The fierce rivalry between the Porsche and Jaguar factory teams is expected to turn today's Le Mans 24-hour endurance auto classic into a round-the-clock sprint race.
Porsche vs. Jaguar is the theme of the 55th running of the world's most famous auto endurance event. The showdown has injected new interest in the race, which has suffered diminishing crowds in recent years.
Since 1981, the Le Mans has been a Porsche parade. But this year Jaguar has mounted the first serious challenge to Porsche's stranglehold on international sports car racing since the introduction of the current Group C formula in 1982.
In the 1987 world sports car championship, of which the Le Mans is the fifth event, the score is Jaguar 4, Porsche 0.
Porsche 962Cs hold the top two starting positions followed by a trio of Jaguars. Frenchman Bob Wollek, whose co-driver is West German Jochen Mass, had the fastest qualifying time of 3 minutes 21.09 seconds--an average speed of 150.568 m.p.h. around the 8.41-mile circuit.
The race is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (9 a.m. PDT), and the winning team is expected to cover more than 3,100 miles at speeds of up to 220 m.p.h.