Toyota takes one step forward and two back

LE MANS, France -- Andre Lotterer laid down a last minute super lap to take top time in Wednesday evening's first qualifying session. Lotterer and team languished in fourth or fifth place on the qualifying ladder for much of the evening while Toyota TS030 hybrid driver Alexander Wurz put in a 3:27.191 time on a slowing track that was second fastest for a goodly portion of the evening qualifying session. However, before the end of the session he dropped to third when Romain Dumas turned in a late quick lap in the No 3. R18 Ultra and then to fourth when Lotterer laid down his fast lap. Lotterer's lap of 3:25.453 was just a blink of the eye slower than the team's top time in the afternoon practice session and knocked thet wiley veteran team of Allan McNish, Dindo  Capello, and Tom Kristensen in the No. 2 Audi R18 etron into second place on the qualifying ladder. McNish held top time for the majority of the session, but when Kristensen jumped into the car for his last stint of the night he went out and upped McNish's top time with a snazzy 3:25.536 lap with about 20 minutes left in the session. He was about two-tenths of a second faster than McNish. It looked like the No.2 Audi had locked up the top time of the session until Lotterer made his mad midnight dash. Third over all was the No. 3 Audi R18 Ultra while the No. 7 Toyota was fourth, the No. 4. Audi was fifth and the No. 8 Toyota was sixth on the ladder. P2 top time was captured by the Oreca 03-Nissan with Pierre Thiriet doing the honors. LMGTEPro found Tommy Milner in the Corvette C6 ZR1 topping the field while in GTAM the Flying Lizards Porsche 911 RSR  found the top run on the qualifying ladder with Spencer Pumpelly pushing on the fast pedal.

Sun shines on Audi in 1st practice session

LE MANS, France -- The sun danced around the Circuit du La Sarthe this afternoon brightening a day that at time was threatened by showers. It shined brightest on the Audi team as it posted the top four times again -- it did the same thing at the test day last Sunday. This time is was the No. 1 Audi of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, and Benoit Treluyer that took top time. Lotterer did the honors on lap 14 of his 15 laps young the course in 3:25.163 in the Audi R18 e-tron. The second e-tron car had the number two time with Tom Kristensen doing the honors with a lap that was 1331 second slower. The two e-tron cars were followed closely by the two Audi R18 Ultras to sweep qualifying. The No 3 Audi was their and the No 4 was fourth. However, the Toyota team was not that far off the pace in fifth and sixth place with the best time of the two entries  from Toyota 3.258 seconds off the pace. However, it was Toyota that showed its pedigree in turning the fastest speed in the first session of 332.1 kph. That was three kph faster than Audi's best effort that was turned in by the No. 4 R18 Ultra with Marco Bonanomi dialing up the fast Audi time. The Batmobile Delta Car, which is entered as an experimental car had a time that is competitive with the LMP2 cars. Top time for the LMP2 cars went to the Starworks Motorsport Honda-powered team driven by Thomas Kimber-Smith with a time 3:39.656. The Delta Wing, with the same power plant toured the course with a best time of 3:43.576. In the GT classes the Aston Martin Advantage turned turned the tables on the LM GTEPro field with top time. the first session. Darren Turner did the honors for the  Vantage team and pitched a time of 3.57.036. The Ferarri 458 Italia of Luxury  Racing had the second fastest time by a little more that four tenths of a second while the Vette of Corvette Racing turned the third fastest time, another two tenths behind. In LM GTEAm the Vantage again proved itself with a top time that was also faster than several of the GTPro cars. Allan Simonsen turned a 3:57.753 for top honors, a time that was faster than the majority of Pro cars.

Audi takes top three times; Toyota close behind for Sunday Test day at 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France -- The fight is on -- as the Audi team knew it would be. Although the team from Ingolstadt had the three fastest times during the Sunday test session at Circuit de la Sarthe, their main competition, the Toyota TS030 LMP1 hybrid, which is a new entry to the World Endurance Championship, showed that in its first year it will be a formable competitor, turning the fourth and fifth fastest times of the two sessions. The fastest Toyota was about a second and a quarter slower than the fastest Audi, in its first chance to run at the storied track. There is conjecture that the Toyota team was not showing everything that they had on its first session in Le Mans. Top time of the day went to Audi's Allan McNish who toured the nearly 8.5 mile long course in 3m 25.927 seconds in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Former Peugeot driver Alexander Wurtz had top time for the Toyota team with a 3m 27.204 lap but even McNish was impressed with how fast the Toyotas were out of the box at Le Mans noting, "The Toyotas amazed me. At top speed they were really much quicker than us!” McNish, while runnning in the second session also was a casualty of the famed Tertre Rouge corner as he slipped onto the grass and spun 360 degrees before impacting into the barricade ending the test session for the team. Fortunately this was after his teammates, Dindo Capellos and Tom Kristensen had had put in their seat time and after McNish has turned the top time of the day. "Dindo (Capello) already felt very comfortable in the new car and Tom (Kristensen) further improved balance. That meant I took over a car that was set up well for the areas of the track that have new tarmac. As always, grip was low on the dirty track at the beginning of the test day. I drove fast and consistent lap times. Unfortunately, toward the end while entering Tertre Rouge I briefly touched the grass, spun 360 degrees and touched the guard rails," he said of the shunt. The No. 21 Honda HPD was the speediest of the LMP1 cars with ‘classic’ petrol engines, with Danny Watts at the wheel. Watts' time 3m34.243 seconds was well off the times set by the Diesel Hybrids and the Toyota Hybrids. LMP2 saw Oak Racing dominate both test sessions as Olivier Pla did the honors in the No. 35 Morgan-Judd with a time 3m41.291 seconds. Nissan Delta Wing, albeit non-classified also treated race fans to its first laps at Le Mans. The futuristic car will run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans under the banner of the 56th Pit Box, but will not be classified. The Scotsman Marino Franchitti, who set a time of 3m47.980, was thrilled. “It was a perfect demonstration,” he explained. "No mechanical problems, easy to drive. It was very encouraging for the race and we know in which direction to go in order to gain performance.” In the GTE Pro category the 458 Ferrari with Frederic Makowieckiat the wheel turned top time of the day -- but just by a whisker over the No. 74 Corvette with Olivier Gavin at the wheel. Makowieckiat was .102 of a second faster around the track than the Vette. In the GTE AM category Allan Simonsen driving an Aston Martin Vantage V8 pushed the car around the track in 3:59.938 which was fastest of the day for the GTE AMs and a middle of the pack time for the GTE Pros.
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