Peugeot on top again

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"For a driver pole is important, for the team it's not."

Stephane Sarrazin will most certainly be agreeing with Allan McNish's comment after setting the fastest time in qualifying at Le Mans and becoming only the second driver after Jacky Ickx in the history of the race to qualify in pole on three consecutive occasions.

The French driver put in three stunning laps in the last half hour of qualifying in a desperate bid to snatch pole from McNish, who had topped the times at the end of the first session in the the #1 Audi. His time of 3m23.650s was the target but it wasn't until the final 10 minutes that Sarrazin took the position with a time of 3.22.880s.

Sarrazin's first two flying laps looked good enough and he was setting fastest sector times only for them to be spoiled by slower traffic, ironically both of them Audis; first the #14 Kolles-run Audi R10 got in the way and then a lap later so did Tom Kristensen in the #1 R15. Sarrazin pitted for new tyres and immediately after his out lap he did enough to take top spot.

The former F1 and World Rally driver has plenty of experience of Le Mans, most recently with Aston Martin in the GT1 class before switching to Peugeot for full honours in LMP1. That he has been the fastest driver for the French team in the past three years illustrates his skill and experience around the Le Mans circuit and should provide inspiration for his two co-drivers, Sebastien Bourdais and Franck Montagny.

Unlike Ickx though, Sarrazin has yet to convert those pole positions into wins. Can Peugeot break the Audi monopoly and finally claim victory on home turf? As McNish said recently, Peugeot are a different team this year - perhaps there will be no false dawn this time.

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