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The hybrid-diesel Audi sportscar of Allan McNish set the outright fastest time in a one-day official test at Le Mans today (9 June) to head an impressive Audi 1-2-3 ahead of this year’s 24 Hour race.

The Scotsman’s French co-driver Loïc Duval set the fastest time in the eight-hour test at the wheel of their Audi R18 e-tron quattro that will also be shared by record eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen (DK).

The Frenchman set a personal fastest time of 3min 22.583secs, an average speed of 150.5mph around the 8.47-mile track, on his final lap at the end of the session on new tyres and with low fuel. Last year’s pole-position was 3:23.787 (André Lotterer, Audi) and race fastest lap 3:24.189 (Loïc Duval).

Dumfries-born McNish commented: “With the weather being so bad for pretty much the majority of the day, we ultimately had a full day’s testing condensed in to the last 90mins – and even then the circuit was still damp in places.

“The most positive element from our day was that Tom, Loïc and myself all felt very similar balance characteristics in the car and we are all basically happy with the set-up.  For us going into the race week in the dry we feel comfortable with what we have got.”

Sixty-one cars contested the test, the only opportunity competitors get to drive on the legendary circuit in advance of official practice next week (Wednesday 19 June).

Duval having set the outright fastest time (3:46.277) in the wet and cool four-hour morning session after 2½hrs, slid off at high-speed on his very next lap, causing suspension, steering and significant bodywork damage.

Repairs were duly made allowing the McNish/Kristensen/Duval Audi to return to action for the final three-hours of the afternoon session which saw the track gradually dry with cars switching to slicks in the final 75mins.

“Our new 2013-spec car in Le Mans aero specification is a good improvement, Audi’s  aerodynamics guys have done a very good job and have given us good downforce but also good efficiency. The lap times are not really that relevant– the important thing being the feeling the three of us have for driving our car fast in all conditions.”

Three “optimized” hybrid-diesel Audi R18 sportscars contest the Le Mans race. Oliver Jarvis (GB)/Marc Gené (SP)/Lucas di Grassi (BR) plus 2011 & ’12 Le Mans winners, Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer (F) set the second (3:25.358) and third (3:25.647) fastest times respectively.

Jarvis, from Burwell near Newmarket, commented: “All of my running was done in the wet but whenever I was on track, I was competitive. The balance of the car was good and I was very happy with the performance especially in the morning’s difficult conditions.

“Unfortunately I didn’t get to drive in the dry at the end of the day but Lucas did the last hour of the session and the times were very competitive so I think we can return in a week or so pretty happy.”

Practice and qualifying is staged over 19-20 June with the 81st Le Mans 24 Hours beginning at 2pm (BST) on Saturday (22 June).

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