Toyotas 1-2 in opening 24 Hours of Le Mans practice & quals

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing set the fastest lap times when track action began prior to the 88th Le Mans 24 Hours, as its challenge for a hat-trick of victories in the legendary French race began strongly.

On a busy practice day, qualifying decided the participants for Friday’s hyperpole contest, in which the leading cars fight for the top six grid positions in each class. Both TS050 HYBRIDs will participate against the other LMP1 contenders, and will challenge for a fourth consecutive TOYOTA pole position at Le Mans.

FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) leaders Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 TS050 HYBRID, set the pace with a lap of 3mins 17.089secs. Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, winners of the last two Le Mans 24 Hours, partner Brendon Hartley this year in the #8 TS050 HYBRID and they were second quickest, only 0.247secs adrift around the 13.626km circuit.

As with many aspects of life this year, the Le Mans schedule features many changes brought on by the current circumstances. With the traditional pre-event test day not taking place, today was the first time for the cars to drive on the Circuit de la Sarthe since last year’s race in June.

#1 Rebellion a distant 3rd so far

With no previous experience of the latest low-downforce-specification TS050 HYBRID at Le Mans, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing made full use of the extensive practice sessions to prepare for the weekend’s race.

Sébastien had the honor of recording the first timed lap for a TS050 HYBRID at Le Mans this year, at the beginning of the opening three-hour practice. The team used that time to analyze the aerodynamic characteristics of the low-downforce package, fine-tuning the set-up for the best compromise between high speed on the long Mulsanne Straight and appropriate downforce around the sweeping Porsche curves.

With little time between sessions, the pressure was on drivers and team members to avoid any mistakes or mechanical issues which could limit running later in the day. Thanks to their hard work, a busy first session was completed without drama, with Kazuki setting the quickest lap in the #8, 3mins 21.656secs, and Kamui recording the best time for the #7, 0.334secs behind in second.

# 8 Toyota 2nd quick

After a 60-minute break, a second three-hour practice began and the team made further progress on set-up development, analyzing tire performance and comparing mechanical and hybrid settings. The session was interrupted by red flags following accidents for LMP2 cars, and it again finished with the #8 on top, Sébastien having set the best time. The quickest effort from the #7, set by Mike, was second, 0.892secs behind.

A combined total of 127 laps during the two practice sessions, covering 1,730km, accelerated the team’s preparations for qualifying, which took place on a hot evening, with air temperatures of 29°C.

Kamui, who set the fastest-ever Le Mans laps in 2017, and Kazuki, a two-time pole position winner at La Sarthe, took qualifying duties at the beginning of the session. Kazuki set the fastest first two sectors in the #8 car but Kamui’s sector three time earned him the fastest lap.

All drivers had a chance to experience the qualifying session, but those early flying laps on new tires and with low fuel were not beaten, leaving the #7 in first place with the #8 just behind. The #1 Rebellion rounded out the top three, 4.509secs slower.

LMP1 Highlights
•    Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest time out of the LMP1 crews early on with a lap time of 3:17.089 in the No 7. Toyota TS050 Hybrid, 0.247s ahead of the No. 8 sister car with fellow Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel
•    Third quickest was the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson car, the car benefiting from a brand new engine after sitting out of the majority of FP2
•    Le Mans returnees, ByKolles Racing Team were fourth fastest with Frenchman Tom Dillmann setting a time of 3:24.468 in the No.4 Enso CLM/P1/01
•    Rounding out the top five is the No. 3 Rebellion car
•    All five cars will progress to tomorrow’s Hyperpole to determine grid positions for Saturday’s race

The Aston Martin’s ran 1-2 in LMGTE

LMGTE Pro Highlights
•    It was an Aston Martin 1-2 out of the eight LMGTE Pro entries competing at Le Mans, the top six spots occupied by full-time WEC entrants
•    Marco Sorensen set the fastest time at the wheel of the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage with a time of 3:50.872, 0.053s ahead of the sister No. 97 car
•    Third and fourth quickest in the session were the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo entries (No. 51 and No. 71)
•    After clocking the fifth and sixth fastest times, the two Porsche GT Team No. 91 and No 92 cars make up the final two slots in tomorrow’s Hyperpole



#22 United Ligier

LMP2 Highlights
•    No. 29 Racing Team Nederland fastest out of the 24 LMP2 entries, with Nyck De Vries setting a time of 3:26.648
•    Jackie Chan DC Racing second quickest in another ORECA 07 Gibson car as Will Stevens clocked a time of 3:27.097 early in the session
•    WEC LMP2 category leaders United Autosports third fastest after Paul Di Resta set a time of 3:27.148
•    Regular ELMS entry G-Drive Racing fourth quickest with a second United Autosports entry fifth overall
•    Sixth fastest overall – and taking the final slot in tomorrow’s Hyperpole – is the WEC’s No. 33 High Class Racing entry.  The Danish team making a quick recovery after stopping on track during FP2



#98 Aston Martin tops LMGTE AM

LMGTE Am  Highlights
•    In LMGTE Am, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing entry was on top with Ross Gunn setting the pace early on with a time of 3:52.778 in the Aston Martin Vantage
•    TF Sport was second, the British squad 0.183s adrift of pace-setters Aston Martin Racing
•    Rounding out the top three in Am qualifying was Gulf Racing in the No. 86 Porsche 911 RSR
•    The final three slots for LMGTE Am entries in Hyperpole were taken by Luzich Racing plus full-time WEC entries Dempsey-Proton Racing and Team Project 1 who finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively
•    Several lap times were deleted throughout the field due to abuse of track limits

Le Mans 24 Hours – Qualifying Practice Results

1 7 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m17.089s
2 8 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, B.Hartley Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 0.247s
3 1 LMP1 B.Senna, N.Nato, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 4.509s
4 4 LMP1 T.Dillmann, B.Spengler, O.Webb ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/Gibson 7.379s
5 3 LMP1 R.Dumas, N.Berthon, L.Deletraz Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 7.543s
6 29 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, Vries Racing Team Nederland ORECA/Gibson 9.559s
7 37 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, G.Aubry, W.Stevens Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 10.008s
8 22 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports ORECA/Gibson 10.059s
9 26 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J-E.Vergne, M.Jensen G-Drive Racing Aurus/Gibson 10.277s
10 32 LMP2 W.Owen, A.Brundle, J.van Uitert United Autosports ORECA/Gibson 10.509s
11 33 LMP2 K.Yamashita, M.Patterson, A.Fjordbach High Class Racing ORECA/Gibson 10.522s
12 38 LMP2 A.Davidson, A.F.da Costa, R.Gonzalez JOTA ORECA/Gibson 10.639s
13 16 LMP2 R.Cullen, O.Jarvis, N.Tandy G-Drive Racing by Algarve Aurus/Gibson 10.678s
14 31 LMP2 N.Jamin, J.Canal, M.Vaxiviere Panis Racing ORECA/Gibson 10.702s
15 36 LMP2 A.Negrao, P.Ragues, T.Laurent Signatech Alpine Elf Alpine/Gibson 10.705s
16 27 LMP2 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande Dragonspeed USA ORECA/Gibson 10.824s
17 42 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Borga, A.Coigny COOL Racing ORECA/Gibson 11.420s
18 39 LMP2 J.Allen, V.Capillaire, C.Milesi Graff-SO24 ORECA/Gibson 11.485s
19 30 LMP2 J.Hirschi, K.Tereschenko, T.Gommendy Duqueine Team ORECA/Gibson 12.002s
20 25 LMP2 J.Falb, S.Trummer, M.McMurry Algarve Pro Racing ORECA/Gibson 12.313s
21 21 LMP2 J.P.Montoya, T.Buret, M.Rojas Dragonspeed USA ORECA/Gibson 12.652s
22 47 LMP2 R.Lacorte, A.Belicchi, G.Sernagiotto Cetilar Racing Dallara/Gibson 12.791s
23 35 LMP2 N.Yamanaka, N.Foster, R.Merhi Eurasia Motorsport Ligier/Gibson 13.408s
24 24 LMP2 G.Grist, A.Kapadia, T.Wells Nielsen Racing ORECA/Gibson 13.808s
25 50 LMP2 T.Calderon, S.Florsch, B.Visser Richard Mille Racing Team ORECA/Gibson 13.931s
26 34 LMP2 J.Smiechowski, R.Binder, M.Isaakyan Inter Europol Competition Ligier/Gibson 14.304s
27 11 LMP2 A.Tambay, E.Maris, C.d’Ansembourg EuroInternational Ligier/Gibson 16.658s
28 95 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen, R.Westbrook Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 33.783s
29 97 GTE Pro M.Martin, A.Lynn, H.Tincknell Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 33.836s
30 51 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 34.155s
31 71 GTE Pro D.Rigon, M.Molina, S.Bird AF Corse Ferrari 34.899s
32 91 GTE Pro G.Bruni, R.Lietz, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 34.947s
33 92 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 35.053s
34 63 GTE Pro C.MacNeil, T.Vilander, J.Segal WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 35.419s
35 82 GTE Pro O.Pla, S.Bourdais, J.Gounon Risi Competizione Ferrari 35.660s
36 98 GTE Am P.D.Lana, R.Gunn, A.Farfus Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 35.689s
37 90 GTE Am S.Yoluc, C.Eastwood, J.Adam TF Sport Aston Martin 35.872s
38 86 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, A.Watson Gulf Racing Porsche 35.881s
39 61 GTE Am F.Piovanetti, O.Negri, C.Ledogar Luzich Racing Ferrari 36.203s
40 77 GTE Am C.Ried, R.Pera, M.Campbell Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 36.245s
41 56 GTE Am E.Perfetti, L.ten Voorde, M.Cairoli Team Project 1 Porsche 36.509s
42 83 GTE Am F.Perrodo, E.Collard, N.Nielsen AF Corse Ferrari 36.532s
43 99 GTE Am I.Vutthikorn, L.Legeret, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 36.581s
44 57 GTE Am B.Keating, F.Fraga, J.Bleekemolen Team Project 1 Porsche 36.749s
45 54 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella AF Corse Ferrari 37.055s
46 88 GTE Am T.Preining, D.Bastien, A.De Leener Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 37.192s
47 70 GTE Am T.Kimura, V.Abril, K.Cozzolino MR Racing Ferrari 37.539s
48 72 GTE Am H.C.Chen, T.Blomqvist, M.Gomes Hub Auto Racing Ferrari 38.219s
49 55 GTE Am D.Cameron, A.Scott, M.Griffin Spirit of Race Ferrari 38.683s
50 75 GTE Am R.Mastronardi, M.Cressoni, A.Piccini Iron Lynx Ferrari 39.052s
51 66 GTE Am R.Heistand, M.Root, J.Magnussen JMW Motorsport Ferrari 39.294s
52 78 GTE Am H.Felbermayr Jr., M.Beretta, M.van Splunteren Proton Competition Porsche 39.386s
53 85 GTE Am M.Gostner, R.Frey, M.Gatting Iron Lynx Ferrari 39.744s
54 60 GTE Am C.Schiavoni, S.Pianezzola, P.Ruberti Iron Lynx Ferrari 40.787s
55 62 GTE Am B.Grimes, J.Mowlem, C.Hollings Red River Sport Ferrari 42.995s
56 89 GTE Am P.Haezebrouck, J.Piguet, A.Laskaratos Team Project 1 Porsche 43.602s
57 52 GTE Am C.Ulrich, S.Gorig, A.West AF Corse Ferrari 44.128s
58 17 LMP2 D.Merriman, K.Tilley, J.Kennard Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson No Time
59 28 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, R.Bradley Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson No Time