The ORECA Peugeot 908 set the fastest time of the opening free practice session for this weekend's Le Mans Series opener at Paul Ricard.
The customer diesel car of Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre and on-loan factory Peugeot pilot Stephane Sarrazin set a benchmark time a quarter of a second quicker than the best set by the works Audi R15 of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish.
ORECA's own car was third quickest in the hands of Soheil Ayari, Didier Andre and Loic Duval, just half a second slower than the Peugeot. The leading Rebellion Racing Lola was just another tenth farther back, with Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani sharing driving duties. The rest of the LMP1 class, including the customer-run Signature Aston Martin and Beechdean Mansell Ginetta were more than a second off the leading pace.
Strakka Racing has stepped down to the LMP2 class this year and topped the first session with its HPD (formerly Acura), driven by Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis. They were nearly a second faster than the second in class Quifel Ginetta or Miguel Amaral, Olivier Pla and Warren Hughes.
The Larbre Competition Saleen is the only GT1 car racing at Paul Ricard this weekend, and was only half a tenth quicker than the fastest GT2 car, which was the CRS Ferrari 430 of Andrew Kirkaldy and Tim Mullen.
A full second slower than them in second place was the AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and Jaime Melo. Richard Westbrook and Marco Holzer were an additional half a second back, and third in class, in the first of the Porsches.
Former grand prix drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi finished their first LMS session seventh in class, in the AF Corse Ferrari they share with Toni Vilander.
The Schnitzer-run BMW was slowest of the GT2 cars in its first European session, with Jorg Muller and Dirk Werner driving, while the Oak Racing Pescarolo of Mathieu Lahaye and Jacques Nicolet failed to set a time.
Pos Drivers Class/Team/Car Time Gap Laps
1. Panis/Lapierre/Sarrazin P1 ORECA Peugeot 1m44.154s 28
2. Capello/Kristensen/McNish P1 Audi 1m44.397s +0.243 19
3. Ayari/Andre/Duval P1 ORECA 1m44.660s +0.506 21
4. Prost/Jani P1 Rebellion Lola 1m44.800s +0.646 25
5. Belicchi/Boullion/Smith P1 Rebellion Lola 1m45.568s +1.414 22
6. Fernandez/Primat/Mucke P1 Aston Martin 1m46.009s +1.855 22
7. Ragues/Mailleux/Ickx P1 Signature Aston 1m47.107s +2.953 27
8. Leventis/Watts/Kane P2 Strakka HPD 1m48.160s +4.006 24
9. Mansell/Mansell/Mansell P1 Beechdean Ginetta 1m48.272s +4.118 11
10. Amaral/Pla/Hughes P2 Quifel Ginetta 1m49.065s +4.911 20
11. Erdos/Newton/Wallace P2 RML Lola 1m49.551s +5.397 21
12. Geri/Piccini/Piccini P2 Racing Box Lola 1m50.221s +6.067 21
13. Hein/Moreau P2 Oak Pescarolo 1m50.924s +6.770 21
14. Ojjeh/Greaves/Ebbesvik P2 Bruich. Ginetta 1m50.943s +6.789 23
15. Salini/Salini/Gommendy P2 WR-Zytek 1m53.047s +8.893 24
16. Cioci/Perazzini/Ardizzone P2 Racing Box Lola 1m53.514s +9.360 23
17. Toulemonde/Zollinger/Zampatti LC Formula Le Mans 1m56.150s +11.996 25
18. Zacchia/Moro/Kaufmann LC Formula Le Mans 1m56.514s +12.360 27
19. Beche/Pillon/Capillaire LC Formula Le Mans 1m56.579s +12.425 25
20. Frey/Meichtry/Dueck P2 Race Perf. Radical 1m56.617s +12.463 21
21. Kraihamer/de Crem/Delhez LC Formula Le Mans 1m56.854s +12.700 23
22. Pourtales/Noda/Kennard P2 KSM Lola 1m56.938s +12.784 10
23. Stirling/Hines/Piscopo LC Formula Le Mans 1m58.539s +14.385 27
24. Schell/Metz/da Rocha P2 Pegasus Courage 1m58.671s +14.517 14
25. Gardel/Goueslard/Canal GT1 Larbre Saleen 1m58.955s +14.801 17
26. Kirkaldy/Mullen GT2 CRS Ferrari 1m58.979s +14.825 20
27. Barlesi/Cicognani/Chalandon LC Formula Le Mans 1m59.639s +15.485 25
28. Bruni/Melo GT2 AF Cornse Ferrari 1m59.971s +15.817 20
29. Kutemann/Basso/Hartshorne LC Formula Le Mans 2m00.095s +15.941 22
30. Holzer/Westbrook GT2 Prospeed Porsche 2m00.401s +16.247 16
31. Bell/Turner GT2 JMW Aston Martin 2m00.437s +16.283 23
32. Lieb/Lietz GT2 Felbermayr Porsche 2m00.468s +16.314 20
33. Farnbacher/Simonsen GT2 Farnbacher Ferrari 2m00.713s +16.559 26
34. Fisichella/Vilander/Alesi GT2 AF Corse Ferrari 2m00.757s +16.603 23
35. Ehret/Quaife/Kaffer GT2 CRS Ferrari 2m00.958s +16.804 21
36. Companc/Russo GT2 AF Corse Ferrari 2m01.159s +17.005 26
37. Narac/Pilet GT2 IMSA Porsche 2m01.422s +17.268 24
38. Dumbreck/Coronel/Bleekemolen GT2 Spyker 2m01.846s +17.692 23
39. Ragginger/Ried/Long GT2 Felbermayr Porsche 2m02.616s +18.462 21
40. Muller/Werner GT2 BMW 2m02.923s +18.769 29
41. Lahaye/Nicolet P2 Oak Pescarolo no time