Audi were fastest after a difficult first session for many teams. We had hazy sun for the start of the session. As the pit lane lights went green at precisely 19:00 hrs the first car out on the track was No.72 LUC ALPHAND AVENTURES LM GT1 CORVETTE C6-R driven by Jerome Policand. Most of the Teams used these opening laps to make sure all the systems are working and the set up is correct. It is also an opportunity to allow the drivers a chance to settle into their cars.
At 19.15hrs Joao Barbosa brought No.18 ROLLCENTRE RACING LM P1 PESCAROLO JUDD in for a rollbar changes. Martin Short told us: “We are going for a good set up. The pressure is on. We’ll go out for a time when we are happier with the set up. Come back and talk to us later!” Just minutes after Barbosa left the pits, he came back and Martin Short took over in the driver seat.
No.82 TEAM LNT LM GT2 PANOZ ESPERANTE finally made it back to the pits with a totally delaminated front tyre. It seemed the tyre simply exploded destroying the front underwing and headlight assembly. No 82 Panoz driver Rob Bell told us : “There just was a big explosion in the Hunaudières… and it was obviously the front right tyre. It caused extensive damage to the front end, and we won’t be coming back out before the second session tonight”.
Car No.78 AF CORSE LM GT2 FERRARI F 430 GT got a puncture in the left rear and made it back to the pits. It was possibly due to driving over the wreckage from the No.53 JLOC ISAO NORITAKE LM GT1 LAMBORGHINI MURCIELAGO that went off at the PlayStation chicane. Marco Apicella was driving the Lambo at the time of the accident. The damage to the car was comprehensive and spread across the entire circuit. Apicella was transported to the trackside medical center.
The extended red flag as a result of the No.53 incident was only lifted at 20:53 and almost immediately the heavens opened over Indianapolis and Mulsanne corners delivering a deluge of rain. All the cars lining up in the pitlane were on slicks so we were treated to the unusual sight of fifteen cars being pushed backwards down the pitlane to change to wet tyres. As a result of the delays and the wet track, the first session was extended by 15 minutes to conclude at 21:15.
The No.1 AUDI SPORT NORTH AMERICA LM P1 AUDI R10 with Pirro at the wheel was fast at the end of the session in mixed conditions, but Biela put up the fast time for the entire session in front of the No.8 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL LM P1 PEUGEOT 908 driven by Sarrazin.