Duval Ends Day One Ahead Of 2012 Pace

Duval found a clear track as darkness gathered at Le Mans (Credit: Audi Motorsport)

Through – following the rain that blighted the test day earlier this week – the Audi Motorsport teams were concentrating on completing a test program on the opening of track running for the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans the day still ended with Loic Duval setting a fastest lap that eclipsed the best of 2012.

The six hours of track time on the opening day – four free practice, two in the dirst of the three qualifying sessions – were interrupted by a total of three red flags, the practice session also dampened by another rain shower.

“It’s nice that the race week has finally begun for good,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The weather conditions were better today than expected so that we were able to work well. Unfortunately, there were two longer interruptions because the track had to be repaired after accidents. That’s why we’re hoping to be able to make optimum use of tomorrow for checking off the final details we’ve got on our action list.”

Though working through tyre tests and perfecting a set-up for the race itself was the primary concern with eyes on the wet weather that has stalked the area the Frenchman was turned loose of a flying lap in the qualifying session.

“Our plan was to reel off a real qualifying lap on a dry track as well – you never know what the weather will be like tomorrow,” said Duval, who shares driving duties in the #2 with Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. “I caught a lap without traffic. But our car isn’t perfect yet simply because the track conditions aren’t so conclusive yet. At this point in time, the outcome after the final qualifying session on Thursday is still completely open.”

Duval’s best time (3:22.349) was nearly two seconds faster than Marc Gene, who supplied the lap that put the #3 R18 e-tron quattro second fastest. Andre Lotterer sealed the Audi 1-2-3 for the defending WEC champions – he, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer, in the #1 car.

Qualifying continues on Thursday (June 20) with four further hours schedule in two hour sessions, the first starting at 6pm UK time, the second at 9pm UK time.