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ALMS And Grand-Am Competitors Take On Le Mans

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The largest ever representation of American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am Road Racing drivers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans began their challenge on the event in the opening qualifying session of the week.

However, the evening session was disrupted due to an early-session accident causing a red flag and eventually a premature stoppage, meaning many drivers could not show their hand around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The fastest lap in free practice belonged to Loic Duval in the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, who partners Allan McNish and Le Mans legend, Tom Kristensen. Duval also set the fastest time of all 56 entries in the qualifying with a time of 3:22.349. The session was shortened by 16 minutes after an early red flag period due to a crash for Pierre Thiriet‘s LMP2 entry on the Mulsanne Straight, resulting in extensive barrier repairs.

The best ALMS/Grand-Am time came from the #12 Rebellion Racing Toyota/Lola of ALMS regulars Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani, who are joined by Nicolas Prost. A time of 3:30.841 meant that the #12 car ended the session in fifth.

The only all-American line-up in the 2013 race, Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long and Joe Foster, qualified seventh in GTEAm class, 45th overall.

The large entry of ALMS and Grand-Am drivers underscores the growing interest in the merger of the two entities, with both series becoming the United SportsCar Racing Series in 2014. The two series founders, Don Panoz and Jim France, were joined at a press conference by ACO President, Pierre Fillon on Thursday, where France was presented with the French Flag that he will wave to signal the start of the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Based in Mid-Wales, James joined TCF at the start of the 2013 season, covering a range of disciplines, predominantly Motorcycle Road Racing and NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @JCCharman
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