FRIDAY 17TH JUNE 2005
Henri Pescarolo's self titled team have won the first part of the battle for taking a Le Mans 24 hour race win by putting their cars in first and second place on the grid for the 73rd running of the 24 heures du Mans.
The #16 Judd powered Pescarolo Sport piloted by Emanuel Collard, Jean Christophe Boullion and Erik Comas put itself atop the timesheets early in the final two hour qualifying session as darkness decended at the world famous motor racing venue.
With the new regulations penalising the previously dominant Audi R8s, the second fastest car at the end of Thursday's running was the sister car to the pole-sitting Pescarolo, with the Ayari/Helary/Loeb combination some eight tenths adrift of the lead car, with its time set in the earlier session, where it was slower than the #16 car, although the fastest time was disallowed.
"These two first places on the grid reward the magnificent work of all the team," team boss Henri Pescarolo said. "We had an objective to prepare for the race, and while the most difficult bit is still to come we have crossed the first step in a beautiful way."
Fastest Audi honours went to Allan McNish in the #2 Champion Racing car he shares with Frank Biela and Emmanuel Pirro. Alongside the #2 car when the race starts on Saturday afternoon will be the #5 Dome-Mugen of Nicolas Minassian, Jamie Campbell Walter and Andy Wallace.
LM2 honours went the way of the #37 Paul Belmondo Racing Courage-Ford with the French/US driving combination of Belmondo, Andre and Sutherland, with the twelfth fastest lap overall.
GT1 pole went the way of a stunning lap lap from Tomas Enge in the Prodrive Aston with a 3min 48.576secs, 1.2 seconds ahead of the other British green machine. The best 'vette was nearly three seconds adrift of the slowest Aston.
Lead GT2 car was the #71 Alex Job Racing Porsche which will start from 33rd overall.
1. Collard/Boullion/Comas Pescarolo-Judd 3min 34.715secs
2. Ayari/Helary/Loeb Pescarolo-Judd 3min 35.555secs
3. Biela/Pirro/McNish Audi R83min 37.795secs
4. Michigami/Ara/Kaneishi Dome-Mugen 3min 38.094secs
5. Gounon/Ortelli/Montagny Audi R8 3min 38.281secs
6. Cochet/Jouanny/Nakano Courage-Judd 3min 38.735secs
7. Minassian/Campbell-Walter/Wallace DBA-Judd 3min 38.929secs
8. Lehto/Werner/Kristensen Audi R8 3min 38.988secs
9. Short/Barbosa/Ickx Dallara-Judd 3min 39.643secs
10. Hignett/Stack/Kurosawa Zytek 3min 41.177secs
Comas, Bouillon, Collard