Pre Le Mans
This will be the last item in this part of the Le Mans coverage. With Qualifying starting in about three hours time at 19.00, we'll have a new section ready to go.

Den Bla Avis are hoping for a rainy race to exploit their Dome - and John Nielsen - to the full. Nielsen plans a steady pace but believes their real advantage could be Goodyear wets. "10 hours of rain would be good for us, the Goodyears are worth maybe 20 seconds a lap over the others".

Hugh Chamberlain was realistic about the chances of the stunning MG EX 257 LMP675 cars. "This is a three year project and whilst the car is quick, we have no chance over a long distance. This isn't a long distance car yet."

Martin O'Connell will qualify the Rowan Racing Pilbeam. The team have been helped enormously by the input of third driver Francois Migault. Migault will start his 24th Le Mans 24 hours race in the Alphaclub.com sponsored car. The car's designer, Mike Pilbeam, first met Migault at LM in 1974 when the Frenchman was racing for BRM. The current car could be brought right down the 675 weight limit "fairly easily", but Pilbeam would like to build a dedicated 675 car.

At Chrysler, Olivier Beretta was eager to get some track time. Beretta only did two laps at the test weekend after an installation problem with the engine of the #16 Chrysler-Mopar. Can the Chrysler team take the battle to Audi in qualifying? "I hope so," said Olivier "But then everything is new, new chassis and a new spec. for the engine".

Ralf Kelleners in the Champion Audi squad was out on the airport runway on Monday evening testing whether a gearbox electrical glitch which emerged during practice had been sorted.

Kelleners is likely to qualify the #3 Audi and reflected that though the #1 and #2 factory cars allegedly had the new direct injection engine in place for the test weekend, the Joest team were disappointed with the cars' pace. Despite this, the factory cars are expected to be as much as 1.5 seconds per lap quicker than the privateer Audis in race set up. But this is Le Mans and, as Kelleners said, "we may not be able to beat them on pure pace but it's a 24 hour race and luck will play a part."

Over at the Gulf pit, team Boss Mike Earle had heard forecasts of rain for Wednesday. The team plan to install their race engine after tonight's first qualifying session and then use Thursday for race set up with the race 'box' being installed on Friday.

Anthony Kumpen, in the #56 Paul Belmodo Viper was quietly confident. "The Viper will have the carbon brakes for the first time in qualifying, and whilst we know the Saleens will be quick, I think we can aim for a podium." Quick driver, reliable car, GTS could throw up some surprises.

Official website of the Le Mans 24 Hours
Official website of the Le Mans 24 Hours

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