Le Mans Qualifying
Second Session
Second session and immediately the times come tumbling, with Kristensen in the #1 Audi topping the timesheet with a 3:32.458. That is very fast - stating the obvious.

Bentley #7 in the hands of Martin Brundle had an off at Mulsanne Corner, running off into the gravel with a rear puncture. The car crawled back to the pits with very minor rear bodywork damage, Brundle keen to get the car back out again. Meanwhile teammate Wallace in the sister #8 Bentley is up to 8th

Olivier Beretta in the #16 Chrysler posted third quickest time overall and Stefan Johansson seemed keen to make amends for a poor first session, posting a time first time round good enough for seventh at this stage.

It's all change again, the #3 Champion Audi pops up in third, behind the two Joest cars. 1 - 2 - 3 is rather predictable. Lammers went a quarter of a second quicker, but remains in the 3:36s.

Unable to take advantage of the improved conditions for the early part of the second session are Panoz, both LMP07s are still in the pit garages as the session continues. #12 has a broken propshaft.

Ollie Gavin was doing fine work in the #60 Saleen, taking provisional class pole with an early, outstanding 3:54.

The #37 Dick Barbour Reynard had a problem at the first chicane causing it to stop, briefly, in the centre of the track - Milka Duno got the car moving though, so no need for the safety car. Still in LMP 675, the second #33 MG with Mark Blundell in charge finally sets a time, up to 20th place overall and third in class.

Bad news time. A big off at the second chicane for Ron Fellows in the #63 Corvette left the car with considerable rear end damage, session over for the GTS star of session 1. He's OK, the car isn't. Something seized at the back, apparently. The bright start for the #9 Dome was also over, the car grinding to a halt after the Dunlop bridge. The ROC Reynard squad were busy replacing the engine (and the gearbox?) in the #38 car.

Back in GT, the Larbre Viper was no longer at the top of the tree. Instead the crowd pleasing Callaway C12-R was ahead of the rest with a 4:13.420. Cort Wagner gets the credit for this time. GT order is Callaway, Larbre, Seikel, Taisan, del Bello, PK Sport, Luc Alphand, Perspective, Freisinger (below), Seikel, Racing Engineering.

40 minutes gone and the #34 MG has ground to a halt with fuel pressure problems at Mulsanne Corner. Anthony Reid was in radio contact with the team to see whether the car could make its way back to the pits. MG are showing all the speed expected - and more - but all the expected reliability issues.

Blundell in the MG has moved up to 17th, second in class. An MG 1 - 2. Andy Wallace shows more British form with a 3:37.408, seventh fastest. Brundle's car is still in the pits, but will go out again soon (45 minutes into the second session).

23.00 and it looks as though we've seen the best times of the day. At the top of the list it's
#1 Audi
#2 Audi
#3 Audi
#9 Dome
#16 Chrysler
#7 Bentley
#8 Bentley
#4 Audi
#19 Courage
#15 Chrysler.

GTS is
#60 Saleen
#63 Corvette
#64 Corvette
#58 Viper
#57 Viper
#62 Saleen
#56 Viper
#61 Saleen
#55 Viper.

LMP675 is
#34 MG
#33 MG
#38 Reynard
#36 Reynard
#30 WR
#32 Lola
#37 Reynard
#35 Pilbeam.

The Panoz LMP07s are 21st and 25th, with even the quicker car outpaced by three 675s.

With less than an hour to go and oil down at the entrance to the first chicane, times aren't coming down. 22.00 and just after was the quick time, so the teams are typically going through the night qualification procedure. There are one or two adjustments in the GT class, but nothing really significant. There's a big group in the 4:18 bracket - half the class, in fact.

Xavier Pompidou in the #21 Ascari has heaped further woes upon the Panoz team, his 3:46.398 (3.5 seconds faster than session 1) means that both Ascari cars are now ahed of both Panozes. Ascari haven't matched their pace of the Test Day (yet) despite a new rear engine cover, that allows more air to the rear wing. Not enough rubber down yet? All the drivers have completed their night qualifying laps.

"We know we can match the Ollie Gavin Saleen," reckoned Johnny Mowlem. He's not comfortable in the car, but is reluctant to publicly explain what the problem is.

The Lupberger Ascari stopped on track near the end of the session, after a modest conflagration. The heat burnt through the gearbox temp. sensor, so 'rising' gearbox temps. were the first sign of trouble. Race engine into this car tomorrow.

Conclusions: Beretta and Lammers are the only two to get between the Audi / Bentley conglomerate. Audi have DOMINATED. They're first, second third and eighth (Johansson). Bentley are sixth and seventh - perhaps we expected more of them, perhaps we were just too optimistic, although Brundle might have been quicker at around the time a tyre went down. Lammers is as quick as we might have hoped for. Quickest Judd-powered car by 2.7 seconds. The Cadillacs are both under 3:40 - good show.

Chrysler are showing real pace.....

...... ahead of both Bentleys.

All three Chryslers are in the top 16, with times ranging from 3:36 to 3:42.

The SMG Courage is best of breed in ninth - second quickest Judd-powered car. Gache had been predicting a 3:35, which would have been worth seeing.

Audi are just as likely to dominate as last year, on this form.

MG are the stars of 675.

The Saleen is blindingly quick - in Oliver Gavin's hands, or Terry Borcheller's. Corvette have shown excellent speed, but have had a nightmare with the Fellows car. The Vipers are queueing up, ready to take advantage.

The Callaway is quickest in GT, and that's no real surprise. The Porsches are massing behind, waiting for the race itself, rather than this silly Qualifying business.

And lastly, for tonight - that spirited little fellow in the black and white Dome is going to have a real crack at going faster tomorrow. Fuel pressure troubles lost them time tonight, but stuck behind an Audi lost Jan Lammers at least a second and a half on his best lap. They'll keep the current engine in for tomorrow, and have a go....

Sebastien Bourdais is unhappy with the feel of his Courage. Set up the same as at the Test Day, but not such a good feel.

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Official website of the Le Mans 24 Hours

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