Le Mans, 12 June – Ferrari made its mark on the first qualifying session for the Le Mans 24 Hours with the 458 Italia GT2 setting the fastest time in both categories in which it is entered. The session was held up by several red flag periods caused when cars went off and got stuck in the gravel, on what was a dirty and tricky track. In fact, the two hour session was stopped half an hour early when Fernando Rees crashed his Aston Martin, seriously damaging the barriers at the Porsche corner. Against this difficult background, the excellent lap set by “Gimmi” Bruni in the LMGTE Pro class takes on even more significance. On his fifth of ten laps in the AF Corse 51 car, he posted a 3.54.754 to beat Stefan Mucke in the Aston Martin by over three tenths and the Manthey Porsche by almost eight. Things went less well for AF Corse’s car 71, as it was no less than three and a half seconds down.
On top in the LMGTE Am category was the SMP Racing 458 Italia GT2 with a lap in 3.56.787, on its fourth of nine laps. Second was another Maranello machine, the AF Corse 61 car driven by Luis Perez Companc, Marco Cioci and Mirko Venturi, 132 thousandths behind.
Provisional overall pole went to Porsche number 20 crewed by Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley. Worth noting that Audi is rebuilding its number 1 car, destroyed in free practice and with Frenchman Loic Duval forbidden from taking part, his place is taken by Scuderia Ferrari test driver, Marc Gene. The second qualifying session starts at 19h00 today.