Duval, Audi Lead Shortened Le Mans Practice


LE MANS, France — A crash caused Wednesday night’s practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans to be shortened and few teams were able to display speed.

Wednesday offered the first day for practice and qualifying for the endurance classic, set for a 9 a.m. ET start on Saturday. There will be two more qualifying sessions Thursday.

The fastest practice lap Wednesday belonged to Loic Duval, co-driver of the No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Audi Sport Team Joest. Duval is part of a powerhouse trio of LMP1 pilots rounded out by record-setting eight-time Le Mans champion Tom Kristensen and two-time champion Allan McNish. Duval’s best lap: 3 minutes, 25.415 seconds (148.784 mph/238.9 kph) on the 8.469-mile (13.629 kilometers) course.

Qualifying was more of the same at the top with Duval leading the field of 56. The two-hour evening session was red-flagged early and then shortened by 16 minutes because of a Mulsanne Straight crash by Pierre Thiriet in an LMP2 entry, which resulted in an extensive barrier repair. Duval’s provisional pole lap: 3:22.349 (150.68 mph/242.4 kph).