Audi takes early initiative at Le Mans


The first qualifying sessions at Le Mans ended with Audi being its own main competitor.

Audi has entered two different models this year. There are two R18 Ultras, which are evolutions of last year's R18. However, there are also two R18 e-tron quattros that are diesel hybrids. That may sound strange, but the rules favour the fuel economy of diesels, while hybrid technology helps economy further.

"On the whole we had a very productive day," said Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport. "Finding a good setup for the unusually cool temperatures in the night session wasn't easy because the grip level on the track was pretty low.

"In the end," he commented, "we managed that quite well on new tyres. I do think, though, that even faster times will be driven tomorrow."

The fastest petrol-powered car in the LMP1 category was the Strakka Racing HPD ARX03a at 3:32.750. In LMP2 the Oreca/Nissan was leading the pack at 3:39.252. Amongst production-related cars, the Corvette C6.R No. 74 was quickest in the GTE Pro class at 3:55.910, followed by the Luxury Racing Ferrari 458 Italia.

The novelty car of the year also performed well. Nissan's amazing DeltaWing was 26th overall, at 3:42.612, which was in line with Nissan's expectations.

If you were wondering what it is like to drive at Le Mans at night, American NASCAR driver Brian Vickers, and Le Mans newcomer, tweeted: "This is nuts! No track lights. Head lights suck. Driving through woods on a street road at 170 mph while racing other cars with no spotters!" Simples.

Final qualifying takes place on Thursday from 1900-2100 and 2200-0000 (French time).