Sarrazin takes sensational pole

Stephane Sarrazin produced a stunning late effort to clinch pole position at the Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot for the third successive year

Sarrazin takes sensational pole

Sarrazin's team-mate in the #8 908, Franck Montagny, had set the pace throughout Thursday's first qualifying session, only to have his time beaten by Audi's Allan McNish on the very last lap.

That left Peugeot needing to better Audi's time in the dark during final qualifying and Sarrazin left his charge late.

He set two purple sector times on two consecutive laps, only to have them spoiled by traffic - the first by Andre Lotterer's Kolles-run Audi R10 and the second by Tom Kristensen in the #1 R15.

Sarrazin was forced to pit for a new set of tyres and it was close to midnight when he unleashed the fastest lap of the week so far, a 3m22.888s - seven tenths quicker than McNish's effort at the end of the first session.

The Frenchman made up all the time over his previous best effort in the final sector and lapped just four seconds slower than his pole time from last year, despite the regulation changes reducing the power of the Peugeot 908 by an estimated 10 per cent.

Nicolas Minassian was just a couple of hundred yards behind Sarrazin on the road and set the best time of the evening for the #7 car to take third place.

The Pescarolo-run customer 908 will start the race from fourth place thanks to Jean-Christophe Boullion's effort in the earlier session.

Marc Gene and Marco Werner both made improvements on their final runs to lift the #9 Peugeot and the #2 Audi to fifth and sixth on the grid respectively.

The #3 Audi was one of the only front runners not to improve its time in the second session and will start seventh.

Stefan Mucke pulled out a sensational lap in the #007 Lola Aston Martin to pinch eighth place from the sister #008 car. Mucke lapped within a tenth of a second of the #3 Audi in seventh, but Jan Charouz took over the car from Mucke and crashed into the barriers at the second chicane. The team is still waiting to get the car back and investigate the severity of the damage.

The #008 Aston will start ninth after Anthony Davidson lowered its best time into the 3m27s, while the Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola Aston Martin completes the top 10 as a result of Andrea Bellichi's surprise effort.

Danny Watts's best lap in the first session was good enough for the Strakka Racing Ginetta-Zytek to hold onto 11th on the grid.

The Kolles-run Audi R10s and the two ORECAs were surprisingly off the pace of the front runners and will fill the seventh and eighth rows of the grid respectively.

Casper Elgaard clinched the LMP2 pole position for the Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder with a time less than a tenth of a second faster than Team Goh's Porsche.

Jan Magnussen's lap from the first qualifying session was enough to claim the GT1 pole for the #63 Corvette, beating the best lap of the #64 sister car by half a second.

Similarly, Jorg Bergmeister's best lap of the earlier session was enough to earn the GT2 pole for the Flying Lizards Porsche, just 0.030s quicker than the Felbermayr 911.

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