Le Mans 24 Hour EWC: BMW 99 on Pole

2011 Endurance World Championship

The current Endurance World Championship points leader got down to business on Thursday, the BMW Motorrad France 99 team leading the practice sessions for the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend, Round four of five.

And the Michelin-equipped BMW S1000RR team continued this domination on Friday, taking the top qualifying spot for Saturday’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

The team, which consists of Erwan Nigon, Sebastien Gimbert and Damian Cudlin, posted a 1:37.545. The time was almost a second faster than the team’s Thursday practice time (1:38.455).

The BMW France 99 team’s time was 0.379 ahead of another team that uses Michelin tires, the Monster Yamaha YART team of Igor Jerman, Steve Martin and Loris Baz, the latter the man who piloted the YZF-R1 to a 1:37.514 to take second on the grid.

Taking the third spot on the grid is the SRC Kawasaki team (Pirelli) of Julien da Costa, Gregory Leblanc and Olivier Four. The Kawasaki team was just ahead of the Yamaha Racing France GMT 94 Ipone (Michelin) of David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive. The Yamaha Racing France team was the last to post within a second of BMW France.

The team that trails BMW Motorrad France 99 by just six points heading into the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be fifth on the grid, posting a quickest time 1.622 behind BMW France – the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Dunlop) of Anthony Delhalle, Daisaku Sakai and Baptiste Guittet.

As for the Honda TT Legends team that consists of 17-time Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness, Cameron Donald and Keith Armor, it qualified 10th, 2.738 seconds behind BMW France.

The FIM reports that BMW is also leading the Superstock class. The team Van Zon Boenig Motorsportschool Penz13 RT took the best this morning ahead of the Junior Team Suzuki LMS and the Team Motor Events Bodyguard AMT, although these two last teams suffered some crashes this morning. Highly disputed, this second qualifying session has been quite dramatic, with many riders running out of the track and several teams experiencing some engine breakdowns, leading the session to be interrupted for some time.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is set to begin 3 p.m. Saturday.