Friday, June 21, 2013

Le Mans: Audi on pole position with a 1-2-3 R18 e-tron quattro

By Tarek Ramchani

Audi Sport Team Joest will start the Le Mans 24 Hours from pole position. The full factory R18 e-tron quattro cars took the three top positions after three qualifying sessions.

Loïc Duval set the fastest time of the three qualifying sessions on Wednesday. An impressive 3:22.349 was enough to give the #2 Audi e-tron quattro pole position. The French driver is sharing the car with Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen. The defending champions, André Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer, improved today and got up to second with their #1 Audi. The #3 car will start from third place with Marc Gené, Oliver Jarvis and Lucas di Grassi. The first of the works Toyota Racing cars is the #8 TS030 Hybrid in fourth place with Anthony Davidsonn, Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Buemi. In fifth place was the second Toyota, the #7 of Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima. The privateer #12 Rebellion Racing with drivers Nicolas Prost, Neel Jani and Nick Heidfeld was in sixth, followed by the #13 Rebellion Lola/Toyota in seventh and the #21 Strakka Racing HPD in eighth.

Today two qualifying sessions were held. In the first session the conditions were really difficult with a very wet track. The session was red flagged after a big crash for an LMP2 car at Indianapolis. Later the second session - a night one - was run on improving track conditions. Audi and Toyota drivers pushed really hard in order to improve. In the end the fastest time of the third session was set by André Lotterer with the #1 Audi, a time of 3:23.696. This lap time pushed the #1 Audi up to second place, whilst the #8 Toyota improved from sixth to fourth place.

Audi has dominated the qualifying sessions, with Toyota chasing behind. The 81st Le Mans 24 Hours race is set for Saturday afternoon. Before that the drivers will be busy tomorrow at the traditional and popular "Parade des Pilotes".

Le Mans 24 Hours starting grid:

1 - #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
2 - #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
3 - #3 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
4 - #8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid
5 - #7 Toyota TS030 Hybrid
6 - #12 Lola B12/60 Toyota
7 - #13 Lola B12/60 Toyota
8 - #21 HPD ARX 03c Honda

Photo credit: Audi Media