06-12-2008, 10:32 PM #1
LE MANS: Magnussen has 'Vette up front
LE MANS: Magnussen has 'Vette up front
South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com wire reports
June 12, 2008
PARIS - Corvette Racing's record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001 is as impressive as any with five GT1 victories. Jan Magnussen gave America's premier sports car team its first pole position in the world's greatest race on Thursday. Magnussen turned a lap of 3:47.688 (133.911 mph) to better his time set Wednesday in the Corvette C6.R he will share with Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows.
Magnussen and Patrick Long in GT2 gave the American Le Mans Series two drivers on class pole positions for the weekend's 76th running of Le Mans.
The two-day qualifying session continued the momentum the Corvette drivers established in the first half of the American Le Mans Series season. The trio in the No. 63 factory entry won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and Magnussen and O'Connell lead the GT1 championship with three victories in four races.
Magnussen, O'Connell and Fellows have combined for 74 American Le Mans Series victories to go along with eight wins at Le Mans. Magnussen's time was just 0.093 seconds ahead of Christophe Bouchut in the Larbre Competition Saleen S7R, the smallest of margins over an 8.468-mile circuit.
Oliver Gavin in the other works Corvette qualified third at 3:48.539 (133.400 mph); Gavin will drive with Olivier Beretta and Max Papis. They did not finish last year's race after the Corvette's driveshaft failed in the first two hours. He was less than a half-second ahead of Aston Martin Racing's David Brabham in the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9.
Long threw down a stunning lap of 3:58.152 (128.016 mph) in the IMSA Performance Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. America's lone Porsche factory driver is going for a class repeat with Richard Lietz and Raymond Narac. Long, who drives a Porsche RS Spyder with Sascha Maassen for Penske Racing in the US, was just ahead of Wolf Henzler in the Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche.
Henzler drives for Flying Lizard Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series and leads the driver's championship with Jörg Bergmeister. Driving with Alex Davison and Horst Felbermayr, Henzler's qualifying time was 3:59.072 (127.523 mph) in his Le Mans debut.
Speaking of Flying Lizard, the team elected to concentrate on race setup Thursday and did not improve on Bergmeister's time of 4:00.106 (126.974 mph) he set Wednesday. He will drive with Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman. Risi Competizione, the other American Le Mans Series representation in the class, saw its Ferrari F430 GTs qualify sixth and 11th in GT2.
Sascha Maassen, Long's teammate at Penske, qualified second in LMP2 in Team Essex's Porsche RS Spyder. Maassen's time from Wednesday of 3:33.441 (142.836 mph) held up Thursday and ended 1.14 seconds behind Jos Verstappen in the Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche.
The top five positions didn't change Thursday. Peugeot's three diesel-powered Peugeot 908s were quickest with Stephane Sarrazin setting a Le Mans record with a lap of 3:18.513 (153.578 mph) on Wednesday. Allan McNish was the quickest of the nine Audi drivers with a 3:23.847 (149.559 mph) in the Audi R10 TDI that he will drive with Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen. McNish's time was third quickest overall Thursday behind a pair of Peugeots.
The Team Cytosport/Charouz Racing System Lola-Judd of Greg Pickett, Klaus Graf and Jan Lammers finished qualifying 12th fastest overall and in LMP1 with Graf improving to at 3:31.135 (144.397 mph). Autocon Motorsports' Creation-Judd of Michael Lewis, Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman made the biggest jump of the day by nearly nine seconds. Lewis' time of 3:47.695 (133.895 mph) was the Creation's best lap.
The 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs from 9 a.m. ET (3 p.m. local time) Saturday, June 14 to 9 a.m. ET Sunday, June 15 from the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Forty-four drivers will represent the American Le Mans Series, whose teams have captured seven overall victories and 22 class championships since 1999. SPEED will televise the event live, and Radio Le Mans will have flag-to-flag coverage of the race as well as practice and qualifying on June 11 and 12.