By Tarek Ramchani
Action has started at the Circuit de La Sarthe with a single 4-hour free practice session. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars were among the fastest overall but one of them was heavily damaged.
At exactly 17h05, Loïc Duval driving the factory #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro had a sever crash at the very fast Porsche Curves. Loic's conditions are encouraging and given how severe the crash was, it's a miracle that the French Audi driver was unharmed. We at the Audi Motorsport Blog we wish a very quick recovery to Loïc Duval.
Obviously the session was red flagged for several minutes and resumed after cleaning the track.
At the end of the four-hour session (after a new red flag), all three Audi Sport Team Joest run R18 e-tron quattro cars were within the Top 5. Best ranked Audi was the #2 R18 e-tron quattro in the hands of André Lottere, Benoit Tréluyer and Marcel Fassler in second overall. The 2011 and 2012 Le Mans winners set a best time of 3:23.976 only 0.324s behind the leading #8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid with the fastest time of 3:23.652.
The #7 Toyota was third followed by two other Audis. The #1 R18 e-tron quattro, the car that crashed finished fourth with Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi with a best time of 3:24.729. The #3 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marco Bonanomi, Oliver Jarvis and new comer Filipe Albuquerque was fifth fastest with a best time of 3:24.829.
The two works Porsches 919 Hybrids were sixth (#20 car) and seventh (#14 car) followed by the two privateers Rebellion Racing R-Ones in eighth (#12 car) and nineth (#13 car) positions.
Free practice session LMP1 standing:
1 #8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid 3:23.652
2 #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 3:23.976
3 #7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid 3:24.291
4 #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 3:24.729
5 #3 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 3:24.829
6 #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid 3:26.602
7 #14 Porsche 919 Hybrid 3:27.374
8 #12 Rebellion R-One Toyota 3:31.212
9 #13 Rebellion R-One Toyota 3:36.345
The action will resume next with the first of the three qualifying sessions. All three brands will battle for the provisional pole position in a 2-hour session between 22:00 and 00:00 local time.
Photo credit: Audi Media