Porsche on provisional pole at LeMans

Porsche No. 2 on provisional pole
Porsche No. 2 on provisional pole

The Porsche 919 Hybrids dominated the first day's practice. No. 2 driven by Dumas-Jani-Lieb set the quickest time in 3m19.733sec in front of its sister car and the no. 6 Toyota TS050. In LM P2, the no. 26 Oreca 05 entered by G-Drive Racing was fastest, while in LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am the no. 68 Ford and the Singapore team, Clearwater Racing's no. 61 Ferrari 458 Italia topped the time sheets.

The green flag was waved at 22:00 to unleash the cars for the first qualifying session. Five minutes later, the traffic was already very heavy as only ten cars were left in the pits. The Audi R18s accounted for two of the late starters, signaling a tough evening for the German marque.

Stephane Sarrazin in the #6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid was the first to record an excellent benchmark time of 03:20.737. After 12 minutes, Neel Jani (#2 Porsche 919 Hybrid) moved to the top of the standings in 03:19.733 despite being held up in traffic on the straight out of Karting Corner. After 32 minutes of the session, a red flag put paid to Mark Webber's plans to set a fast lap in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid. The session resumed at 22:43. Less than two minutes later, the #8 Audi R18 finally joined the track with Oliver Jarvis at the wheel. The car had been held up in the garage with front axle damage after Lucas Di Grassi hit a curb during free practice. As Jarvis set off, Di Grassi made a point of congratulating each of the mechanics for their work. The first full lap was completed in the eighth-fastest time of 03:31.934, considerably slower than the night's best.

It was a difficult session for Audi, which had to replace the MGU on the No. 8 car after striking a curb, while the No. 7 car suffered a small leak in a fuel connector. Both cars joined the session late due to these delays.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]There were more and more track incidents as time went on. Remi Striebig (Pegasus Racing Morgan) came off at Dunlop. At the same time, Ricky Taylor went straight on at Mulsanne with the #63 Corvette C7.R. A slow zone was called to avoid a red flag. However, drivers have no hope of bettering their lap times with a speed limit on part of the circuit.

It seemed that each time the track was clear, another incident occurred to hamper overall performance.

G-Drive Racing led the way in LM P2 with the #26 Oreca 05. The #35 and #36 Alpines followed. With 15 minutes to go Rene Rast managed to better his car's time with 03:36.605.

In LM GTE Pro too, things hotted up in the first quarter of an hour. Two Fords took the lead: the #67 GT, with Harry Tincknell at the wheel (03:51.590), and the #66, driven by Olivier Pla (03:52.038). Gianmaria Bruni was quick to react, setting 03:51.568 in the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE. Ford moved back in front before midnight struck, with #68 and #69, fielded by Chip Ganassi Team USA, the fastest.

Emmanuel Collard in the #83 Ferrari 458 Italia held the lead in LM GTE Am for a while with 03:57.742. He was knocked off his perch by the #55 Ferrari AF Corse, who was then bettered by Rob Bell in the gorgeous #61 Ferrari 458 Italia fielded by Clearwater Racing. Finally, the #98 Aston Martin slipped between the leading Ferraris. The Vantage V8s had been rather discreet until that point.

Several cars had minor offs during the two-hour session, however, the only stoppage was to recover Fisichella’s Ferrari, one of several beneficiaries of the newly re-profiled Porsche Curves’ additional run-off.

Two additional qualifying sessions are scheduled for tomorrow evening, although thunderstorms, which are in the forecast, may result in this evening’s times setting the grid for the race.

Quotes after first qualifying:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: "As the weather conditions for tomorrow don't look stable, P1 and P2 in the first qualifying session could become important. We have completed an entirely errorless day. Both our Porsche 919 Hybrids ran into traffic on their respective fastest laps, which means both cars have the potential to go faster. We are very much looking forward to the second and third qualifying sessions on Thursday."

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "This was a successful start into the race week for us. All our drivers have completed their mandatory night laps. Both cars ran without technical problems and we have completed our program as far as the changing weather conditions and the incidents on track allowed. We have found answers to all open questions we had. Of course, we are pleased to be in front with both cars after the first qualifying. Neel and Timo were super-fast and didn't take any avoidable risks, although they were held up in traffic. The entire team did a highly focused job today and we can just hope the week continues like this."

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 1:
Timo Bernhard (35, Germany):
(9 races: overall victory 2010, overall second 2015, class victory GT 2002)
"Qualifying was quite exciting. I had two attempts at a pole lap, each one looked very promising – but every time I met two slower cars in the Porsche Curves, which cost me a lot of time. Until then I was quite satisfied. But getting a clear lap here is always a kind of lottery. In any case we learned a lot for the race, and this is important too."

Brendon Hartley (26, New Zealand):
(4 races: overall second 2015)
"Timo did a mega job to start with. He did two best sector times and definitely was on the way to do a top time, but then he was very unfortunate with traffic several times in the last sector. But that's the story here in qualifying with 60 cars on the track and we have two more sessions tomorrow. It was good to familiarize myself with this unique track in the dark again. Everything is running smoothly, and P1 and P2 is a great team effort for today."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Mark Webber (39, Australia):
(4 participations: overall second in 2015, not racing in 1998 and 1999)
"We got through most things we wanted to, which was good. There is just one more day of qualifying to go before we get to the real stuff. I think we have done enough practice now, so we are looking forward to the race more and more. The boat is about to leave the jetty."

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2:
Romain Dumas (35, France):
(15 races: overall victory 2010, 3rd place overall 2007, 5th place overall 2015, class victory GTE 2013)
"I did my night laps and, unfortunately, there were a lot of slow zones, but this was a good practice for the race and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Neel Jani (32, Switzerland):
(7 races: qualifying record lap and 5th place overall 2015)
"It was really difficult to get a clear lap in tonight's qualifying. There was a lot of traffic and quite a number of cars drove extremely slowly. I believe no one managed a real good lap today. For the time being we were good enough to take provisional pole position, but there is a lot more possible. We are very happy with our car."

Marc Lieb (35, Germany):
(10 races: 5th place overall 2015, class victories GTE 2013, GT2 2010, GT 2005)
"During my second attempt there were significantly less slow zones around the track than during my first one, and the general driving was much better, despite a lot of traffic. We definitely made a step forward today and the first qualifying session was quite a success. Now we have to wait for the warmer track during the daytime to see how we perform in these conditions. Since there are still two qualifying sessions ahead of us, we must not take the times as final."

Results

Pos No. – Team Drivers Car Class Time Behind Gap
1 2 Porsche Team R. DUMAS / N. JANI / M. LIEB Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 H 3:19.733 +0.000s +0.000s
2 1 Porsche Team T. BERNHARD / M. WEBBER / B. HARTLEY Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 H 3:20.203 +0.470 +0.470
3 6 Toyota Gazoo Racing S. SARRAZIN / M. CONWAY / K. KOBAYASHI Toyota TS050 – Hybrid LMP1 H 3:20.737 +1.004 +0.534
4 5 Toyota Gazoo Racing A. DAVIDSON / S. BUEMI / K. NAKAJIMA Toyota TS050 – Hybrid LMP1 H 3:21.903 +2.170 +1.166
5 8 Audi Sport Team Joest L. DI GRASSI / L. DUVAL / O. JARVIS Audi R18 LMP1 H 3:22.466 +2.733 +0.563
6 7 Audi Sport Team Joest M. FÄSSLER / A. LOTTERER / B. TRÉLUYER Audi R18 LMP1 H 3:22.780 +3.047 +0.314
7 13 Rebellion Racing M. TUSCHER / A. IMPERATORI / D. KRAIHAMER Rebellion R-One – AER LMP1 3:26.586 +6.853 +3.806
8 12 Rebellion Racing N. PROST / N. HEIDFELD / N. PIQUET JR Rebellion R-One – AER LMP1 3:27.348 +7.615 +0.762
9 26 G-Drive Racing R. RUSINOV / W. STEVENS / R. RAST Oreca 05 – Nissan LMP2 3:36.605 +16.872 +9.257
10 35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine D. CHENG / H. TUNG / N. PANCIATICI Alpine A460 – Nissan LMP2 3:37.175 +17.442 +0.570
11 36 Signatech Alpine G. MENEZES / N. LAPIERRE / S. RICHELMI Alpine A460 – Nissan LMP2 3:37.225 +17.492 +0.050
12 44 Manor T. GRAVES / M. RAO / R. MERHI Oreca 05 – Nissan LMP2 3:38.037 +18.304 +0.812
13 49 Michael Shank Racing J. PEW / O. NEGRI JR / L. VANTHOOR Ligier JS P2 – Honda LMP2 3:38.837 +19.104 +0.800
14 31 Extreme Speed Motorsports R. DALZIEL / L. DERANI / C. CUMMING Ligier JS P2 – Nissan LMP2 3:39.366 +19.633 +0.529
15 46 Thiriet By Tds Racing P. THIRIET / M. BECHE / R. HIRAKAWA Oreca 05 – Nissan LMP2 3:39.375 +19.642 +0.009
16 42 Strakka Racing N. LEVENTIS / D. WATTS / J. KANE Gibson 015S – Nissan LMP2 3:39.394 +19.661 +0.019
17 47 KCMG T. MATSUDA / M. HOWSON / R. BRADLEY Oreca 05 – Nissan LMP2 3:39.436 +19.703 +0.042
18 23 Panis Barthez Competition F. BARTHEZ / P. CHATIN / T. BURET Ligier JS P2 – Nissan LMP2 3:39.470 +19.737 +0.034
19 33 Eurasia Motorsport J. PU / T. GOMMENDY / N. DE BRUIJN Oreca 05 – Nissan LMP2 3:40.631 +20.898 +1.161
20 38 G-Drive Racing S. DOLAN / J. DENNIS / G. VAN DER GARDE Gibson 015S – Nissan LMP2 3:40.685 +20.952 +0.054
21 43 RGR Sport by Morand R. GONZALEZ / B. SENNA / F. ALBUQUERQUE Ligier JS P2 – Nissan LMP2 3:40.899 +21.166 +0.214
22 27 SMP Racing N. MINASSIAN / M. MEDIANI / M. ALESHIN BR01 – Nissan LMP2 3:41.132 +21.399 +0.233
23 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports S. SHARP / E. BROWN / J. VAN OVERBEEK Ligier JS P2 – Nissan LMP2 3:41.406 +21.673 +0.274
24 28 Pegasus Racing I. TAITTINGER / R. STRIEBIG / L. ROUSSEL Morgan – Nissan LMP2 3:42.049 +22.316 +0.643
25 37 SMP Racing V. PETROV / V. SHAYTAR / K. LADYGIN BR01 – Nissan LMP2 3:42.147 +22.414 +0.098
26 48 Murphy Prototypes B. KEATING / J. BLEEKEMOLEN / M. GOOSSENS Oreca 03R – Nissan LMP2 3:43.508 +23.775 +1.361
27 34 Race Performance N. LEUTWILER / S. NAKANO / J. WINSLOW Oreca 03R – Judd LMP2 3:43.590 +23.857 +0.082
28 41 Greaves Motorsport M. ROJAS / J. CANAL / N. BERTHON Ligier JS P2 – Nissan LMP2 3:43.915 +24.182 +0.325
29 25 Algarve Pro Racing M. MUNEMANN / C. HOY / A. PIZZITOLA Ligier JS P2 – Nissan LMP2 3:44.185 +24.452 +0.270
30 84 SRT41 By OAK Racing F. SAUSSET / C. TINSEAU / J. BOUVET Morgan LMP2 – Nissan CDNT 3:45.178 +25.445 +0.993
31 40 Krohn Racing T. KROHN / N. JÃ-NSSON / J. BARBOSA Ligier JS P2 – Nissan LMP2 3:45.213 +25.480 +0.035
32 22 SO24 ! By Lombard Racing V. CAPILLAIRE / E. MARIS / J. COLEMAN Ligier JS P2 – Judd LMP2 3:48.585 +28.852 +3.372
33 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA J. HAND / D. MÃœLLER / S. BOURDAIS Ford GT LMGTE Pro 3:51.185 +31.452 +2.600
34 69 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA R. BRISCOE / R. WESTBROOK / S. DIXON Ford GT LMGTE Pro 3:51.497 +31.764 +0.312
35 51 AF Corse G. BRUNI / J. CALADO / A. PIER GUIDI Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE Pro 3:51.568 +31.835 +0.071
36 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK M. FRANCHITTI / A. PRIAULX / H. TINCKNELL Ford GT LMGTE Pro 3:51.590 +31.857 +0.022
37 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK O. PLA / S. MÃœCKE / B. JOHNSON Ford GT LMGTE Pro 3:52.038 +32.305 +0.448
38 71 AF Corse D. RIGON / S. BIRD / A. BERTOLINI Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE Pro 3:52.508 +32.775 +0.470
39 82 Risi Competizione G. FISICHELLA / T. VILANDER / M. MALUCELLI Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE Pro 3:53.176 +33.443 +0.668
40 92 Porsche Motorsport F. MAKOWIECKI / E. BAMBER / J. BERGMEISTER Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE Pro 3:54.918 +35.185 +1.742
41 95 Aston Martin Racing N. THIIM / M. SØRENSEN / D. TURNER Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE Pro 3:55.261 +35.528 +0.343
42 91 Porsche Motorsport P. PILET / K. ESTRE / N. TANDY Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE Pro 3:55.332 +35.599 +0.071
43 97 Aston Martin Racing R. STANAWAY / F. REES / J. ADAM Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE Pro 3:55.380 +35.647 +0.048
44 77 Dempsey – Proton Racing R. LIETZ / M. CHRISTENSEN / P. ENG Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE Pro 3:55.426 +35.693 +0.046
45 64 Corvette Racing – GM O. GAVIN / T. MILNER / J. TAYLOR Chevrolet Corvette C7.R LMGTE Pro 3:55.848 +36.115 +0.422
46 61 Clearwater Racing W. MOK / K. SAWA / R. BELL Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE Am 3:56.827 +37.094 +0.979
47 98 Aston Martin Racing P. DALLA LANA / P. LAMY / M. LAUDA Aston Martin V8 Vantage LMGTE Am 3:57.198 +37.465 +0.371
48 55 AF Corse D. CAMERON / M. GRIFFIN / A. SCOTT Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE Am 3:57.596 +37.863 +0.398
49 83 AF Corse F. PERRODO / E. COLLARD / R. AGUAS Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE Am 3:57.742 +38.009 +0.146
50 63 Corvette Racing – GM J. MAGNUSSEN / A. GARCIA / R. TAYLOR Chevrolet Corvette C7.R LMGTE Pro 3:57.967 +38.234 +0.225
51 50 Larbre Competition Y. YAMAGISHI / P. RAGUES / J. BELLOC Chevrolet Corvette C7-Z06 LMGTE Am 3:58.018 +38.285 +0.051
52 60 Formula Racing J. LAURSEN / M. MAC / C. NIELSEN Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE Am 3:58.760 +39.027 +0.742
53 78 KCMG C. RIED / W. HENZLER / J. CAMATHIAS Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am 3:59.245 +39.512 +0.485
54 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing K. AL QUBAISI / D. HEINEMEIER HANSS / P. LONG Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am 3:59.861 +40.128 +0.616
55 62 Scuderia Corsa W. SWEEDLER / T. BELL / J. SEGAL Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE Am 4:00.008 +40.275 +0.147
56 86 Gulf Racing M. WAINWRIGHT / A. CARROLL / B. BARKER Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am 4:01.046 +41.313 +1.038
57 89 Proton Competition C. MACNEIL / L. KEEN / M. MILLER Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE Am 4:01.215 +41.482 +0.169
58 57 Team AAI J. O'CONNEL / O. BRYANT / M. PATTERSON Chevrolet Corvette C7-Z06 LMGTE Am 4:02.326 +42.593 +1.111
59 99 Aston Martin Racing A. HOWARD / L. GRIFFIN / G. HIRSCH Aston Martin V8 Vantage LMGTE Am 4:03.148 +43.415 +0.822

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