June 10, 2011

Le Mans 24 hours Night Qualifying Final

The race this weekend seems to be full of drama and amazing racing. A lot happened in the final session, and this weekend promises to be full of awesome racing. The picture comes from Wikipedia.

For the P1 diesels it was a battle to see who could get pole. Romain Dumas snagged it early in the #1 Audi with a 3.25.7 within the first 15 minutes. However, not long after this the session was red flagged for an incident in Mulsanne Corner between the 009 Aston Martin, and the #58 Ferrari 458. Once the session restarted there was just under an hour and twenty minutes remaining in the session. When it was all said and done, The #2 Audi was on top with a time of 3:25.738 set by Treluyer. This is about what I thought the P1 diesels would be doing. The second place car was the #1 Audi with a 3:25.799, and in third was the #9 Peugeot. Amazing with all the fast times that were being thrown down, the top six factory cars are with .5 of a second of each other. The Audi cars are fastest in the first and third sectors, but the Peugeots are fastest in the second on the Mulsanne. Several times what could have been a lap in the low 25's turn into just another lap due to traffic or to a small error. Everyone was on the edge in the final session. The Rebellion Racing #12 powered by a Toyota engine took the petrol honors with a 3:32.883, edging out the Pescarolo Judd that set a 3:33.066.

In P2 The Signatech Nissan managed to take pole with a time of 3:41.458. Second was Strakka Racing with a 3:42.615 set in Q3. Amazing for a car that was in pieces just a day before. For third place there was Oreca Matmut with a 3:43.098. As I mentioned earlier in a post, getting these cars to finish the race will be an achievement.

GTE-Pro had its world rocked earlier in the day with Bruni setting a stunning time, and BMW having a car pretty much demolished earlier at the end of Q2. This didn't stop the team from making a statement, Farfus piloted the #55 BMW M3 to a pole time of 3:57.592. About 1.5 seconds faster than the time set by Corvette from last year, and almost a full second faster than the sister car that was crashed. Second place sees the AF Corse Ferrari 458 with a time of 3:58.040. Third is still held by the #56 BMW with a time of 3:58.426. What remains to be seen though is how bad the 56 really was, and how fast it will be if it is repaired.

For GTE-AM, AF Corse stomped the field by 1.3 seconds in the F430 with a time of 4:01.282. Second place is held by the #63 Proton Competition 997 with a time of 4:03.532. Third place sees the 81 Flying Lizards Motorsports 997 with a time of 4:03.648 set in the final session.

Other Notes

The red flag period was caused by the incident between the 009 and 58 Ferrari at Mulsanne Corner. There was reports of oil put down from Mulsanne Corner to Arnage. The oil was most likely deposited by the 009 Aston Martin, which limped back to the pits with a punctured left rear. Aston Martin continues to find time in the car through each session. However, testing and qualifying sessions are over and they are still the slowest P1 petrol/gas powered car beside the Hope Racing Hybrid.

Several of the ALMS regular series teams are struggling. Robertson Racing has cited various possible issues, but still hasn't pinpointed the issue. Corvette qualified fourth and sixth and has been in fourth and fifth most of the sessions. Level 5 Motorsports has been well off the pace, and the Flying Lizards GTE-Pro team has been off the pace as well.

At then of the session there was another significant incident for Audi. This time though it was a lone car incident for the Dane, Tom Kristensen. In the closing moments Kristensen attempting a final flying lap appeared to drop a wheel at Tetre Rouge before the Mulsanne straight put the car into the outside tire barrier. This brought the end to the session. I believe that the #1 will be repaired. All the drivers and Dr. Ulrich have stated that the cars are very stout, and after seeing Romain Dumas impact the #60 Aston Martin Vantage, I believe it.

What isn't clear though is the extent to the damage of the 56 BMW. The impact appeared to be rather severe, but it is very possible this car will be ready for the green flag on Saturday.

Entire qualifying results and break down of sector times can be found at lemans.org.

Everything can change in an instant. As Mike Rockenfeller found out one year, a momentary lapse of concentration can spell disaster. Now we turn to the start of the 24 hours on Saturday, and anxiously await the final results of who will stand on top of the podium.

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