Australasians deliver strong showing in Le Mans qualifying
As Le Mans prepares for the showcase drivers parade of champions through the centre of the city, the Australasian contingent have qualified in prominent positions for the prestigious 24 Hour race this weekend.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s report from final qualifying at La Sarthe.
David Brabham finished the final Thursday night qualifying session 11th quickest behind the all-conquering and history making Audi hybrids.
But the biggest surprise came from Queenslander John Martin who managed to put the Alan Docking Racing ORECA Nissan on pole in the massively competitive LMP2 class by snaring the 14th fastest time outright.
Martin had been looking forward to his debut at the La Sarthe circuit after a promising podium run in the 6 hours of Spa last month, but never in his wildest dreams did he expect to be snapping at the rear wings of the LMP1s.
There was no holding back Martin’s emotion on his Facebook page: “Pole at Le Mans baby. Giddy up.”
Five places further back on the grid sits New Zealander Brendon Hartley who is driving with the Murphy ORECA Nissan LMP2 squad.
Hartley, a one-time Red Bull F1 test driver, had a new helmet designed for Le Mans and is still coming back down to earth following the traditional night qualifying session.
The New Zealand racer was being groomed for a spot in Red Bull’s second grand prix team, Toro Rosso, but with his F1 dream on hold he is thrilled at his chance to shine on the biggest sports car stage of them all.
Aussie Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo tweeted Hartley following qualifying “Go get ‘em buddy. Solid day yesterday ….you need another co driver? All the best dude!”
Regular V8 Supercar co-driver Allan Simonsen will start 43rd fastest of the 56 qualifiers in the Aston Martin while 2011 Gold Coast V8 debutant Marino Franchitti, led the fascinating but experimental DeltaWing for Highcroft Racing into 29th position.
For Australian viewers, the Le Mans 24 Hour will be streaming live on Network Ten’s website tensport.com.au. The streaming starts 10.30pm on Saturday, June 16.