Porsches to start 1-2-3 at LeMans

Darkness falling on the long Mulsanne Straight

Neel Jani has easily set a new lap record of 3:16.887 at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Wednesday's first two-hour qualifying session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to score the provisional pole in the session that may well set the grid for this weekend's race.

The previous mark had been a 3:18.513 by Stephane Sarrazin set in 2008, with a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, while last year’s pole time was a 3:21.789 by Kazuki Nakajima in the Toyota TS040 Hybrid.

Evening sun greeted the start of the two-hour qualifying as 14 LMP1 cars in a grid of 56 fought for pole position, which is awarded to the fastest single lap time from any of the three qualifying sessions.

The contest was interrupted at half distance by a red flag, reducing running time by around half an hour as safety barriers were repaired following an accident.

Conditions were ideal for drivers and cars to set their best laps in cooling temperatures and a dry track.

It didn’t take long for the lap record to fall, as first Timo Bernhard and then Neel Jani immediately blitzed Sarrazin’s previous mark.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Bernhard took the red No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid to 3:17.767 to open the session, with Jani blowing past him by a further eight tenths on his first flying lap, at 3:16.887 in the black No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

It put the two Porsches on the front row from the off, with Nick Tandy bringing the third Porsche into the top three 25 minutes into the session after his first flying lap of 3:19.297.

The three Audis were next, with Loic Duval best of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattros in fourth place at 1:19.866 in the No. 8 car. The Nos. 9 and 7 Audis were fifth and sixth.

Benoit Treluyer had an incident just shy of the one-hour mark in the No. 7 Audi, following a spin on corner exit in the first chicane on the Mulsanne straight.

With the emphasis firmly on set-up development and tire evaluation over long stints rather than qualifying position, both Toyota TS040 HYBRIDs continued the constructive work started at last month’s official test day.

The #2 Toyota of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway was the fastest TS040 HYBRID and earned provisional seventh on the grid, with the #1 of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in eighth.

Another Frenchman, in the form of race debutante Gaetan Paletou in the No. 41 Greaves Motorsport Gibson 015S Nissan, had an incident at Mulsanne corner at the end of the straight.

Paletou’s incident brought out the first and only red flag of the session with an hour and one minute remaining, and lasted until 11:25 p.m. A notice from the stewards was released that read, “Due to local law, session must end at midnight 24:00."

Toyota was unable to better a 3:23.543 in the session, with the No. 2 Toyota TS040 Hybrid driven by Stephane Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz and Mike Conway ending in seventh.

The fastest of the debuting Rebellion R-One AERs got into the 3:26 range, with the No. 12 car at 3:26.874, while the best Nissan, the No. 23 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, posted a best time of 3:38.468.

Richard Bradley set the early mark in LMP2 with the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan at 3:38.032, and his lap was not eclipsed for the rest of the session. Bradley shares the car with Matthew Howson and Nicolas Lapierre.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The pair of Gibson 015S Nissans were second and third in class, with the No. 41 Greaves car ahead of the No. 38 Jota Sport car. The fastest of the Ligier JS P2 Nissans was the No. 26 G-Drive Racing entry in fourth.

Aston Martin swept the GTE classes, with Richie Stanaway and Pedro Lamy quickest in GTE-Pro and GTE-Am, respectively.

Stanaway took the No. 99 Hanergy-backed Aston Martin Vantage V8 to the overall best time in GTE with a 3:54.928, and Lamy was only 0.174 of a second behind at 3:55.102 in one of the three Gulf-liveried cars, the No. 98 Aston Martin.

The defending Le Mans-winning No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia was second in GTE-Pro, ahead of the two remaining Aston Martins and No. 63 Corvette C7.R.

Two further qualifying sessions follow on Thursday, from 7 to 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. local time.

First Qualifying Results

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time
1 LMP1 Neel Jani Porsche Team Porsche 3m16.887s
2 LMP1 T.Bernhard, M.Webber, B.Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 3m17.767s
3 LMP1 N.Hulkenberg, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche Team Porsche 3m19.297s
4 LMP1 L.di Grassi, L.Duval, O.Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m19.866s
5 LMP1 F.Albuquerque, M.Bonanomi, R.Rast Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m21.081s
6 LMP1 M.Fassler, A.Lotterer, B.Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m21.839s
7 LMP1 A.Wurz, S.Sarrazin, M.Conway Toyota Racing Toyota 3m23.543s
8 LMP1 A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota 3m23.767s
9 LMP1 N.Prost, M.Beche, N.Heidfeld Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m26.874s
10 LMP1 A.Imperatori, D.Kraihamer, D.Abt Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m31.933s
11 LMP2 M.Howson, R.Bradley, N.Lapierre KCMG ORECA/Nissan 3m38.032s
12 LMP1 O.Pla, J.Mardenborough, M.Chilton Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m38.468s
13 LMP2 G.Hirsch, G.Paletou, J.Lancaster Greaves Motorsport Gibson/Nissan 3m38.958s
14 LMP2 S.Dolan, M.Evans, O.Turvey JOTA Gibson/Nissan 3m39.004s
15 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.Canal, S.Bird G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m39.867s
16 LMP2 P.Thiriet, T.Gommendy, L.Badey Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m39.923s
17 LMP2 C.Cumming, L.Vanthoor, K.Estre Oak Racing Ligier/HPD 3m40.058s
18 LMP1 S.Trummer, P.Kaffer, T.Monteiro Team ByKolles CLM/AER 3m40.368s
19 LMP2 N.Panciatici, P-L.Chatin, V.Capillaire Signatech Alpine Alpine/Nissan 3m40.438s
20 LMP2 G.Yacaman, L.Derani, R.Gonzalez G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m40.967s
21 LMP1 H.Tincknell, M.Krumm, A.Buncombe Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m41.400s
22 LMP2 P.Ragues, O.Webb, Z.Amberg Team SARD Morand Morgan/SARD 3m42.015s
23 LMP2 L.Roussel, D.Cheng, H-Pin Tung Pegasus Racing Morgan/Nissan 3m42.023s
24 LMP2 M.Mediani, D.Markozov, N.Minassian SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m42.077s
25 LMP2 N.Leventis, D.Watts, J.Kane Strakka Racing Dome/Nissan 3m42.237s
26 LMP2 M.Aleshin, K.Ladygin, A.Ladygin SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m42.417s
27 LMP2 K.Chandhok, M.Patterson, N.Berthon Murphy Prototypes ORECA/Nissan 3m44.513s
28 LMP2 S.Sharp, R.Dalziel, D.Hansson Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 3m44.675s
29 LMP2 T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, J.Barbosa Krohn Racing Ligier/Judd 3m44.899s
30 LMP2 P.Perret, I.Bellarosa, J.Ibanez Ibanez Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m45.350s
31 LMP1 T.Matsuda, M.Shulzhitskiy, L.Ordonez Nissan Motorsports Nissan 3m45.807s
32 LMP2 E.Brown, J.van Overbeek, J.Fogarty Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 3m46.165s
33 LMP2 J.Nicolet, J-M.Merlin, E.Maris Oak Racing Ligier/HPD 3m52.843s
34 GTE Pro F.Rees, A.MacDowall, R.Stanaway Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m54.928s
35 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.102s
36 GTE Pro G.Bruni, T.Vilander, G.Fisichella AF Corse Ferrari 3m55.306s
37 GTE Pro D.Turner, S.Mucke, R.Bell Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.466s
38 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, C.Nygaard, N.Thiim Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.783s
39 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, R.Briscoe Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m55.963s
40 GTE Am F.Perrodo, E.Collard, R.Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 3m56.723s
41 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, J.Taylor Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m57.081s
42 GTE Pro R.Lietz, M.Christensen, J.Bergmeister Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 3m57.192s
43 GTE Pro D.Rigon, J.Calado, O.Beretta AF Corse Ferrari 3m57.216s
44 GTE Am V.Shaitar, A.Bertolini, A.Basov SMP Racing Ferrari 3m57.271s
45 GTE Pro P.Pilet, F.Makowiecki, W.Henzler Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 3m57.667s
46 GTE Am C.Ried, K.Al Qubaisi, K.Bachler Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 3m58.259s
47 GTE Am P.Mann, R.Giammaria, M.Cressoni AF Corse Ferrari 3m58.478s
48 GTE Am P.Dempsey, P.Long, M.Seefried Dempsey Racing – Proton Porsche 3m58.822s
49 GTE Am B.Sweedler, T.Bell, J.Segal Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 3m58.946s
50 GTE Am J.Bleekemolen, B.Keating, M.Miller Riley Motorsports-Ti Auto SRT/Dodge 3m59.054s
51 GTE Am D.Cameron, M.Griffin, A.Mortimer AF Corse Ferrari 3m59.091s
52 GTE Am G.Roda, P.Ruberti, K.Poulsen Larbre Competition Chevrolet 3m59.522s
53 GTE Am A.Al Faisal, K.Giermaziak, M.Avenatti JMW Motorsport Ferrari 4m00.551s
54 GTE Am R.Goethe, S.Hall, F.Castellacci Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 4m01.160s
55 GTE Am H.C.Chen, G.Vannelet, M.Parisy Team AAI Porsche 4m03.117s
56 GTE Am J.San Chen, A.Kapadia, X.Maassen Team AAI Porsche 4m04.827s

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