Countdown to Le Mans

Following PokerStars and Aston Martin Racing's outstanding performance on Thursday, in which its DBR9s qualified first and second in class for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the team is making its final preparations for this afternoon's race start.

Both cars have been re-built since qualifying, and the team used Saturday morning's 45-minute warm-up session to check them over. The drivers and engineers then finalized their strategies and car set-ups for the race, before agreeing that Darren Turner and Pedro Lamy would start the race in cars 007 and 009 respectively.

"I'm happy with the cars," said Aston Martin Racing team principal George Howard-Chappell. "We spotted something on the data of car 007 during the warm-up, so we've decided to make a precautionary engine change prior to the race; otherwise everything is running smoothly.

"We're expecting the race to be very tough because we have some serious competition out there, and I'm not just talking about the yellow cars. It will definitely be a race rather than an endurance run, so we expect it to be run at a very fast pace.

"It's great to see so many Aston Martin fans in the crowd, and I hope we can give them something to cheer about on Sunday afternoon."

With no on-track running on Friday, all six drivers had busy schedules. They attended partner functions in the morning and spent more than an hour signing autographs at the Aston Martin Racing merchandising stand in the afternoon, before playing several hands of poker at the stand.

"I've played poker before," said Stephane Sarrazin, "so I enjoyed it a lot. Let's just say there was a big difference between those of us that had previously played, and those that hadn't!"

In the evening, they attended the official driver parade in Le Mans town centre. It was a spectacular cavalcade of all the drivers in the race, and the Aston Martin Racing drivers received one of the biggest receptions.

"Aston Martin is very popular with the fans," said Tomas Enge, who took a record fifth consecutive pole position on Thursday, beating the long-standing record of Le Mans legend Jacky Ickx, "This year was very special because there were lots of people congratulating me on my pole position record and I was presented with a trophy by the ACO, which meant a lot. Let's now go and finish the job in the race."

The race kicks off at 5pm local time, which is one-hour later than usual, due to clashes with the football World Cup.
Brad Willis
@BradWillis in PokerStars news