Audi Hybrid takes pole for Le Mans 24 Hour

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The Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer took pole with a time of 3m 23.787 s, two seconds quicker than last year

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Audi has taken pole position for the Le Man 24 Hour race with its new R18 e-tron quattro, with André Lotterer beating last year’s best time by nearly two seconds. Audi qualified second and sixth with the Audi R18 ultra and first and fourth with the two R18 e-tron quattros. Toyota's TS030 hybrids managed third and fifth to set up an interesting battle of with hybrids filling four of the top five grid placings. The race runs for 24 hours this weekend and you can monitor the tussle in a variety of ways.

The grid for tomorrow's race reads as follows:

1 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 23.787 s

2 Dumas/Duval/Gené (Audi R18 ultra) 3m 24.078s

3 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin (Toyota) 3m 24.842s

4 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) 3m 25.433s

5 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima (Toyota) 3m 25.488s

6 Bonanomi/Jarvis/Rockenfeller (Audi R18 ultra) 3m 26.420s

The 80th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours will be started on Saturday at 15:00 in France, and broadcast live by numerous TV channels worldwide. The official web site for the race offers a variety of news and timing services, and you can listen to the race on Radio Le Mans and even watch it on LeMansLive, LeMans-TV and on Audi Live Racing.

If you want to view the most accurate predictor of the winners, you need look no further than the internet as there are numerous betting sites on the internet offering not just pre-race odds (such as these below), but you can even bet live during the race.

We're proposing the bookmaker sites as an interesting extra "feed" of information, not because we're promoting gambling, but because they reflect the most up-to-date and accurate assessment of the probability of events occuring.

One of the more interesting aspects of the race will be to see how the 2WD Toyota hybrid compares to the 4WD Audi hybrid, and some insight was given on Toyota's choice of technology by Toyota test driver Alexander Wurz who told the press this week that he had tested both 2WD and 4WD versions of the TS 030 late last year.

Wurz told LeMansLive that the 2WD configuration was chosen "to be able to use the extra power from a standstill rather than from the 120 kph specified by the rules for 4WD cars, and to develop a lighter, simpler system, without the mechanical drag and inertia inherent to the extra 4WD hardware."

We've put together an extensive gallery of images of Le Mans race week, and a number of quotes from various team members after qualifying.

Quotes after Qualifying

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “I think it’s fantastic that we’ve captured the front row of the grid for Audi. As expected, our e-tron quattro is a bit faster than the Audi R18 ultra. And we could see that our competition from Toyota is close. Still, we’re running in front – that may not necessarily be important for the race but it’s a good base and, most importantly, great motivation for the squad that has been working so hard for this.”

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “We finished qualifying without any kind of incidents. We’ve worked out a successful set-up for all four cars. All the drivers are convinced that they’ve got a good race car. They were consistently fast. But with all cars we also went on the chase for times with less fuel and fresh tyres once. That worked out better with some than with other – because traffic on track is a problem, among other things. In the end, Toyota unpacked fresh tires once more. They were running very fast. Congratulations on third place. That’s a respectable result on running for the first time. They showed that we mustn’t forget them in the race. ‘Thank you’ to the squad that perfectly prepared the cars, working nightshifts some of the time. This gives the drivers the resulting confidence.”

Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “First of all, I’ve got to congratulate André (Lotterer) on this superb lap! He countered once more after Loïc Duval had bumped us from the top stop in between – that was really cool. I’m really proud of him. The car is good. Both at night and during the day I found a good rhythm and I’m really confident because our R18 e-tron quattro is easy to drive – and that’s very important for a 24-hour race.”

André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Clinching pole at Le Mans is a cool feeling. Of course a lot can happen in the race but our performance does show that we’ve got a strong car in our R18 e-tron quattro. So my thanks go to the squad that has been working hard for this for a year. I received only one set of new tyres and had only one free lap which I made good use of. It’s good to know that the speed is there because the competition does not sleep. Toyota showed what they’re capable of toward the end of qualifying. We’ve now got a good starting base and have given the mechanics a nice reward for their fantastic commitment in the past few days.”

Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “We’re very pleased with qualifying. Everything went according to plan: André (Lotterer) managed to drive a fast lap in order to secure a place at the front. Afterwards we continued to focus on the race set-up of our car. We found a good set-up, so we’re confident for the race. It’s always good to start into a 24-hour race with a car that you can handle really well.”

Romain Dumas (Audi R18 ultra #3): “The good work we’ve been doing for the past two days continued through to the end of qualifying. We did a lot of additional work on the set-up. Our Audi R18 ultra is really good now. We hadn’t expected to be so close to the best time, so in that respect the front row is a really nice result for us. Now we’re starting into the race from the far front. That’s a good sign.”

Loïc Duval (Audi R18 ultra #3): “This was a good qualifying session. We’re pleased and feel well prepared for the race. Obviously, we’d have liked to have clinched the fastest time but the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is simply a bit better here at Le Mans. Considering this, the best time for car number ‘1’ is also well deserved because they’ve been fast since the test day. For us, it’s good to start in second place. We’ve achieved good results over the distance as well.”

Marc Gené (Audi R18 ultra #3): “I’m very pleased. We did a good job and invested a lot of energy in preparing for the race. Loïc (Duval) concentrated on qualifying and drove a good lap. That makes me feel optimistic about the race. Second place is better than I’d expected. The race will be long and hard. Our work was good and the car is handling superbly.”

Dindo Capello (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “Congratulations to André (Lotterer), who gave the Audi R18 e-tron quattro the second best time after Allan (McNish) had managed to do so at Spa. That was a positive conclusion. We tested tyres on the first trial in order to be prepared for the race and to get a clear picture of the tire choice. At the beginning of the last session Tom (Kristensen) was stuck in traffic on his best lap. Afterwards we just worked on setting up the car for the race and gained a good impression.”

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “It was a good day for us. We focussed on a good set-up for the race. Our Audi worked well and in my stint after 10pm, the lap times were good and competitive on new tyres. We face good, stiff competition but are looking forward to a great race. Of course well done to Andre on a perfect ‘pole’.”

Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “First of all, ‘well done’ to André (Lotterer) and his guys, that was a brilliant performance. For us, the day was much better than yesterday – on the one hand no doubt because of the better track conditions but especially because we had worked out a good set-up for the race. The competition is very close and we’re right in the middle. It looks like we’ll be seeing a thrilling race.”

Marco Bonanomi (Audi R18 ultra #4): “That was a nice qualifying session although it actually wasn’t qualifying for us in the real sense. On both days we were trying to work for the race and drove several stints straight to see how the tyres were working. So, considering this, our time is okay even though it’s a bit slower than that of the other cars. But the grid position isn’t so important at Le Mans. We found a good rhythm and are ready for the race.”

Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 ultra #4): “Of course I know that the grid position isn’t important for a 24-hour race but I’m still disappointed about our sixth place. We had the potential for a position on the two front rows but never had a completely free lap – but that’s the way things are at Le Mans. We know that we’ve got a good car for Saturday and Sunday. And that makes us optimistic.”

Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R18 ultra #4): “Congratulations to the squad with car number one that’s back on pole again – that was a strong performance. I’m pleased with our qualifying session. We drove a lot, had no difficulties and are all happy with the set-up of the car. I’m optimistic for the race because Oliver (Jarvis), Marco (Bonanomi) and I harmonize very well and have got the same feel for the car. That’s why the starting base is secondary for us for now.”

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Toyota Team President: “I am really proud of the whole team; Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, Motor Sport Division in Higashifuji and the Toyota Motor Corporation Hybrid Department. Everyone has worked so hard to get here and at times it has been challenging; but we really pushed to be here and it was certainly worth the effort. Two cars in the top five is a real achievement for this team’s first race, on only our third day on track at Le Mans. Now we can’t wait for the race, when we expect a tough but exciting challenge. Congratulations to Audi for a hard-fought pole position which highlights how difficult they will be to beat in the race.”

Kazuki Nakajima (Toyota TS030 HYBRID #7): “It was a fantastic experience for me to have the chance to attack with the new tyres. I was a good feeling and I really enjoyed it, apart from the traffic. But we knew the traffic would be less at the end because the others started to pit. Our strategy was really good; I only had one car to deal with in the last sector and I only lost a little time. It’s great to see Anthony getting into the top three, as well as having both TS030 HYBRIDs in the top six for our very first race. I think we can have a good race tomorrow and hopefully we can finish it with no problems. Big thanks to the team because we got over some difficult times to get here. We had a bit of problem in between the qualifying sessions but we got back on the track and could compete hard with Audi. It was a big, big team effort.”

Anthony Davidson (Toyota TS030 HYBRID #8): “After this qualifying session, I feel that we almost got everything possible from the car. I did a good lap and I think we can be happy with what we achieved. I am still very new at the wheel of the TS030 HYBRID and I am going faster and faster; the car is nicely balanced and I feel comfortable with it. I am really looking forward to the race, to see what we can do; I hope we will have a reliable car. I think we surprised some people as we are so close to pole position and I actually still think that we have a stronger race car than a qualifying car. Le Mans is very a tough race but if we have no problems, if all is going well, we can be on the podium.”

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