Qualifying 1: Lammers sets early pace

Jan Lammers claimed provisional pole position for the Le Mans 24 hours in today's first qualifying session. Driving the Racing For Holland Dome, Lammers spent the entire two-hour session in the hot seat, setting a 3h31.355s shortly before the one-hour mark

Qualifying 1: Lammers sets early pace

A red flag, caused by Jonny Kane's stricken MG-Lola which had blown its engine after the Ulsterman buzzed it on the Mulsanne Straight, prevented the majority of the front runners from posting representative times. Kane's car requires a new engine, so the car will not be out in the next two-hour session.

Audi's Tom Kristensen was 0.414s shy of the Dome in second place, a massive three seconds ahead of the sister Joest car driven by Rinaldo Capello and the Audi North America car of Michael Krumm.

"I'm really, really surprised," said Lammers. "We had race tyres on at the beginning. The car felt really good and the time came really quickly. We thought we might as well put a set of qualifiers on so we got in a good lap nice and early. It was a good one, it was practically clear. We can go quicker, pole should be in the low 30s or high 29s."

Ralf Juttner, technical director for the works Audi Joest team, said: "We are really surprised by his [Lammers'] times. It could be an interesting battle for pole. The track conditions could be better though."

Olivier Beretta followed up the Team ORECA Dallara's impressive pre-qualifying performance with a solid fifth place, just 0.2s behind the final Audi. Last year's third place finishers Bentley also made a good start, posting a time good enough for sixth place in the hands of Eric van de Poele.

American manufacturers Cadillac and Riley & Scott will be eager to improve on 11th and 12th in the second session later tonight. In close attendance was the British privateer Ascari, which finshed 15th overall in the hands of Werner Lupberger.

Despite the problems with Kane's car, MG-Lola finished one-two in the LMP675 class in 10th and 14th places overall, comfortably clear of last year's class winning Reynard-Lehmann of Mark Smithson.

The GTS class was dominated by the Prodrive Ferrari of Ricard Rydell, whose time of 3m58.867s was more than four seconds faster than the leading Corvette of Andy Pilgrim.

Lucas Luhr set the pace in the GTO class throughout the session in his Porsche GT3, while the Morgan Aero 8 crew moved close to the qualification mark with a best of 4m31.758s.

The second session starts at 2100 BST.

Lammers/Hillebrand/Coronel Racing for Holland, Dome-Judd S101 3m31.355s
Kristensen/Biela/Pirro Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R8 3m31.769s
Capello/Herbert/Pescatori Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi R8 3m34.814s
Krumm/Peter/Werner Audi Sport North America, Audi R8 3m35.871s
Beretta/Lamy/Comas Team ORECA, Dallara-Judd LMP 3m36.121s
Wallace/Leitzinger/van de Poele Team Bentley, Bentley EXP Speed 8 3m38.036s*
Ara/Dalmas/Katoh Team Goh, Audi R8 3m38.129s
Cottaz/Derichebourg/Bjork Courage Competition, Courage-Judd C60JX 3m38.224s
Sarrazin/Montagny/Minassian Team ORECA, Dallara-Judd LMP 3m41.329s
Blundell/Bailey/McGarrity MG Sport, MG-Lola EX257 3m41.600s**
*=LM GTP
**=LMP675


Menu/Rydell/Enge Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello 3m58.867s


Luhr/Bernhard/Buckler The Racers' Group Porsche 911 GT3-RS 4m12.744s

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