Red flags have dominated the first qualifying day of the Le Mans 24 Hours, but the German engineers at Audi have managed to maintain a strong position.
With a number of incidents and crashes cutting the first qualifying session short, the car maker's head of Le Mans prototypes (LMP) has said it highlights the importance of building vehicles with safety as a priority.
Although Audi has managed to temporarily keep fifth and sixth grid positions, the company were unable to debut their third Audi R18 e-tron quattro, following an accident in free practice. However, the German car maker has taken its own hit at this year's Le Mans challenge.
Loïc Duval, who won the race in 2013, lost control of his Audi R18 e-tron quattro in the Porsche Corners. While travelling at over 270 km/h he hit the track barrier at an incredible speed, but was lucky enough to not be injured.
"The accident looked horrible," said Chris Reinke, head of LMP at Audi Sport. "It speaks for the safety concept of the Audi R18 and the Le Mans prototypes that Loïc survived the enormous crash nearly uninjured. We're relieved to see that he's well, considering the circumstances."
However, the risks and dangers of performing in the Le Mans challenge are well-publicised and have not phased the driver or squad. Earlier in the week, the Audi Sport Team Joest began preparing its next model to take on the second qualifying session at Le Mans later today (June 12th).
Following the incident, Marc Gené will be starting for Audi as Loïc Duval had to spend the night in hospital under observation. The team isn't worried about having to replace their first choice as the fierce and experienced Spaniard has everything needed to take on the course.
Having been part of the Audi Le Mans squad since 2011, Gené has already completed several track tests with the current Audi R18 e-tron quattro as he was originally destined to drive in an LMP2 sports car.
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