The front row of the grid at the 79th edition of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans belongs to Audi. In one of the most thrilling qualifying events in recent years the new Audi R18 TDI and the company’s ultra-lightweight technology prevailed. Benoit Treluyer set a time of 3m 25.738s and clinched the top grid position for Audi. His French team-mate Romain Dumas was merely 0.061 seconds slower.
- First pole position for Audi at Le Mans since 2006
- Front row is firmly in Audi’s hands
- Audi R18 TDI also impresses with consistency
For Audi, this marks the sixth pole position at Le Mans in total and the first since 2006 when the brand with the four rings achieved the first victory of a diesel-powered vehicle at the world’s most famous endurance race. Although Audi Sport Team Joest concentrated on preparing for the race again on Thursday night, the three Audi R18 TDI cars set the pace in the two final qualifying sessions.
Benoit Treluyer’s performance was particularly impressive. The Frenchman clinched the pole position 30 minutes before midnight on the 21st lap of a race simulation on used tires – also thanks to the full LED headlights of the R18 TDI which ensure optimal illumination of the track at night. The competition despite making several attempts to do so tried in vain to beat Treluyer’s fastest time in the final phase of the captivating qualifying in which the fastest six cars were running within just six tenths of a second.
This was the first pole position at Le Mans for Treluyer, who together with Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer, will start from the grid in the number “2” Audi R18 TDI.
In the Audi R18 TDI trimmed for uncompromising lightweight design Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller clinched the front row as well. The car designated as number “1” had been slightly damaged in the first qualifying session on Wednesday night.
The crew of car number “3” on the other hand is in for a lot of work. While trying to push forward onto the two front rows of the grid from fifth place Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen slid against the track barrier in the “Tertre Rouge” section. Despite extensive damage the R18 TDI driven by Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish can be repaired before the race. The single-component carbon fiber monocoque remained intact in the impact.
The 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be started on Saturday at 3 p.m. by FIA President Jean Todt. Audi has the chance to secure its tenth Le Mans victory. In view of the extremely narrow time gaps between the front runners it will be more important than ever to deliver a zero-mistake performance in the race.