Same again for Audi in session two

Audi continued its domination of Le Mans qualifying in the second, dusk-to-night session held on Wednesday evening. The order swapped round, with Rinaldo Capello putting his R8 on provisional pole, but it was still business as usual when the silver machines took another one-two-three at a seeming canter

Same again for Audi in session two

Audi set its times early in the session on an extremely slippery track, the Joest-run squad switching to fine-tuning its race set-ups after less than 30 minutes of the two-hour session had been completed, but the message was obvious: there's more to come if necessary. But with its nearest rival, the lead Panoz of Brabham/Magnussen/Andretti, some 1.633s off the pole pace, it's unlikely that Audi will have to unleash its real qualifying firepower.

"I don't think I've ever had such a clear lap of Le Mans," said Capello. "There was one car at the last corner, so hopefully Ican go even quicker tomorrow."

If its rivals are looking for chinks in the Audi armour, then a morsel was thrown to them late in the session, when the Capello Audi suffered an engine failure. And if a precedent is required to further raise hopes, Toyota's domination of testing and qualifying in the 1999 24 Hours made them odds-on favourites too, but was followed by heartbreak and failure in the race itself.

Second fastest of the Audis was the Pirro/Biela/Kristensen machine, a miniscule 0.072s from Capello's time. Allan McNish, fastest in the third session, took his R8 to third, a further 0.058s adrift.

"I reckon my fastest lap was even better than my fastest lap in pre-qualifying," said McNish, "but the track's just so slippery, even now as it's cooled down. We started the session at 10 o'clock and we've basically been looking at our race set-up since 10.15. We made a lot of progress on the car and we can take the pole tomorrow."

Panoz played the numbers game, putting four of its cars in the top 10, with two Lolas and a single Reynard completing the makes in the top 10. Panoz team leader David Brabham stressed that, like Audi, it would be putting the bulk of its efforts into its race set-up.

"We had a better balance on the car than we had in testing," said Brabham, "however there are still a few areas that we need to work on. I bolted on a set of qualifying tyres, but it didn't really matter because we were mainly working on race set-up. I don't think we'll close the gap to Audi, but we're definitely the next best, which is where we were aiming for."

In the other classes, the ROC Reynard-Volkswagen of Deletraz/Kelleners/Terrien was fastest of the LMP675 runners; the ORECA Chrysler Viper of Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy took provisional GTS honours, and the Dick Barbour Racing Porsche GT3 R of Muller/Luhr/Wollek claimed top spot in the GT Class.

Two more two-hour qualifying sessions take place today (Thursday) at 1900 -2100 (1800 - 2000 BST) and 2200 - 2400 (2100 - 2300 BST) to determine the final grid for the 2000 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Commbined session time
Pos No Driver Car Time

7, Michele Alboreto, Christian Abt, Rinaldo Capello, Audi R8, 3:37.523
8, Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro, Audi R8, 3:37.595
9, Laurent Aiello, Allan McNish, Stephane Ortelli, Audi R8 3:37.653
11, David Brabham, Jan Magnussen, Mario Andretti, Panoz Spyder LMP, 3:39.156
12, Hiroki Katoh, Johnny O'Connell, Pierre-Henri Rapanel, Panoz Spyder LMP, 3:41.359
21, Mimmo Schiattarella, Didier de Radiguez, Emanuele Naspetti, Lola-Judd B2K, 3:42.188
20, Jan Lammers, Peter Kox, Tom Coronel, Lola-Ford B2K, 3:43.584
24, Stefan Johansson, Jim Matthews, Guy Smith, Reynard 2KQ, 3:44.012
23, Takaji Suzuki, Masahiko Kageyama, Masami Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP, 3:44.599
22, Takeshi Tsuchiya, Masahiko Kondoh, Akira Iida, Panoz Roadster S, 3:44.627

shares
comments
Cadillac remains on target

Previous article

Cadillac remains on target

Next article

Allan McNish's Le Mans Diary

Allan McNish's Le Mans Diary
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