Audi puts pressure on Peugeot

Thrilling qualifying at LMS finale at Silverstone Both Audi R10 TDI cars on second row Fastest times for McNish and Prémat in the rain

The two Audi R10 TDI cars of Audi Sport Team Joest will start to the finale of the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone (Great Britain) from the second row. Straight at the start of the 20-minute qualifying session Allan McNish set a time of 1m 31.020s (203.336 kph), which remained unrivalled for a long time. Just shortly before the end of the session the Audi driver was bumped to third place by the two Peugeot 908s to third on the grid. Alexandre Prémat in the "sister car" set the fourth-best time. The qualifying took place on a dry track after it had been raining in the second free practice on Friday afternoon and the third free practice on Saturday morning had been held in wet conditions as well. As at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, the changing conditions suited the Audi R10 TDI cars particularly well. On Friday afternoon Allan McNish was the quickest, on Saturday morning Alexandre Prémat. The two set the first two best times for Audi since the brand entered the Le Mans Series with a manufacturer’s commitment. Since there will be no warm-up at Silverstone on Sunday, Allan McNish used the last few minutes of qualifying for a few laps with full tanks to gather important information for the race that will start at 11:20 a.m. (local time), running over a distance of 1,000 kilometres and a maximum of six hours. Eurosport will broadcast the starting phase live from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. (German time) and air highlights of the race from 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.In the overall standings, Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller are ranking two points behind Peugeot drivers Marc Gené and Nicolas Minassian, thus still having sound chances for the title. Quotes after qualifying at Silverstone Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Qualifying really went well. We’ve never had such small gaps to our rivals in qualifying in the LMS. I think that’s a good base for tomorrow."Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "After Allan’s (McNish) great performance in qualifying I’m now looking forward to the race. We didn’t know how good our car would be because, like all the others, we didn’t have much time to work on the set-up due to the changing weather conditions. Allan is satisfied with the car. We just need to do some fine-tuning and then we’ll have a really good racing car. We’ve never come this close to Peugeot. That’s really promising for the race."Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It was difficult for everyone because we hardly got to drive in dry conditions. Our engineers did an outstanding job. I knew I’d only have two laps to get the maximum out of the tyres. I managed two pretty good laps. My third lap was even a bit faster until I hit traffic. But I think everyone had to struggle with that. We’re only six tenths behind Peugeot, so we’re closer to them than ever. I’m sure that makes them a bit nervous because our race pace is very good."Alexandre Prémat (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Qualifying was anything but easy because we weren’t able to drive in the dry before. We’re on the second row, that’s good. We’re still shooting for the championship. That means we’ve got to clinch as many points as possible. We’re looking forward to the race because the car’s got good balance. For the fast corners, we still need to fine-tune the front suspension a bit, after that everything should be right."Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI #2): "As expected, the weather has been mixed so far. The qualifying was dry, but we also had the chance to drive in rain and to prepare ourselves. I wouldn’t mind changing weather conditions in the race either. That would probably suit us well. The track is really great fun to drive and the car has been running perfectly so far."Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "We shouldn’t ignore the fact that Peugeot had a few problems in qualifying and that they ran out of time. Still, we’re not too far apart from them with both cars, which is good. In the wet practice sessions we saw that we’ve got an advantage in wet conditions. That’s why we’re sort of hoping for changing weather conditions tomorrow. That could make for a really interesting race. In any event, both cars are prepared very well." The starting grid at Silverstone1 Lamy/Sarrazin (Peugeot) 1m 30.359s 2 Gené/Minassian (Peugeot) 1m 30.370s 3 Capello/McNish (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 31.020s 4 Prémat/Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 32.122s 5 Mücke/Charouz (Lola-Aston Martin) 1m 33.229s6 Panis/Lapierre (Courage-Oreca-Judd) 1m 33.324s 7 Nakano/Valles (Epsilon-Euskadi-Judd) 1m 34.173s8 van Merksteijn/Verstappen (Porsche) 1m 34.212s9 Dumas/Boullion (Pescarolo-Judd) 1m 34.878s10 Simpson/Lewis (Creation-Aim) 1m 35.103s

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