Bourdais holds fast, Peugeot locks out front two rows at Le Mans

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Sebastian Bourdais’ sub-3:20 lap from Wednesday help up through the second qualifying session at Le Mans, and Peugeot LMP1 cars claimed the first four starting positions.

That’s right. There is not a single Audi in the front two rows.

Here’s the race’s official take on the session, which I have to say is, in a word, charming:

No surprises at the top of the timing screens at the end of the final qualifying. The Peugeot stranglehold on the top four places could not be broken. It was clear that the Audis had no answer to give tonight, but the question remains if they are playing the long game rather than taking risks. It remains to be seen if they have a response to give during the race.

LM P2 leaders the #42 Strakka Racing LMP2 HPD ARX.01 driven by Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane and the #26 Highcroft Racing LMP2 HPD ARX.01 driven by David Brabham, Marino Franchitti and Marco Werner made a sandwich of the LM P1 tail enders #12 Rebellion in the ‘mildly moist’ conditions in the final qualifying session.

The hottest battle for grid positions was in LM GT1 and LM GT2 with #52 Young Driver AMR LMGT1 Aston Martin DBR9 driven by Christoffer Nygaard, Tomas Enge and Peter Kox at the top of GT1 and #82 Risi Competizione LMGT2 Ferrari F 430 GT driven by Jaime Melo, Gianmaria Bruni and Pierre Kaffer leading GT2, who were so confident that they elected to pack up and go home early.

Autosport gives us a little Bourdais quote and the final gird:

“It was a really, really strong effort,” said Bourdais. “Everyone is really happy with the performance of the car and how comfortable it is to drive it. I am very proud to put the #3 car on pole, but this is only the start.

“Obviously we are happy that they [Audi] didn’t put on a great show, or display a great amount of speed, but honestly we just focused on our own things – to make our car the fastest one and to be in a good position for the race. Then the tough job is still ahead of us, so we’re not going to get carried away. We will just stay smart and be conservative when we have to.

“I’m impressed with the margin of progress we displayed [over last year]. The way the car drives now compared to last year is very much appreaciated. I couldn’t really throw it all before, but now I really feel like I can.”

In our “follow the former F1 drivers” race, here’s some additional breakdowns:

  • Anthony Davidson is in the second-fastest Pug.
  • Allen McNish is back in sixth in the Audi.
  • The all-Mansell team is in 18th.
  • Romain Grosjean is in the third-placed GT1 Ford.
  • Giancarlo Fisichella’s Ferrari is a bit back in the GT2 class, starting fourth in class and 39th overall.

Anyone see anything surprising? Is the Pug showing catching you off guard?

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