1000 KM of Spa: Audi on pole, Peugeot gambles wrong

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Timo Bernhard secured pole position for the 1000 KM of Spa-Francorchamps for Audi Sport Team Joest in a dramatic qualifying session on the Spa circuit.

All three Audi R18 TDI cars went out on track early in the session, with Peugeot opting to stay in their pit boxes. Bernhard lapped the Spa circuit in 2:01.502, almost three tenths of a second quicker than Andre Lotterer. Tom Kristensen was another three tenths slower in third.

Shortly after the Peugeots had gone out and completed their first time lap, with Gené in 13th, Pagenaud in 18th place and Sarrazin without a time yet, OAK Racing’s Mathieu Lahaye crashed heavily. The OAK Racing Pescarolo slammed into the barrier on the straight towards the Pouhon corner. A severely damaged OAK Pescarolo, a huge hole in the barrier and lots of debris on the track made it impossible to continue. The session was red flagged and was not restarted.

© Planetlemans – Brecht Decancq

As a result of the stoppage Nicolas Lapierre secured fourth for ORECA, just ahead of the Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota of Nicolas Prost.

In LMP2 the Oreca cars were first, second and third in the first couple of minutes, but then Danny Watts took the Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01d around the track and went just 0.124s quicker than the TDS Racing Oreca 03 Nissan. Signatech Nissan was third quickest.

In the GTE classes it was AF Corse’s Jaime Melo who took pole position. The Brazilian was the first of three Ferrari drivers in the standings. His 2:20.743 was just under two tenths quicker than JMW Motorsport’s Rob Bell and AF Corse’s Giancarlo Fisichella.

© Planetlemans – Brecht Decancq

Best of the rest was the Marc Lieb driven Team Felbermayr Proton Porsche, with Augusto Farfus’ BMW in fifth. Andy Priaulx was trying to break into the top five, but a spin at the Bus Stop chicane on his last lap ruined his chances. That was after a bad start when the pit limiter was still activated as the BMW got out onto the track.

In GTE AM it was IMSA Performance Matmut’s Nicolas Armindo who took the pole position, while Neil Garner Motorsport’s Phil Keen took the Formula Le Mans pole position.

Mathieu Lahaye was taken to the hospital in Verviers for precautionary checks. He was awake and alert, shocked and complaining of back pains. This is good news given the impact and the state of the car.

14 Comments on 1000 KM of Spa: Audi on pole, Peugeot gambles wrong

  1. Congratulations to Audi, too bad for the works peugeots…
    It also seems that the HPD Arx01-d is a bit faster around Spa, compared to Paul Ricard: does this have to do with the better high downforce lay-out of that car coupled to the nature of this track?

    Anyway, I think it’s going to be a great race!

  2. Another classic example of how ACO favors Audi. They didn’t restart the session so that the Peugeots would be split up and have bad starting spots.

  3. A broken barrier pretty much means that the track is un-raceable until it is repaired. It has nothing to do with Audi.

  4. @Dylan – Are you serious? That’s total rubbish and probably the funniest thing I have ever read on these pages…

  5. If the ACO favours anyone, it’s Peugeot. The session wasn’t restarted because the barrier repairs were to take at least an hour, with the majority of the session already done, calling it there was the obvious thing to do.

    Peugeot’s qualifying result is their own fault for not getting some banker laps in early on in the session. Audi have raced in America enough to know that that is the only strategy to employ when you have 20 mins to qualify on a challenging and crowded circuit. Famin’s comments about having to wait for other cars to pass through before they could leave the pit lane were nonsense, they should’ve just parked the cars at the pit lane exit in the minutes leading up to the lights going green, like everyone else…

  6. I hope, for the sake of the GTE Am drivers that Peugeot decide to start from the pit lane and not the back of the grid (because they’ll be changing their tyres after having driven through the debris).

  7. @Paul
    Not sure what you mean by that “because they’ll be changing their tyres after having driven through the debris).” But by starting from the pitlane, der still gonna hav 2 get past the GTE Am cars, same with the crashed rebellion, if they can get it running again that is…

  8. @SchellZ – Apologies, I’ll explain…

    The Peugeots were out when the red flag was given, so they had to wind their way through the crashed OAK Pescarolo’s wreckage. So, to avoid using tyres that may have picked up slow punctures or damage from the debris, Peugeot will have to change them. However, the rules state that you must start the race on the tyres you qualified on, as Peugeot are not doing this, they’ll get a penalty and thus have to start from the pit lane or the back of the grid. :-)

  9. @Dylan – Classic thank you, im saving that one!

    Good job done Audi! Banker laps are a absolute must! The top F1 teams got caught out last year and now Peugeots. No fault other than their own.

  10. Ah, understood. Can anyone find a good video stream, I tries Peugeot sport’s but way too laggy here in Australia, so I’m just listening to Radio Le Mans at the moment.

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