Herbert favourite for Le Mans

Johnny Herbert established himself as favourite for next month’s Le Mans 24-Hour Race when he blitzed the opposition in yesterday’s trials at the historic French venue.

Johnny Herbert established himself as favourite for next month’s Le Mans 24-Hour Race when he blitzed the opposition in yesterday’s trials at the historic French venue.

The ex-Formula One star, who now competes in the American Le Mans Series for sportscars, is driving a works Audi this year which again proved itself the class of the field, clocking a time almost two seconds quicker than the second-placed car.

Herbert, 37, who won Le Mans in 1991, will bid to give Audi their third successive victory in the famous endurance test along with Italian co-drivers Rinaldo Capello and Christian Pescatori.

But they are up against Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro, who have triumphed at Le Mans for the last two years and are bidding to rewrite history by becoming the first trio to complete a consecutive hat-trick.

Mark Blundell, a former rival of Herbert in Formula One, also enjoyed an encouraging test as he and another English driver, Julian Bailey, recorded the fifth fastest time in their MG.

Andy Wallace, third in 2001, was sixth quickest with Eric van de Poele and Butch Leitzinger as their Bentley returned to Le Mans a year after finishing third on its debut.

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