After nine hours of testing in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Russian Age Racing Ferrari 550 ended up a surprising third fastest in class and the fastest of the four Care Racing supported Ferrari 550s entered in the GT1 category for the French classic.

Christophe Bouchut set a best time of 3min 53.635secs to push the blue 550 in between the pace-setting Aston Martins and the pre-race favourite Corvette C6.Rs, a result which pleased team manager Rob Schirle greatly.

"We had a very good day," the former driver, now Cirtek boss, commented, "Christophe got held up by a Porsche in part of his quickest lap, so it could have been even better, but it was 1.5 seconds quicker than he has ever been round here in a GT1 car, so that was pleasing, even with 35kg of ballast. Nikolay [Fomenko] and Alexey [Vasiliev] both drove well and we had no problems at all, so I'm now really looking forward to the race."

Reigning LMES GTS champions Larbre Competition finished the day in fifth place in GT1, with a time good enough to split the two Corvettes. The team's best time was set by Vincent Vosse, who emerged very satisfied with his first laps behind the wheel of a Ferrari 550.

"My last time here at Le Mans with [Larbre boss] Jack [Leconte] was in 2002, so it was nice to be back - and in a Ferrari again," the Belgian commented, "I drove a Ferrari last year at the Spa 24 Hours and in a few rounds of the FIA GT Championship, but it was a 575.

"We didn't push for a time today, but the car was quick and easy to drive. We didn't use any qualifying tyres, or even soft race tyres - we used medium only - but I was impressed with the grip and driveability."

BMS Scuderia Italia, returning to Le Mans for the first time since 1997, worked through a steady programme which included the compulsory minimum ten laps for each rookie driver, evaluation of Pirelli tyres and different aerodynamic packages. The team was particularly pleased with the progress made and talent shown by 20-year old Matteo Malucelli, who set the fastest time of the three drivers in car #52 on his debut at Le Mans. Christian Pescatori, who is the only BMS driver to have driven the
French 24-hour race with the Italian team, was the quickest driver in car #51.

Malucelli's car had its programme slightly held up during the afternoon session after an incident with another car and left the Ferrari needing repairs to the door and rear quarter area.

"I think that I can improve, but it is my first time here so I have to be patient," the Italian admitted, "It only took me about ten laps before I could do a good time, so I am confident that I can improve on that in qualifying for the race."