LE MANS

LE MANS 2014 – PORSCHE LEAPS AHEAD

Although this first day of track activity was marked with Loïc Duval’s violent incident in the No.1 Audi, Porsche put itself in the lead during the first qualifying session. In the LM P2 class, Morgan topped the time-sheets while Ferrari was dominated the LM GTE Pro and Am classes.

The free practice session that took place between 4 pm and 8 pm was marked by the violent incident that happened to Loïc Duval at the wheel of the No. 1 Audi. The French driver, winner of the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Endurance Championship title holder, had an accident at the exit of the Porsche Curves.

The ACO medical and technical services came to his aid immediately, taking him first to the Medical Center of the circuit before transferring him to the Le Mans Hospital for examination.

His status, considered satisfactory, will not allow him to take part in the 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Saturday June 14th and Sunday June 15th. Medical delegates submitted a report to the marshals disallowing him from racing after the accident he experienced.

Marc Gené, Audi reserve driver, entered until now in the No. 38 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan, has been authorized by the college of marshals to join the No. 1 Audi driver line-up as of tomorrow. At the same time, the college authorized the Jota Sport team to replace him with the Brit Oliver Turvey as of tomorrow. Turvey will proceed with all administrative verifications before taking his place in the No. 38 Zytek during Thursday’s session.

Following the incident, the No. 1 Audi chassis is no longer usable. Audi Sport Team Joest presented a request to the technical marshals to be able to use a new tub, and presented this to the marshals. They gave their authorization for Audi Sport Team Joest to rebuild the No. 1 car around this new tub. The team will present it tomorrow for technical inspection.

Strictly in terms of performances, this free practice session, cut short by almost an hour, was dominated by the No. 8 Toyota (Davidson, Lapierre, Buemi) with a time of 3:23:652.

At 10:00 p.m, after a two-hour break, the first qualifying session was underway. It was a session unfortunately cut short. It was 11:04 p.m. indeed when the No. 99 Aston Martin had an incident at the Karting curve, driven by the Brazilian Fernando Rees. Though the driver was ok, the debris left by the incident meant the session would not resume.

All the teams waited patiently to go after the pole position, but it was an assault that could not take place.

At the close of the qualifying session, the No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid clocked the best time in 3:23:157 ahead of its sister car, the No. 14 (Dumas, Jani, Lieb) at seven tenths. Next came the two Toyota TS 040 Hybrids followed by the two remaining Audis. The fastest LM P2 car was the No. 26 Morgan-Nissan (Rusinov, Pla, Canal) in 3:38:843.

In the LM GTE Pro class, best time for the official No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia (Bruni, Vilander, Fisichella) in 3:54:754 and in the LM GTE Am class for another Ferrari, the No. 72 (Basov, Bertolini, Shaïtar) with 3:56:787.

The 55 24 Hours of Le Mans competitors return to the track tomorrow starting at 7:00 p.m. for four hours of qualifying (7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. then 10:00 p.m. to midnight). The start of the 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be given Saturday, June 14th at 3:00 p.m.