Stephane Sarrazin once again emerged as the man to beat on the second day of qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours, but it proved to be his stunning lap-time from the opening session on Wednesday that was good enough to secure pole position for the 76th edition of the famous endurance event.

Sarrazin posted a time of 3m 20.566s during the first session of the day to secure the fastest Thursday lap, but it the time he set early on Wednesday that remained untouchable and ensured the 908 HDi took pole for the second year in a row on home soil.

The sister #7 car was second quickest on the day, but remained third overall after also failing to improve its lap-time with the #9 car splitting them on the grid - despite its accident in Thursday's opening session after Ricardo Zonta went off exiting the Porsche curves after contact from another car.

Audi was at least able to get amongst the Peugeot's on the day, with Allan McNish producing the best time for the #2 R10 TDi during Thursday's opening session. Third fastest on the day, the lap secured fourth place for the first of the Audi's overall, just ahead of the car of 'young guns' Alex Premat, Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller, which was amongst the cars not to improve its quickest time on the second day of qualifying.

Arguably one of the biggest stories of the second day of qualifying came with the car that will line up sixth on the grid however, after the Charouz Racing Systems Lola Aston Martin showed that a petrol-powered LMP1 car is capable of taking the challenge to the diesel machines.

Having suffered problems on Wednesday that left the car down in 15th place overnight, the closed coupe machine climbed up the order into the top ten in the third qualifying session, before Stefan Mucke really put the pressure on in the final session to try and secure petrol bragging rights. A lap of 3m 27.264s early in the session was then followed by one some two seconds quicker to put the Lola into an impressive sixth place overall - and ahead of the #1 Audi. Despite Marco Werner going out late on to put in the car's quickest time, it feel just a tenth of a second short of ensuring a diesel lock-out of the top six places and gave the Czech Charouz squad reason to cheer ahead of the race.

Mucke's time was also comfortably quicker than the next fastest petrol car, which proved to be the impressive Dome S102 and its all-Japanese driver line-up. Prior to Mucke's quickest lap it looked like the Dome could secure petrol honours but the team was unable to respond when the car stopped on the track during the final session. Despite that, the Dome starts from eighth place ahead of the repaired #16 Pescarolo and the #5 ORECA-Matmut entry, which managed to return to the track for the final two hours after Laurent Groppi crashed into the barriers early in Thursday's opening session.

The second Pescarolo will start from eleventh ahead of the Charouz-entered Cytosport Lola-Judd and the second of the ORECA-Matmut entries. Elsewhere in LMP1, the Epsilon Euskadi entry of Stefan Johansson, Jean-Marc Gounon and Shinji Nakano will start from a highly impressive 15th place - despite the fact the car wasn't even entered into the race until late on Tuesday evening - two places ahead of the sister car, which is followed by the Rollcentre Racing Pescarolo.

The Creation AIM - provided it can be fully repaired after Stuart Hall's accident - lines up 21st ahead of the Terramos Courage and the Chamberlain Synergy Lola, while the Saulnier Racing Pescarolo, the Autocon Creation and the Tokai University YGK Courage complete the LMP1 field.

LMP2 proved to be a Porsche celebration as van Merksteijn Motorsport and Team Essex ensured that the Porsche RS Spyder will start from first and second in class for its debut at La Sarthe.

The Team Essex entered car had held pole overnight thanks to Sascha Maassen's lap on Wednesday evening, but Jos Verstappen bettered that time in the opening session of Thursday before going even quicker in the fourth and final session. His time of 3m 32.301s was enough to secure pole by more than a second from the Team Essex machine, which failed to better its time on the day- when its quickest lap was some six seconds slower than that managed by former F1 ace Verstappen.

The Barazi-Epsilon Zytek also didn't improve its time on day two of qualifying but maintained its slender advantage over the Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola, which endured a frustrating day after a trip off track and will start from fourth in class. Embassy Racing's debuting WF01-Zytek was another car relying on its Wednesday performance to secure its grid position and will start from a highly respectable fifth in class ahead of the RML MG-Lola, which rebounded from an accident on Wednesday to jump up the order in the opening session on Thursday.

The Quifel-ASM Lola starts seventh in class ahead of the Saulnier Pescarolo - which is just behind its 'big brother' on the overall grid. The Trading Performance Zytek and Bruichladdich Radical both improved their times in the final session to take eight and ninth in class, while the Kruse Schiller Lola brings up the rear of the class as it continues to undergo repairs following Hidecki Noda's huge shunt on Wednesday night.

The anticipated Corvette versus Aston Martin battle for pole position in GT1 finally exploded into life on Thursday evening, but even then, Larbre Competition was able to put a spanner firmly in the works with its Saleen.

In an action-packed start to the final session, Oliver Gavin jumped into class pole in the #64 Corvette but was then demoted back into second place thanks to a stellar lap from Jan Magnussen in the sister car - which was good enough to put him just outside the top 30 overall.

Antonio Garcia in the #009 Aston Martin and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the #007 then responded with their fastest laps of the week to close onto the rear of the Corvettes but it was Christophe Bouchut in the Saleen that ended up splitting the two C6.Rs to secure second.

The IPB Spartak Lamborghini starts from sixth in class ahead of the first of the Luc Alphand Corvettes - which stopped on track in the final session - and the Team Modena Aston Martin, which rebounded from losing a wheel in Thursday's first session to post the eighth quickest GT1 time The Vitaphone Aston Martin and the second Alphand Corvette complete the GT1 field.

The battle for the GT2 pole went right to Thursday night when the top three cars all dipped below the four minute mark to demote overnight pole-sitters Flying Lizard Motorsports down to fourth.

Patrick Long produced a best time of 3m 58.152s to take top sport for the IMSA Performance tea and he was nearly a second clear of the similar Porsche 997 GT3 RSR of Felbermayr-Proton's Wolf Henzler. Le Mans Series GT2 champion Rob Bell upheld Ferrari honours by placing the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari in third place.

Behind the Flying Lizard Porsche in fourth, the Farnbacher Racing Ferrari jumped up to fifth in class ahead of the similar cars of Risi Competizione, BMS Scuderia Italia and JMB.

The first of the Spykers starts ninth in class ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari and the Risi/Krohn entry, with the GT2 class - and the 55 car field as a whole - being completed by the Speedy Racing Team Spyker.

For overall times, CLICK HERE.

For times by class, CLICK HERE.

 

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