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Page last updated at 07:12 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 08:12 UK

Peugeot beat Audi to Le Mans pole

The Peugeot of Stephane Sarrazin, Franck Montagny and Sebastien Bourdais
Peugeot are aiming to end Audi's remarkable run of success

Peugeot beat rivals Audi in the battle for pole position for this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race.

Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin set a best lap of three minutes, 22.888 seconds in the final minutes of Thursday's night-time qualifying session.

His Peugeot beat the Audi of Scotland's Allan McNish by 0.762secs.

Peugeot are aiming to stop a remarkable run of success in the classic French race by Audi, who have won Le Mans for eight of the last nine years.

McNish is targeting a second consecutive victory alongside team-mates Tom Kristensen of Denmark and and Italian Rinaldo Capello.

606: DEBATE
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Kristensen, meanwhile, is hoping to extend his record of victories in the historic race to nine - the next most successful driver is Belgium's Jacky Ickx, who won six times from 1969 to 1982.

Peugeot - who, like Audi, use a car with a turbo-diesel engine - are hoping it will be third time lucky in their attempts to beat Audi.

"It is a very close fight between us and Audi. Starting from pole is not essential but it makes things easier," Sarrazin said after taking his third successive pole at the La Sarthe circuit.

McNish said: "I'm delighted with our overall performance - pole position would have been nice, it was a nip-and-tuck battle with Sarrazin and fun to monitor on the timing screens in the pits at the end.

Allan McNish in the Audi at Le Mans
Peugeot have protested against the new Audi car, here driven by McNish

"But the reality was that we needed to concentrate on getting a good handling car for the race rather than battle it out for pole in the final two hours."

This year's running of the race has already been soured by a technical row that could mean the winner is not declared until July.

Le Mans organisers have rejected an objection raised by Peugeot against the legality of the new Audi car - a verdict against which the French team say they will appeal.

The Le Mans race starts at 1500 BST on Saturday.



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see also
Le Mans glory for Audi and McNish
15 Jun 08 |  Motorsport
Audi win to retain Le Mans crown
17 Jun 07 |  Motorsport


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