Porsche paces first Le Mans 24 Hour free practice

Autosport

Porsche set the pace in free practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours, with Neel Jani posting the fastest lap of the session with just five minutes to go.

It had looked like Toyota would continue to set the pace after dominating the pre-event test day, but Jani’s 3m20.362s in the dying moments of practice provided a boost to Porsche ahead of qualifying.

The #1 919 Hybrid finished up 0.604s faster than Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID.

The Japanese driver only joined the fray with 45 minutes of the four-hour long session to go and was instantly on the pace, setting a 3m20.996s lap to put the #7 TS050 HYBRID car fastest.

Kobayashi then spun exiting the final corner when trying to find further time, and had to settle for second best.

The #9 Toyota in the hands of marque returnee Nicolas Lapierre was at the head of the leaderboard for the majority of the session with a time set very early on.

But he was then demoted down the order by the #2 Porsche with 2015 winner Earl Bamber at the wheel of the 919 Hybrid.

Bamber finished third on a 3m21.687s, 1.3s down on Jani, and less than a tenth of a second ahead of Sebastien Buemi in the #8 machine.

All five of the manufacturer cars finished with times relatively close together with Lapierre ending up fifth and only 1.6s behind Jani.

Besides Kobayashi’s rotation there was little incident in the session with all five cars setting around 50 laps.

The ByKolles CLM completed the sextet of LMP1 cars but only set 24 laps with fluid reported to be leaking from it.

Its best time of 3m27.828s was 6.8s slower than Kobayashi but was still three seconds quicker than the fastest LMP2 machine.

LMP2: LYNN LEADS ORECA BATTLE

Former Williams junior Formula 1 driver Alex Lynn set the pace in LMP2 driving the #26 G-Drive ORECA.

He went top with just under 40 minutes remaining in the DragonSpeed-run machine with a time of 3m30.363s.

This relegated the #13 Rebellion ORECA, which held top spot for over two hours thanks to the pace first of Nelson Piquet Jr and then Mathias Beche, to second place.

The Rebellion car was 1.3s slower than Lynn, with the sister #31 car third fastest in the hands of Bruno Senna and less than a tenth further behind.

Having mixed it near the top of the timesheets for the first three hours of the session, the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECAs ended up fourth and fifth.

Ho-Pin Tung ensured the #38 machine that won the Silverstone World Endurance Championship opener was the faster of the two, with Tristan Gommendy setting a time good enough for fifth during the final hour.

This shuffled the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA, which had been as high as second in the hands of Ben Hanley, down to sixth by the chequered flag.

As anticipated, ORECA dominated with 14 of the leading 15 cars. The best non-ORECA was the #27 SMP Dallara, which ended up 10th thanks to Victor Shaytar’s lap just over four seconds off the pace.

The best of the Ligiers was the #32 United Autosports entry of Filipe Albuquerque in 16th. The sole Riley Mk30, run by Keating Motorsports, was slowest.

Former Ferrari Formula 1 ace Rubens Barrichello was 19th quickest on his Le Mans 24 Hours debut in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara he shares with 1988 winner Jan Lammers.

GTE: BIRD PUTS FERRARI AHEAD

Ferrari set the pace in GTE Pro courtesy of a late flyer by Sam Bird in the #71 AF Corse 488 he shares with Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina, but Aston Martin and Chevrolet led the majority of the running.

The #95 Aston Martin flew early on in the hands of Marco Sorensen, leading for much of the first half of the session, but was eventually outpaced by Chevrolet, Ferrari and Ford and then suffered a rear-left puncture at the end of the third hour while Richie Stanaway was at the wheel.

After keeping a low profile during the first two hours of the session, Chevrolet picked up the pace and a 3m56.004s lap set by Jan Magnussen at the end of the third hour stood as the fastest time of all – until Darren Turner beat it with a 3m55.299s in the #97 Aston during the last half hour.

Bird then brought Turner’s tenure at the top to an end with a 3m54.832s, but the #51 AF Corse couldn’t quite match the sister car’s pace despite the best efforts of James Calado, whose late 3m55.504s was good for third.

The #95 Aston returned to the track in the hands of Nicki Thiim, who demoted the Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor to fifth with a 3m55.925s in the final half hour.

Aston Martin’s factory-entered #98 Vantage shared by Mathias Lauda, Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy set the early GTE Am pace in the hands of Lauda before being supplanted by a flying Fernando Rees in the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette, whose 3m58.234 was faster than anything the works Chevrolets running in the Pro class could manage.

Rees handed over to Le Mans first-timer Christian Philippon, who promptly shunted the car at the exit of the Porsche Curves.

Larbe remained at the top of the timesheets for a further hour while the car sat in the garage before Alvaro Parente beat Rees’s time in the #60 Clearwater Racing Ferrari. That car later suffered a front-left puncture at the end of the third hour while still leading the class.

In the final hour Lamy returned the #98 Aston to the top with a 3m56.082s lap that remained the benchmark until the end of the session.

FREE PRACTICE RESULTS

POSCLASSDRIVERTEAMCARTIMEGAPLAPS
1LMP1N.Tandy, A.Lotterer, N.JaniPorsche LMP TeamPorsche3m20.362s50
2LMP1M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, S.SarrazinToyota Gazoo RacingToyota3m20.966s0.604s51
3LMP1T.Bernhard, E.Bamber, B.HartleyPorsche LMP TeamPorsche3m21.687s1.325s56
4LMP1A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.NakajimaToyota Gazoo RacingToyota3m21.775s1.413s50
5LMP1J.M.Lopez, Y.Kunimoto, N.LapierreToyota Gazoo RacingToyota3m21.975s1.613s54
6LMP1O.Webb, M.Bonanomi, D.KraihamerByKOLLES Racing TeamENSO CLM/Nissan3m27.828s7.466s24
7LMP2A.Lynn, R.Rusinov, P.ThirietG-Drive RacingORECA/Gibson3m30.363s10.001s47
8LMP2N.Piquet Jr., M.Beche, D.H.HanssonVaillante RebellionORECA/Gibson3m31.666s11.304s50
9LMP2N.Prost, B.Senna, J.CanalVaillante RebellionORECA/Gibson3m31.749s11.387s49
10LMP2H-Pin Tung, O.Jarvis, T.LaurentJackie Chan DC RacingORECA/Gibson3m32.025s11.663s45
11LMP2T.Gommendy, A.Brundle, D.ChengJackie Chan DC RacingORECA/Gibson3m32.286s11.924s47
12LMP2B.Hanley, F.Rosenqvist, H.HedmanDragonspeed – 10 StarORECA/Gibson3m32.491s12.129s30
13LMP2E.Collard, M.Vaxiviere, F.PerrodoTDS RacingORECA/Gibson3m32.910s12.548s47
14LMP2V.Petrov, S.Trummer, R.GonzalezCEFC Manor TRS RacingORECA/Gibson3m34.053s13.691s37
15LMP2R.Dumas, G.Menezes, M.RaoSignatech Alpine MatmutAlpine/Gibson3m34.356s13.994s35
16LMP2E.Trouillet, E.Guibbert, J.WinslowGraffORECA/Gibson3m34.479s14.117s47
17LMP2M.Aleshin, S.Sirotkin, V.ShaytarSMP RacingDallara/Gibson3m34.507s14.145s34
18LMP2J-E.Vergne, J.Hirschi, T.GravesCEFC Manor TRS RacingORECA/Gibson3m34.806s14.444s32
19LMP2R.Bradley, J.Allen, F.MatelliGraffORECA/Gibson3m34.950s14.588s44
20LMP2M.Rojas, R.Hirakawa, J.GutierrezG-Drive RacingORECA/Gibson3m35.505s15.143s30
21LMP2N.Panciatici, A.Negrao, P.RaguesSignatech Alpine MatmutAlpine/Gibson3m35.862s15.500s35
22LMP2F.Albuquerque, W.Owen, H.de SadeleerUnited AutosportsLigier/Gibson3m35.977s15.615s43
23LMP2A.Belicchi, R.Lacorte, G.SernagiottoCetilar Villorba CorseDallara/Gibson3m36.085s15.723s35
24LMP2N.Berthon, T.Buret, F.BarthezPanis Barthez CompetitionLigier/Gibson3m36.096s15.734s44
25LMP2R.Barrichello, J.Lammers, F.van EerdRacing Team NederlandDallara/Gibson3m37.679s17.317s42
26LMP2V.Capillaire, M.McMurry, M.PattersonAlgarve Pro RacingLigier/Gibson3m37.726s17.364s43
27LMP2N.Moore, K.Chandhok, P.HansonTockwith MotorsportsLigier/Gibson3m37.913s17.551s42
28LMP2P.Lafargue, P.Lafargue, D.ZollingerIdec Sport RacingLigier/Gibson3m39.807s19.445s46
29LMP2K.Calko, R.Breukers, M.KonopkaARC BratislavaLigier/Gibson3m40.379s20.017s32
30LMP2J.Nicolet, P.Nicolet, E.MarisEurasia MotorsportLigier/Gibson3m42.850s22.488s41
31LMP2J.Bleekemolen, R.Taylor, B.KeatingKeating MotorsportsRiley/Gibson3m43.372s23.010s27
32GTE ProD.Rigon, S.Bird, M.MolinaAF CorseFerrari3m54.832s34.470s42
33GTE ProD.Turner, J.Adam, D.SerraAston Martin RacingAston Martin3m55.299s34.937s53
34GTE ProA.P.Guidi, J.Calado, M.RugoloAF CorseFerrari3m55.504s35.142s36
35GTE ProN.Thiim, M.Sorensen, R.StanawayAston Martin RacingAston Martin3m55.925s35.563s50
36GTE ProJ.Magnussen, A.Garcia, J.TaylorCorvette Racing – GMChevrolet3m56.004s35.642s49
37GTE ProT.Vilander, G.Fisichella, P.KafferRisi CompetizioneFerrari3m56.079s35.717s24
38GTE AmP.Lamy, M.Lauda, P.D.LanaAston Martin RacingAston Martin3m56.082s35.720s49
39GTE ProR.Briscoe, S.Dixon, R.WestbrookFord Chip Ganassi Team USAFord3m56.563s36.201s35
40GTE ProO.Gavin, T.Milner, M.FasslerCorvette Racing – GMChevrolet3m56.934s36.572s48
41GTE ProJ.Hand, T.Kanaan, D.MullerFord Chip Ganassi Team USAFord3m56.935s36.573s40
42GTE ProR.Lietz, F.Makowiecki, P.PiletPorsche GT TeamPorsche3m57.013s36.651s45
43GTE ProM.Christensen, D.Werner, K.EstrePorsche GT TeamPorsche3m57.069s36.707s45
44GTE ProA.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, P.DeraniFord Chip Ganassi Team UKFord3m57.319s36.957s37
45GTE ProO.Pla, S.Mucke, B.JohnsonFord Chip Ganassi Team UKFord3m57.472s37.110s40
46GTE AmA.Bertolini, N.Jonsson, T.KrohnDH RacingFerrari3m57.540s37.178s35
47GTE AmW.Stevens, D.Vanthoor, R.SmithJMW MotorsportFerrari3m57.614s37.252s35
48GTE AmA.Parente, H.Katoh, R.WeeClearwater RacingFerrari3m57.797s37.435s45
49GTE AmF.Rees, R.Brandela, C.PhilipponLarbre CompetitionChevrolet3m58.234s37.872s20
50GTE AmT.Bell, B.Sweedler, C.MacNeilScuderia CorsaFerrari3m58.511s38.149s43
51GTE AmA.Balzan, C.Nielsen, B.CurtisScuderia CorsaFerrari3m58.559s38.197s39
52GTE AmM.Griffin, K.Sawa, Mok W.S.Clearwater RacingFerrari3m58.901s38.539s46
53GTE AmR.Bell, E.Hankey, S.YolucTF SportAston Martin3m58.940s38.578s47
54GTE AmM.Cioci, A.Scott, D.CameronSpirit of RaceFerrari3m59.111s38.749s36
55GTE AmM.Cairoli, M.Dienst, C.RiedDempsey-Proton RacingPorsche4m00.049s39.687s43
56GTE AmR.Gunn, O.Bryant, A.HowardBeechdean AMRAston Martin4m00.321s39.959s49
57GTE AmO.Beretta, F.Castellacci, T.FlohrSpirit of RaceFerrari4m00.595s40.233s48
58GTE AmP.Long, A.Al Faisal, M.HedlundProton CompetitionPorsche4m00.599s40.237s41
59GTE AmB.Barker, N.Foster, M.WainwrightGulf RacingPorsche4m01.148s40.786s45
60GTE AmK.Bachler, S.Lemeret, K.Al QubaisiProton CompetitionPorsche4m01.264s40.902s50

Porsche paces first Le Mans 24 Hour free practice

  • Autosport
    About The Author
    -

    ten − nine =

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>