Three fan favourites had to battle back after going off the road in open testing for the Le Mans 24 Hours, with Champion Racing, the combined Orbit/BAM effort and the factory Morgan team all needing to patch up their cars during the eight-hour session.

Champion took full advantage of the test, with Marco Werner eventually setting the third fastest time of the day in its new Audi R8.

The newly-acquired #2 car underwent significant changes when the ACO revised the aerodynamics for last year's LMP900 and LMP675 cars, and ran at the test with an aerodynamic change narrowing the wing from two metres to 1.8 metres.

"We really learned a lot today, especially about the new aerodynamic package," commented technical director Brad Kettler, "My goal all along was to learn as much as possible, and we tried many different set-ups and at least nine different tyre compounds."

The learning process was rudely interrupted early in the morning session, when JJ Lehto was shoved off the course by another LMP900 car. The mishap required the crew to replace the car's gearbox - something that is not allowed during the 24 Hours in June.

"The car was good out of the box, especially since this is the first time we have driven it," Lehto reported, "You need to be lucky to get a good time, and I've never been lucky here at Le Mans, so I'm not discouraged. It's the same for me every year!"

Orbit Racing, running in partnership with BAM! this season, also overcame an early setback to post the second-fastest GT time.

Factory Porsche driver Marc Lieb was the quickest of the #87 team's three drivers, but was also responsible for hitting the guardrail at Tertre Rouge. The contact broke the car's steering rack, requiring a two-and-a-half hour stoppage to replace it.

"I was on my first flying lap, but the Corvette was passing me, so I was backing off," the German reported, "I was really driving easy through the turn, but I must have hit a bump or something on the exit. I was already under power and I just lost the car. I don't exactly know what happened - if I had been pushing it, I would understand it, but I wasn't pushing it at all. It's a bit goofy.

"However, after the problems we had this morning, the crew did a fantastic job fixing the car - it was unbelievably quick and we didn't lose much time. Mike [Rockenfeller] did a really good job setting up the car and, although it's still not perfect and we're struggling a bit, we made a big improvement from this morning."

"I don't think the car came back as well as it might have from the crash, so we have some work to do," team leader Leo Hindery admitted, "The car is running well, it's just the set-up is a little screwy from the crash. But we all had fun and Mike did well - it's clear he can pick this up real fast."

The Morgan Works entry also suffered a loss of track time, after race rookie Keith Ahlers went off the road.

Ahlers and fellow debutant Adam Sharpe both successfully completed the official test requirement for all new entrants to the 24 Hours before the incident, while third co-driver Neil Cunningham was able to complete some important set-up work on the British car.

"Overall, it was a good weekend and we achieved what we set out to do," Sharpe said, "My aim was simply to complete the necessary laps and then work with my team-mates to develop the car in the afternoon. The accident hampered us in that we were unable to do any additional running, but fortunately the team did a terrific job and we are all looking forward to the race in June.

"Given that we were aiming to complete the testing reliably, rather than at the fastest possible speed, we really haven't found the potential of the car here. There is a lot more to come, I think, but you need to match speed with reliability at every stage, so that's our major consideration at the moment."