite son, but there's another prize he would value far more than the honour of matching Juan Manuel Fangio's tally

WEC
Aug 14, 2021