Pescarolo Still on Provisional Pole
Soheil Ayari set the ball rolling by being fastest in the first part of tonight's final qualifying. He propelled the number 17 Pescarolo around the Sarthe circuit in 3m35.555s to claim the provisional pole position for the 73rd running of the 24-hour race that will get underway at 16:00 on Saturday.

This marked an improvement of more than 26 seconds over the quickest time set by Ayari on Wednesday when the wet track was at its least damp as midnight brought the second part of the first qualifying session to a close. This lap compared with Emmanuel Collard's best of 3m32.468s in pre-event testing a fortnight ago.

Collard ought to have been second fastest, but his time of 3m36.273s was taken away from him for a rules infringement in the pits. This came when Jean-Christophe Boullion made the mistake of firing up the engine before Collard had fully left the car, being spotted with his knee still in contact with the bodywork. This dropped number 16 Pescarolo to 13th in the timesheets.

As a taste of things to come when the second half of the session starts at 22:00, a flurry of fastest laps were set in the final 10 minutes as track and temperatures dropped from 29 to 25 degrees, to a level of cool that was welcome after a warm day.

Franck Montagny gave the Oreca team reason to smile by being best of the Audi runners with his final lap right at the end of the session, lapping in 3m38.281s in the R8 he's sharing with Jean-Marc Gounon and Stephane Ortelli, some 2.726s away from Ayari's quickest time. This late sprint moved him just ahead of Allan McNish who lapped in 3m38.494s in the faster of the Champion Racing Audis in which he's partnered by Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, with the sister car of JJ Lehto/Tom Kristensen/Marco Werner five places further back.

Jonathan Cochet was a late improvement, moving the works Courage he's sharing with Bruce Jouanny and Shinji Nakano up to fourth overall with a best of 3m38.825s. Just a fraction slower was the Creation Autosportif DBA4 of Nicolas Minassian, Jamie Campbell-Walter and Andy Wallace, this managing a lap of 3m39.098s. The works Dome was sixth fastest, with Ryo Michigami the pick of its crop, lapping in 3m39.541s. The Joao Barbosa/Vanina Ickx/Martin Shoert Rollcenter Dallara-Judd lapped seventh quickest.

Ian James got his head down to steer the Team Miracle Motorsports Courage to the head of LMP2 with a best of 3m48.819s, toppling the RML Lola in which Warren Hughes had long sat atop the class.

The Aston Martins monopolised GT1, lapping 16th and 17th fastest, with the Tomas Enge/Peter Kox/Pedro Lamy DBR9 lapping in 3m,50.311s to outpace the David Brabham/Stephane Sarrazin/Darren Turner sister car right at the end, with Enge setting the lap at the close and with the best of the rest, the two works Corvettes, five seconds adrift.

GT2 currently belongs to the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Mike Rockenfeller, Marc Lieb and Leo Hindery who were 29th fastest of the 49 runners in 4m05.326s, heading the Flying Lizard entry by just over a second.

Pos # Team Drivers Car Class Qual 1 Qual 2 Gap
.1 17 Pescarolo Sport Loeb S
Helary E
Ayari S
Pescarolo Judd LM1 4:01.197 3:35.555
.2 4 Audi Playstation Oreca Montagny F
Gounon JM
Ortelli S
Audi R8 LM1 4:05.770 3:38.281 + 2.726
.3 2 Champion Racing Biela F
Pirro E
Mc Nish A
Audi R8 LM1 4:02.027 3:38.494 + 2.939
.4 13 Courage Competition Cochet J
Nakano S
Jouanny B
Courage Judd LM1 4:26.247 3:38.825 + 3.270
.5 7 Creation Autosportif Minassian N
Wallace A
DBA Judd LM1 4:02.992 3:39.098 + 3.543
.6 5 Jim Gainer International Michigami R
Ara S
Kaneishi K
Dome Mugen LM1 4:08.745 3:39.541 + 3.986
.7 18 Rollcentre Racing Short M
Barbosa J
Ickx V
Dallara Judd LM1 4:28.852 3:40.906 + 5.351
.8 3 Champion Racing Lehto JJ
Werner M
Kristensen T
Audi R8 LM1 4:07.643 3:41.104 + 5.549
.9 12 Courage Competition Schwager D
Frei A
Vann C
Courage Judd LM1 4:45.084 3:42.859 + 7.304
.10 8 Rollcentre Racing Verdoen Roe RG
Krumm M
Primat H
Dallara Nissan LM1 4:20.862 3:43.377 + 7.822
.11 9 Team Jota - Zytek Hignett S
Stack J
Kurosawa H
Zytek 04S LM1 4:09.578 3:43.795 + 8.240
.12 10 Racing For Holland Lammers J
Julian E
Bosch J
Dome Judd LM1 4:15.816 3:43.949 + 8.394
.13 34 Miracle Motorsports Macaluso J
James I
Lally A
Courage AER LM2 4:12.754 3:48.819 + 13.264
.14 25 RML Erdos T
Newton M
Hughes W
Lola MG LM2 4:28.869 3:49.069 + 13.514
.15 58 Aston Martin Racing Enge T
Kox P
Lamy P
Aston Martin D GT1 4:31.022 3:50.311 + 14.756
.16 59 Aston Martin Racing Brabham D
Sarrazin S
Turner D
Aston Martin D GT1 4:22.600 3:51.251 + 15.696
.17 37 Paul Belmondo Racing Belmondo P
Andre D
Sutherland R
Courage C65 Fo LM2 4:14.406 3:51.570 + 16.015
.18 33 Intersport Racing Zlobin S
Briere B
Barazi J
Courage AER LM2 4:29.217 3:51.844 + 16.289
.19 30 Kruse Motorsport Bennett P
Mitchell I
Mullen T
Courage Judd LM2 4:31.127 3:52.940 + 17.385
.20 32 Intersport Racing Fisken G
Halliday E
Hancock S
Lola AER LM2 4:11.719 3:54.772 + 19.217
.21 31 Del Bello Noel Amorin N
Iannetta R
Pillon CH
Courage - CG LM2 4:21.562 3:55.271 + 19.716
.22 64 Corvette Racing Gavin O
Beretta O
Magnussen J
Corvette C6-R GT1 4:36.209 3:55.457 + 19.902
.23 63 Corvette Racing Fellows R
O'connel J
Papis M
Corvette C6-R GT1 4:36.309 3:56.130 + 20.575
.24 36 Paul Belmondo Racing Gosselin CY
Ojjeh K
Sharpe A
Courage C65 Fo LM2 4:27.268 3:58.238 + 22.683
.25 24 Rachel Welter Terada Y
Roussel P
Binnie W
Wr Peugeot LM2 4:42.403 3:59.103 + 23.548
.26 51 BMS Scuderia Italia Pescatori C
Gollin F
Ramos M
Ferrari 550Mar GT1 4:30.973 3:59.230 + 23.675
.27 52 BMS Scuderia Italia Bartyan M
Malucelli M
Seiler T
Ferrari 550Mar GT1 4:24.686 4:01.683 + 26.128
.28 71 Alex Job Racing Hindery L
Rockenfeller M
Lieb M
Porsche 911 GT3 Rsr GT2 4:32.235 4:05.326 + 29.771
.29 20 Bruneau Pierre Rostan M
Haezebrouck P
Bruneau P
Pilbeam JPX LM2 4:39.059 4:05.364 + 29.809
.30 23 Gerard Welter Bouvet JB
Boulay S
Julien R
WR LM2 4:51.163 4:05.855 + 30.300
.31 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports Van Overbeek J
Pechnik L
Neiman S
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:44.434 4:06.658 + 31.103
.32 77 Panoz Motor Sports Auberlen B
Liddell R
Maxwell SC
Panoz Elan GT2 4:32.904 4:08.422 + 32.867
.33 90 White Lightning Racing Bergmeister J
Long P
Bernhard T
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:33.107 4:11.105 + 35.550
.34 78 Panoz Motor Sports Sellers B
Franchitti M
Bourdais P
Panoz Elan GT2 5:07.955 4:12.088 + 36.533
.35 93 Scuderia Ecosse Kinch N
Kirkaldy A
Reid A
Ferrari 360 Mo GT2 4:28.724 4:13.237 + 37.682
.36 72 Luc Alphand Aventures Policand J
Campbell CH
Alphand L
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:41.065 4:13.517 + 37.962
.37 16 Pescarolo Sport Collard E
Boullion JC
Comas E
Pescarolo Judd LM1 4:13.526 5:58.699 + 37.971
.38 89 Sebah Automotive Nielsen L E
Thyrring T
Ehret P
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:43.150 4:16.930 + 41.375
.39 91 T2M Motorsport Pompidou X
Blanchemain JL
Yamagishi Y
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:47.922 4:17.184 + 41.629
.40 61 Cirtek Motorsport Fomenko N
Vasiliev A
Bouchut CH
Ferrari 550Mar GT1 4:23.885 4:18.801 + 43.246
.41 50 Larbre Competition Goueslard P
Dupard O
Vosse V
Ferrari 550Mar GT1 4:20.688 + 45.133
.42 92 Cirtek Motorsport Macari J
Ericsson S
Wilson R
Ferrari 360 Mo GT2 4:53.019 4:22.056 + 46.501
.43 95 RaceSport Peninsula TVR Hartshorne J
Stanton R
Johnson P
TVR Tuscan T40 GT2 4:48.379 4:24.558 + 49.003
.44 76 Raymon Narrac Dumas R
Dumez S
Narac R
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:25.598 4:34.483 + 50.043
.45 83 Seikel Motorsport Collin P
Felbermayr H
Shep D
Porsche 911 GT GT2 4:49.404 4:26.435 + 50.880
.46 35 G-Force Racing Hillebrand V
Hahn F
Pickering G
Courage C65 Ju LM2 4:31.453 + 55.898
.47 85 Spyker Squadron Coronel T
Crevels D
Van Merksteijn
Spyker C8 Spyd GT2 4:36.539 4:32.043 + 56.488
.48 69 JMB Racing De Fournoux Jr
Daoudi S
Matthews J
Ferrari 575 GT GT1 4:33.600 59:51.191 + 58.045
.49 39 Chamberlain Synergy Motor Evans R
Berridge R
Owen P
Lola AER LM2 4:51.514 + 1:15.959
Pescarolo: 'Pole isn't Important'
Previous article

Pescarolo: 'Pole isn't Important'

Next article

Coronel Crash Hurts Spyker

Coronel Crash Hurts Spyker
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Plus

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Autosport hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022
The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory Plus

The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory

Peugeot went radical with the initial plan for its Le Mans Hypercar project, and then stuck to its guns. Here’s how things are shaping up a few weeks before the debut of the 9X8 in next month's Monza World Endurance Championship round

Jun 1, 2022
How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa Plus

How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa

After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race

May 9, 2022
The Chinese sportscar protege targeting a path to the top with Porsche Plus

The Chinese sportscar protege targeting a path to the top with Porsche

Yifei Ye came within one lap of winning the LMP2 class on his Le Mans 24 Hours debut last year, and his eye-catching 2021 has gained Porsche’s interest. With the German manufacturer preparing for a return to the top tier, the Chinese youngster is on the path to join it

Apr 14, 2022
How WEC got off to a stormy start in 2022 as rulemakers dampen Toyota's dominance Plus

How WEC got off to a stormy start in 2022 as rulemakers dampen Toyota's dominance

Toyota’s stranglehold on the World Endurance Championship ended at the 2022 opener at Sebring, but all accusing eyes were on the Balance of Performance system as the key to the shake-up. Here's how it unfolded, to see Alpine celebrating under a stormy sky having blown away the defending champions

Mar 21, 2022
Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year Plus

Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year

Team Penske is gearing up for its role in running Porsche’s LMDh programme from 2023 by entering this year's World Endurance Championship with an LMP2 car. Although the team is considering 2022 as a season to learn, it is no less serious about winning than ever - which should make the already fiercely competitive class even more so

Mar 17, 2022