24 Hours of Le Mans 2009 – Free Practice Report
The Wednesday on Le Mans will be remembered as a very wet day. All day long it rained, up until about an hour and a half before the free practice session. Unfortunately for the teams the rain returned to Le Mans after one hour of practice and dry weather set-ups were never an option.
The Peugeots were out right from the word go and it wasn’t a surprise that Pedro Lamy in the #7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP was the first driver to go below 4:00. Boullion in the Pescarolo Peugeot was close.
As the time went on the track got quicker and quicker with both Peugeot and Audi lapping under four minutes. Just over half an hour into the session the diesel cars formed the top 8. In LMP2 the Porsche RS Spyders took control.
Zytek didn’t have a great start of the actual racing weekend when the Barazi car stopped on the track and the G.A.C. Racing Team getting a delayed start with a clutch failure on their first attempt to get out of the box.
Unfortunately after just one hour of racing around the Circuit de la Sarthe the rain returned as it started to drizzle at Arnage. At that moment Boullion had managed to set the fastest time in the Peugeot 908.
Times kept being improved with Peugeot and Audi battling for every tenth of a second. At Indianapolis Dutchman Christijan Albers pushed too hard and ended up in the gravel trap. He was pulled out and rejoined the session, but not before littering the straight between Indianapolis and Arnage with gravel all over the track.
Even though the rain intensified the lap times kept going down and just before the track started to get wetter again it was McNish in the #1 Audi R15 TDI who posted a lap time of 3:30.708. When Jean de Pourtales smashed his Lola into the wall at the Dunlop curve he ripped of some rear bodywork and suspension.
In GT2 Snoras Spyker Squadron was surprisingly quick, just before the track started to get worse from the rain and posted the third fastest lap time. After two hours The #1 Audi was leading, with the #2 in second place and the #9 Peugeot in third.
As the rain continued lap times went up again and teams started to work on different things than race set-up, this went on for almost the entire hour. David Brabham suffered a problem towards the midway point in his Peugeot and limped back to the pit where a damaged clutch was found as the cause of the problems
With rain falling all around the track the next couple of hours were less interesting with only drivers coming in after spins and mishaps on board. The Racing Box Lola had its door open. G.A.C. Racing Team and JLOC suffered problems with their car and but it was good, the JLOC Lamborghini is not one of the race win contenders.
Into the final hour the leaderboard remained unchanged due to the weather conditions.
Audi and Peugeot kept running, with both Audi’s doing their laps as if it were an endurance racing. Peugeot did even worse. Completing 79 laps the French squad lapped 1079 km today.
At midnight the session came to an end with an Audi 1-2 in LMP1, Porsche taking first (Essex) and second (Team Goh) in LMP2.
In GT1 Corvette Racing hardly faced any opposition. With the Lamborghini gone and the Alphand cars in the box for changes to an incorrect installed roll cage.
Team Felbermayr Proton continued in its winning mood by taking first place in GT2.
Best of the non-diesel cars was the #16 Pescarolo, despite a crash towards the end by Barbosa. A damaged left side of the Pescarolo Judd was the result. Aston Martin Racing #008 took eight place, ahead of the #007.