Le Mans update: Bourdais, Pugs dominate first quali

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As noted in our shocked, shocked first post on Le Mans, Sebastian Bourdais was the lone driver to put in a sub-3:20 at Le Mans during the race’s first qualifying session, which ended less than an hour ago.

And, to put it mildly, it was a Peugeot spanking on the Audi LMP1s today. The three Pugs are at the top of the time sheets and the ORECA Pug is slotted in fourth, pushing the Audis to the fifth through seventh spot.

As the Autosport recap notes, the day was filled with red flags and crashes and the general craziness that is Le Mans:

Sarrazin got airborne in the #2 908 at Tertre Rouge, spoiling his attempt to match Lapierre’s time, and Bourdais also missed it by a tenth of a second. The session then came to a halt because the #88 Felbermayr Porsche had spun and obstructed the track on the run up to Indianapolis.

The ORECA car remained marooned out on the circuit for the rest of the session, although Lapierre’s time stood for another hour. When the session restarted after a second stoppage, the remaining Peugeots began a charge – running almost in formation and followed by the factory Audis.

All three works Peugeots beat the ORECA’s time – Bourdais led with a 3m19.711s, then turned down the wick, repeatedly setting fastest times in the first sector then backing off.

“I had a scary moment at the Ford chicane on my fast lap,” said Bourdais. “It was very quick.”

Alexander Wurz aborted a hot lap at the end of the session and was second fastest in the #1 908, followed by Sarrazin in the #2 car.

The rest of the field looked like this:

HPD chassis continued to dominate LMP2. Jonny Kane set the first benchmark time (3m36.168s) for Strakka Racing, just ahead of David Brabham in the Highcroft entry (3m37.202s). Brabham emerged in the final 15 minutes of the session, hotly pursued by Danny Watts in the Strakka car, but neither driver improved their car’s qualifying time.

The trio of Tomas Enge, Cristoffer Nygaard and Peter Kox maintained a comfortable margin ahead of their GT1 rivals in the #52 Aston Martin DBR9, setting a time of 3m55.025s early in the session. It was good enough to stand throughout, ending 2.271s ahead of the repaired #60 Ford GT of Mutsch/Grosjean/Hirschi.

In GT2, Gianmaria Bruni made the early running in the #82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 (3m59.233s) but a transmission glitch caused the car to start crabbing and it was sidelined for much of the session while mechanics investigated. Another Ferrari frontrunner, AF Corse, also hit trouble when Matias Russo crashed the #96 car at the Porsche Curves, causing the second red flag.

Our other F1-related drivers’ days look like this:

  • The trio of Mansells are back in 16th spot.
  • Romain Grosjean’s team is second in GT1.
  • Giancarlo Fisichella’s GT2 team is a handful of spots back from the leader.

Who did I miss?

Anthony Davidson is in the second-place Pug. He and Bourdais might be battling it out this weekend. Won’t Grace be torn!

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