Gene aims to continue Audi dominance at Le Mans

Marc Gene pictured in action at Le Mans on Wednesday in an Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Photo by James Beckett

Marc Gene pictured in action at Le Mans on Wednesday in an Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Photo by James Beckett

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Former Buckingham University student Marc Gene is hoping Audi’s success at Le Mans continues this weekend when the famous 24-hour race takes place in France, writes James Beckett.

Track action ahead of the big race started at the Circuit de la Sarthe on Wednesday, with 55 competitors taking to the track for a four-hour free practice session and a two-hour official qualifying session.

Driving the number 3 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, Gene ended Wednesday’s track action second fastest.

He said: “Everything is going to plan at the moment. The team are working very hard to maintain the winning record at Le Mans and are confident that one of the three R18 e-tron quattro cars can win. I really hope it will be my car!”

Wednesday dawned with torrential rain falling over the track that measures over eight miles, but the skies had cleared by the time the cars took to the circuit.

Gene added: “Weather plays such an important part of this race. The circuit is so long you can sometimes find it wet on one side of the track and dry on the other. I am hoping for a dry race as driving a closed prototype is very difficult in the rain, especially in the dark.”

Brackley’s Anthony Davidson’s plans for a smooth start to race week were hindered on Wednesday night, when his Toyota ground to a halt in the darkness during official qualifying.

The car was recovered at the end of the session and taken to parc ferme, where the Toyota team were able to recover it and return it to the pit garage for repairs ahead of Thursday’s running.

Meanwhile, Whittlebury’s Strakka Racing, with Thornborough’s Danny Watts leading the attack, went through numerous system set-ups during Wednesday’s action. Watts said: “I am happy with the car – it seems to be in good shape and I hope we can have a solid race.

“I am pretty sure that both Jonny (Kane) and myself will have long stints during the race so I hope it will be dry as racing in the rain at high speed is very tiring.”

Silverstone’s G Drive/Delta-ADR performed well once track action started, as did fellow Silverstone squad, HVM Status GP.

The HVM Status car, like the Delta-ADR machines, contests the LMP2 class – the largest category of the race. Twenty-one cars fill this section, including the Brackley-based Murphy Prototypes Oreca.

The Irish green car is driven by former Red Bull junior driver Brendon Hartley, American Mark Patterson, and Brackley resident Karun Chandkok.

Tomorrow’s race day Timetable: 09:00-09:45 – Warm Up; 15:00 – Start of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race

Advertiser & Review region teams and drivers in the 2013 Le Mans 24-Hour Race:

3. Marc Gene/Lucas di Grassi/Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro)

8. Anthony Davidson/Sebastien Buemi/Stephane Sarrazin (Toyota TS030)

21. Danny Watts/Nick Leventis/Jonny Kane (HPD-Honda)

25. Tor Graves/Shinji Nakano/Archie Hamilton (Oreca 03-Nissan)

26. Mike Conway/Roman Rusinov/John Martin (Oreca 03-Nissan)

30. Johnny Mowlem/Tony Burgess/Jonathan Hirschi (Lola B12/80 Coupe)

48. Brendon Hartley/Mark Patterson/Karun Chandhok (Oreca 03-Nissan)