Toyota Gazoo Racing will go into race week for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with plenty of confidence after filling the first three places on the time sheets at the only official test day.
Toyota Gazoo Racing will go into race week for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with plenty of confidence after filling the first three places on the time sheets at the only official test day on the 13.629 km track which is largely composed of public roads.
The weather conditions were perfect, all 60 cars ran, and there were no major incidents…it’s now all systems go for race week, with the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship taking place on 17/18th June.
While it is worth remembering that test days are just that, and that times are not wholly representative, it gives fans and teams alike a first glimpse of how the competitors measure up against each other. Here are the headlines from this afternoon’s four hours of testing:
- Kamui Kobayashi (Mike Conway-Stéphane Sarrazin) set the screens alight early in the afternoon, with a fast lap of 3:18.132. The time from the No.7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID was 1.6s quicker than last year’s pole time.
- Toyota Gazoo Racing ended up 1-2-3, with Sébastien Buemi (Anthony Davidson-Kazuki Nakajima) in the No.8 Toyota lapping in 3:19.290 and José Mariá López (Nicolas Lapierre-Yuji Kunimoto) recording 3:21.455 in the No.9.
- Porsche LMP Team’s two 919 Hybrids were 4th and 5th overall, the No.2 of Earl Bamber (Timo Bernhard-Brendon Hartley) which had an early afternoon engine change due to an oil change just ahead of the sister car (Neel Jani-André Lotterer-Nick Tandy).
- New driver Marco Bonanomi (Oliver Webb-Dominik Kraihamer) quickly got to grips with the LMP1 Privateer ByKolles Racing Team ENSO CLM P1/01-NISMO, Kraihamer placing it in 7thplace overall, with the team confident of more pace to come in race week.
- WEC teams showed their high level of competition in LMP2, with the fastest of the new evolution of these cars – No.35 Signatech Alpine Matmut – lapping 8.45 seconds quicker than last year’s pole time!
- The No.35 A470 was seven tenths of a second ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne on his debut at Le Mans. The Frenchman’s No.24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07 (Tor Graves-Jonathan Hirschi) recorded a lap of 3:28.844, just 0.26s ahead of Alex Brundle (David Cheng-Tristan Gommendy) in the No.37 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry.
- G-Drive Racing was also in the mix, ending up 4th in class thanks to a lap from Alex Lynn (Roman Rusinov-Pierre Thiriet) which was just 1/100th of a second slower than Alex Brundle’s.
- Porsche GT Team looked to have had the upper hand in LMGTE Pro until the last minutes of the afternoon session when Corvette stole the top spot. The No.91 of Frédéric Makowiecki (Richard Lietz-Patrick Pilet) edged its sister No.92 911 RSR for the WEC top placing, but only by 3/1000ths!
- Behind the second Corvette in 5th and 6th in class were the two Aston Martin Vantages, No.95 (Nicki Thiim-Marco Sørensen-Richie Stanaway) narrowly ahead of the No.97 (Darren Turner-Jonny Adam-Daniel Serra).
- AF Corse’s two Ferrari 488 GTEs were next up, Miguel Molina making his debut at Le Mans in the No.71 and Lucas di Grassi discovering what it’s like to be passed by LMP1s during his first laps aboard the No.51.
- Ford’s GTs appeared to have not yet found their 2016 pace, lapping some way behind where expected.
- Pedro Lamy claimed the fastest lap of the day in LMGTE Am, the No.98 Aston Martin Vantage (Paul Dalla Lana-Mathias Lauda) stopping the clocks at 3:58.250.
- There were 4 different marques in the top four places, with WEC returnee Larbre Competition taking second in class, and the No.77 Dempsey Proton Racing 911 RSR of Christian Ried-Matteo Cairoli-Marvin Dienst filling p3 with a lap of 3:58.449.
- The 60 cars completed a total of 4379 laps, 59,675 kilometres, with the No.9 Toyota completing the most laps (106).
- The afternoon was interrupted for two red flags and a safety car, one of the red flags being to clear oil laid down by the No.25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing which brought the session to an early end, with less than 15 minutes remaining on the clock.
- Rendez-vous on 11/12th June for the official scrutineering of all entrants in the Place de la Republique in the centre of Le Mans. See you there!