Qualifying 1: Bentleys dominate
The two works Bentley's showed their speed early in qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours, outpacing the opposition by 2.4s in the first session. Mark Blundell was the fastest of the Bentley Boys and claimed provisional pole for himself and team-mates Johnny Herbert and David Brabham
The first session of qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours took place under muggy, overcast conditions. But the pitlane buzzed with excitement as preparation turned into action. Most of the drivers could be seen suited and booted, ready to take their turns as the teams searched for mutually acceptable set-up solutions.
The two-hour session ended with the number eight Bentley finishing 0.25s ahead of the number seven sister car of Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello and Guy Smith.
"It was not too bad," said Herbert, "but what we really need is to get the car a bit more driveable, so we can finish the weekend."
Kristensen said: "I would have liked to be quickest, but with one set of qualifiers between us, well, I will try again at ten o'clock."
Sibling rivalry has begun at Bentley already as Blundell, who put in the quickest time, explained: "The difference between seven and eight is one, and that's the only number we're interested in."
The Audi Sport Japan team was a late improver in the hands of Magnussen, Ara and Werner. The R8 pipped the Racing for Holland Dome Judd of Le Mans veteran Jan Lammers for third place on the timesheets. Lammers was quickest in the same session last year and improved lap by lap this evening.
Fifth place was occupied by the Champion Audi entry of Johansson, Pirro and Lehto, with the Audi Sport UK R8 driven by Frank Biela, Mika Salo and Britain's Perry McCarthy in sixth.
In the LMP675 class, the RN Motorsport DBA 4-Zytek 03S went quickest, and 14th overall - driven by Neilsen, Shimoda with the late addition of Casper Elgaard. Oliver Gavin was the pace-setter in the GTS class in his Chevrolet Corvette, whilst the Alex Job Racing Porsche claimed the fastest time in the GT category.
The excitement mounts as the teams retire to prepare for the second session, common wisdom here has it that there is a kind of happy hour just after the sun sets and before the track goes cold. The denser, cooler air boosts horsepower while the track holds on to its grip.
The second session starts at 2100 BST.
Brabham/Herbert/Blundell Bentley 3m35.321s
Kristensen/Capello/Smith Bentley 3m35.572s
Ara/Magnussen/Werner Audi 3m37.739s
Lammers/Bosch/Wallace Dome 3m38.923s
Pirro/Lehto/Johansson Audi 3m39.430s
Boullion/Lagorce/Sarrazin Courage 3m40.839s
Kondo/Katayama/Fukuda Dome 3m41.608s
Biela/Salo/McCarthy Audi 3m42.398s
Beretta/Jeannette/Papis Panoz 3m42.467s
Helary/Ayari/Minassian Courage 3m43.151s
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