72nd Le Mans 24 Hours - Thursday Qualifying - Session 1
Brabham & Gavin.. No McNish & Gavin.. No, Herbert &
Gavin.. Maassen In GT
Here's a typical
Thursday plan (BAM!). Marc Lieb is in the car as the session starts,
Leo Hindery will take over mid-session, then Mike Rockenfeller will
be in the Porsche RSR either side of the break, "to go for
Within the first
20 minutes there have been some significant improvements. Both of
the Lola B160s have improved since yesterday's best efforts, Jon
Field in the Intersport car, Tommy Erdos in the RML one.
Field has set a 3:50.5,
three seconds quicker than yesterday: he's aiming for a 3:39. Erdos
has set a 3:45, also three seconds quicker (with the race engine
fitted), but the RML Lola is still 13th fastest.
Another Lola improvement,
from Didier Andre in the no. 4 Taurus Lola-Judd, a five second improvement,
up to 17th from 19th.
In GTS, the
Corvettes have been split by both Care Racing Ferraris, Enge and
Rydell posting 3:54.2 and 3:54.3 respectively. Gavin's best yesterday
was a 3:52.1. Enge goes faster again, a 3:53.7 - on race tyres,
LMP2 has seen
the Belmondo Courage set a time at last, Gosselin a 4:06 - then
soon afterwards a 4:02.
In GT, the Morgan
with Neil Cunningham at the wheel is suddenly into the 4:24s, six
seconds faster than yesterday after a host of problems, which included
a wheel bearing, brakes, suspension, running out of fuel and poor
visibility of cars about to pass the Aero 8.
Also significant improvements
from Hugenholtz in the Cirtek Ferrari and the Luc Alphand Porsche.
At the other
end of the field, Tom Coronel has set a 3:40 in the (clutch-bothered
yesterday) no.16 Dome (eighth overall), at last eclipsng the lap
he set over 24 hours ago.
And that's the
first half an hour gone.
now changing the rear springs on Jon Field's car, and we're looking
forward to a banzai effort from this man later this evening.
The Dome Mugen
has slipped into the 3:39s, eighth fastest for Katoh, while Michael
Caine in the 89 Chamberlain-Synergy TVR goes quicker than yesterday
with a 4:15.
sets the best time of the session at 19.37, a 3:36.787. Qualifiers
will appear at 20.45?
Jon Field and
his replacement rear springs all go quicker again, with a 3:48.670.
Oh dear, he then puts it off into the gravel, at the Dunlop Chicane.
again in the Paul Belmondo Courage with a 4:02 and then a 4:00.3,
second in class is now within his sights.
In GTS Rydell
chips away at his best time improving by a further few tenths but
still third in class.
The LMP1 Del
Bello Reynard improves to a 3:58 - Nobody seems to notice or care.
of Prodrive reports that both of their Ferrari 550s are on race
tyres and in fact Enge's tyres have done most of a stint already.
So where has the time come from? The track is reported to be much
cleaner and faster than yesterday following the rain and it is much
cooler. Set-up work has also improved the balance of the cars.
The Lola Caterpillar
has ground to a halt at post 123 (The Porsche Curves) with Phil
Andrews at the wheel, it seems with a drivetrain problem and the
Judd powered Turus car is now reported slow out on course too.
reports huge satisfaction with the performance of the Zytek but
frustration at every lap being baulked by traffic.
At thetop of
the hour John Field has had another moment at the Dunlop Curves,
the gravel there seems to have a magnetic attraction for the No
66 Prodrive Ferrari has had its rear end rearranged after an impact
with the wall at the Porsche Curves. The rear wing is missing and
the right hand rear wheel and suspension look rather unlike their
factory settings. Tomas Enge is looking ruefully on as the marshals
load the car onto the recovery truck.
Katoh has put
the Dome Mugen into fifth spot, best of the rest behind the Audis.
Yokahama qualifiers seem to have made an early appearance and
a 3:36.736 is the result.
In GT Ortelli
has finally fulfilled some of the promise of the 85 Freisinger car.
he puts the car up to second in class with a 4:10. At the other
end of the class timing sheet Gareth Evans has stopped in the 96
TVR at the end of Indianapolis.
provisional GTS pole with a 3:51.755 (0.4 seconds quicker than the
is pressing on in the LMP2 Intersport Lola, now up to fourth in
class with a 4:05.
improves again in the 89 TVR, a 4:14.8.
The Morgan is
back in the garage, up on the axle stands.
are beginning to edge down. Capello snips a tenth of the best time
from the third placed Team Goh car and Brabham seems to be on a
flier in the Zytek. Now Katoh is setting fast sector times too.
Nielsen, Jan Lammers and Tom Coronel all make comments to us that
they will have a go at a quick time before 21.00. But Brabham is
the first to go for it....
and the Zytek top the timing charts over the two days, with a 3:33.923.
"That was slightly quicker than I thought," Brabs tells
Radio Le Mans. "I'm quite happy to say that's it, and let's
concentrate on race set-up. I'm sure the Audis will go a bit quicker."
is enjoying every moment of this. "Jan has such a following
here. When he bolts on a set of tyres, everyone gets behind him
and it lifts everyone too. He's a folk hero. We'll be good for the
race. 'Tomo set a 3:42 and I would have had a 3:42 if it wasn't
for traffic in the Porsche Curves, which cost me two seconds."
has qualified the Epsilon Courage IES, and Renaud Derlot shouldn't
have too much trouble doing so. "We're still using the 'bitza'
engine," says Graham-Dale-Jones. "The (Willman) race engine
will go in tomorrow. We've recently cast another five, slightly
modified blocks, and we're moving away from the JPX version."
Are you enjoying
this? "I always enjoy being here, but it's a mix of worrying
C65 has just gone second fastest in class, quicker than Gunnar Jeannette's
best in the Epsilon version - but that doesn't seem very relevant.
Gavin Pickering is very happy with the "linear power curve"
from the IES engine.
and Katoh are both out there and going for it, the latter for the
second time setting the best time on the second sector of the lap
- the Dome's hunting ground of the Mulsanne. But the Yokohama shod
Dome can't seem to maintain such form on the last third of the lap,
but is fastest Dome (and fastest non-Audi / Zytek).
with a 3:34.081, 158 thousandths slower than Brabham, faster than
McNish and back to second, fastest Audi.
The 86 Freisinger
and Burgess Seikel Porsches have both spun at the Dunlop Chicane,
the latter having just set the sixth quickest time in GT.
With Audis second
to fifth, Bourdais goees sixth, a 3:36.525. McNish is on a flier....
and sets a 3:34.064, 17 thousandths faster than Herbert. Still well
matched these two, eh? But Brabham is still on the pole, at a circuit
that probably doesn't favour it as much as most (just like Monza,
15 minutes left
of this session. Martyn Pass passes on the news that the Audi UK
Veloqx cars will not try again... they've relinquished the chance
to go for pole (see below).
by John Nielsen, the Lister has improved, by three seconds to a
3:46.475. The Panoz, having unpacked its new parts, is down to a
3:57.8, nearly ten seconds quicker than yesterday.
- GTS pole... a 3:49.750. Not quite the 3:48 he predicted,
but still the fastest ever lap by a GTS car here, beating Max Papis's
best on April 25.
change of plan with the 88 and 8 Audis: Johnny Herbert and Allan
Mcnish are going out for one more crack at it. They'll only get
one lap in before 21.00.
3:44.379 in the Nasamax, five seconds quicker than yesterday. Not
the 3:39 that John McNeil wanted, but close.
pole a 3:33.233, despite some fairly serious understeer.
Herbert, with a different tail section (different gurney on the
rear wing), is a tenth up on McNish after half the lap.
- pole, 3:33.024, pole position, front row for the Veloqx
cars. Unless the opposition can go quicker at 22.00.
GT: Massen takes pole
with a 4:07.394, Rockenfeller responds with a 4:09.2.
improves to a 3:52, third quickest, behind the sister car - and
Rickard Rydell's 3:51.755, two seconds faster than the (stationary)
Enge car in fourth.
to a 3;36.847, a tenth slower than the Advan Dome, eighth quickest
for the Dutchman. He's been struggling to find a clear lap. Maybe
a 3:34 is possible?
Goh Audi (marginal improvement) 3:35.075
Champion Audi (no improvement) 3:35.892
The rest outside
3:40, apart from Barbosa's 3:39 last night.
(to Radio Le Mans): "I haven't had a pole here. At the moment
it seems that it wasn't a bad choice (to try something else on the
car - the different gurney)."
A much more
interesting session than yesterday....
Good news for
TVR watchers - Larger than life Hugh Chamberlain may have met his
match in Michael Caine "I got on the radio to the driver in
mid-session and told him to push harder. The response I got was
that I got told to "Piss Off, this is a good lap" He was
right too, the 89 car went a second faster than before."
The news would
get better still right at the end of the session, Chris Stockton
making a further improvement, the 89 car now seventh in the class
with a 4:13.8, very creditable.
reports the problem which stopped the 96 car as being "probably
a minor electrical problem." This seems however to have been
the usual Chamberlain shorthand for major engine difficulties.
The BAM! Porsche
has something amiss at the right front, and Rockenfeller had an
LMP1 weave in front of him as it warmed its tyres, and then another
cut in front of him as it pitted - both on the German's best lap,
the low 4:09. He's going to have another go. Will the top prototypes?