#7 Toyota on provisional Le Mans pole despite bizarre collision

Kamui Kobayashi put the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID on provisional pole position for the Le Mans 24 Hours, before the car went airborne in a collision with an LMP2 runner

#7 Toyota on provisional Le Mans pole despite bizarre collision

Kobayashi's best lap came during the early banker runs conducted by the majority of the field at sunset.

He was initially baulked on his first flying lap by swathes of traffic, but Kobayashi then backed off to set a 3m17.161s best effort that remained unbeaten for the rest of the session.

The #7 car was then involved in a late scare during Mike Conway's turn behind the wheel.

The Toyota came across the DragonSpeed ORECA-Gibson 07 driven by Roberto Gonzalez as the LMP2 car made a last-minute move to rejoin the track after a spin at the Ford Chicanes.

Conway had already entered the second corner of the complex carrying too much speed to avoid contact, forcing the Toyota to drive over the nose of the ORECA and go airborne.

Significant debris littered the track with just over 45 minutes remaining in the session, but both drivers were declared OK.

Toyota had stressed before qualifying that it believed both SMP Racing and Rebellion Racing could challenge it for pole and the #17 SMP entry led the times briefly after the first runs, courtesy of a 3m17.633s lap set by Egor Orudzhev.

But Kobayashi's benchmark shuffled Orudzhev's #17 SMP Racing machine to second and DragonSpeed's Ben Hanley then set a 3m20.200s to move into third place.

That was as good as it got for the BRE-Gibson BR1 as Hanley's replacement Henrik Hedman soon stopped on track with a suspected gearbox issue that sidelined it for the majority of the session.

That meant the DragonSpeed entry was unable to respond when Rebellion's Thomas Laurent proved to be one of several LMP1 runners able to improve in night conditions.

Laurent's best time, a 3m19.803s lap for third, came after a trip into the gravel at the second Mulsanne chicane.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso lifted the #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID from sixth to fourth in the final minutes of the session courtesy of a 3m19.632s effort, narrowly avoiding an off at the Mulsanne on his best run.

That displaced the #1 Rebellion from fifth into sixth behind DragonSpeed after Neel Jani had set its best time of 3m20.327s earlier on.

The second Rebellion finished ahead of the #11 SMP Racing machine and the final LMP1 runner - the #4 ByKolles ENSO CLM-Gibson P1/01.

LMP2

The #31 DragonSpeed ORECA holds provisional pole in the LMP2 category after an early flier from Pastor Maldonado, but its session was overshadowed by Gonzalez's run-in with Conway, which caused major damage to the front nose section and was due to be investigated by the stewards.

Defending LMP2 race winner Nicolas Lapierre set the quickest time on the first runs for Signatech-Alpine in the #36 ORECA - rebadged as an Alpine A470 - with a 3m26.935s, but that was swiftly toppled on the following tour by Maldonado, whose 3m26.804s remained unchallenged until the end of the session.

That time was still fractionally under two seconds slower than the pole time set by Paul-Loup Chatin's IDEC Sport ORECA last year.

Maldonado returned to the track late on after repairs were completed and lapped regularly in the low 3m30s.

Behind the top two, Filipe Albuquerque completed a Michelin sweep of the top three positions in the #22 United Autosport Ligier he shares with Paul di Resta and Phil Hanson.

The lead trio were covered by a little over half a second, with Chatin's fourth-placed IDEC ORECA over a second adrift after recovering from a broken driveshaft to top the Wednesday afternoon practice session.

The best of the Dunlop-shod runners, Ho-Pin Tung in the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA, was 1.9 seconds off the pace after a late improvement to take sixth over the #28 TDS Racing ORECA driven by Loic Duval, which was hampered by throttle-related problems in practice.

GTE

GTE Pro was topped by Ford thanks to a last-ditch lap by Harry Tincknell in the #67 GT.

Tincknell set a time of 3m49.530s to move to the summit a couple of minutes before the end of the session, eclipsing Nick Tandy in the #93 Porsche 911 RSR by a scant 0.028s.

With around 20 minutes left on the clock, Antonio Garcia had posted a 3m49.467s in the #63 Corvette C7.R, only for it to be disallowed because he improved under yellow flags.

Aston Martin was third-fastest, as Alex Lynn's early best time of 3m50.037s in the #97 Vantage GTE was edged in the closing stages, while the remaining three Porsches - led by Frederic Makowiecki in the #91 car - filled out the top six places in class.

Aston's second car was next up in seventh followed by the best respective entries from Ferrari and BMW, while Corvette's top car ended up 11th after Garcia's time was scrubbed.

A spin for Olivier Pla at the exit of the final Porsche Curve in the #66 Ford put that car 17th and last in class.

The #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche led the way in GTE Am courtesy of Matteo Cairoli's 3m52.454s, which was enough to top the class by 0.296s from Jorg Bergmeister in the #56 Project 1 Porsche.

Julien Andlauer made it an all-Porsche top three in the #88 Dempsey-Proton machine with a late improvement ahead of the #98 Aston Martin.

The #99 Proton Porsche, severely damaged in Tracy Krohn's practice crash earlier in the day, did not appear on track in first qualifying.

First qualifying times

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m17.161s -
2 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, S.Sirotkin SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m17.633s 0.472s
3 LMP1 T.Laurent, N.Berthon, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m19.603s 2.442s
4 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m19.632s 2.471s
5 LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 3m20.200s 3.039s
6 LMP1 V.Petrov, M.Aleshin, S.Vandoorne SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m20.934s 3.773s
7 LMP1 T.Dillmann, O.Webb, P.Ruberti ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/Nissan 3m25.246s 8.085s
8 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, A.Davidson DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 3m26.804s 9.643s
9 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 3m26.935s 9.774s
10 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m27.338s 10.177s
11 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, M.Rojas Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.847s 10.686s
12 LMP2 N.Jamin, P.Ragues, R.Dumas Duqueine Engineering ORECA/Gibson 3m28.653s 11.492s
13 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, S.Richelmi, G.Aubry Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.738s 11.577s
14 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.840s 11.679s
15 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, N.de Vries Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 3m28.909s 11.748s
16 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.van Uitert, J-E.Vergne G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m29.107s 11.946s
17 LMP2 D.Zollinger, A.Pizzitola, J.Falb Algarve Pro Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m29.126s 11.965s
18 LMP2 D.H.Hansson, J.King, R.Taylor Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m29.498s 12.337s
19 LMP2 R.Cullen, A.Brundle, W.Owen United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m29.583s 12.422s
20 LMP2 R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, A.Belicchi Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara/Gibson 3m29.748s 12.587s
21 LMP2 R.Binder, J.Canal, W.Stevens Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m29.821s 12.660s
22 LMP2 J.Smiechowski, J.Winslow, N.Moore Inter Europol Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m30.744s 13.583s
23 LMP2 T.Gommendy, V.Capillaire, J.Hirschi Graff ORECA/Gibson 3m30.970s 13.809s
24 LMP2 J.Farano, A.Maini, N.Nato RLR M Sport/Tower Events ORECA/Gibson 3m31.017s 13.856s
25 LMP2 A.Fjordbach, D.Andersen, M.Beche High Class Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m32.945s 15.784s
26 LMP2 M.Konopka, H.Enqvist, K.Tereschenko ARC Bratislava Ligier/Gibson 3m35.480s 18.319s
27 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, N.Boulle Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m38.663s 21.502s
28 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, J.Bomarito Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m49.530s 32.369s
29 GTE Pro P.Pilet, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.558s 32.397s
30 GTE Pro M.Martin, A.Lynn, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m50.037s 32.876s
31 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.099s 32.938s
32 GTE Pro S.Muller, M.Jaminet, D.Olsen Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.278s 33.117s
33 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.468s 33.307s
34 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m50.812s 33.651s
35 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, M.Molina AF Corse Ferrari 3m50.850s 33.689s
36 GTE Pro N.Catsburg, M.Tomczyk, P.Eng BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m51.476s 34.315s
37 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m51.821s 34.660s
38 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, M.Rockenfeller Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m52.109s 34.948s
39 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 3m52.128s 34.967s
40 GTE Am S.Hoshino, G.Roda, M.Cairoli Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m52.454s 35.293s
41 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, M.Fassler Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m52.490s 35.329s
42 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 3m52.750s 35.589s
43 GTE Pro P.Derani, O.Jarvis, J.Gounon Risi Competizione Ferrari 3m52.997s 35.836s
44 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m53.053s 35.892s
45 GTE Am M.Campbell, C.Ried, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m53.408s 36.247s
46 GTE Pro A.Farfus, A.F.da Costa, J.Krohn BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m53.498s 36.337s
47 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.530s 36.369s
48 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 3m53.793s 36.632s
49 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m53.793s 36.632s
50 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 3m53.974s 36.813s
51 GTE Am L.Prette Jr., P.Prette, V.Abril Proton Competition Porsche 3m54.324s 37.163s
52 GTE Am J.Segal, R.Baptista, W.Lu JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m54.513s 37.352s
53 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 3m54.737s 37.576s
54 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, T.Preining Gulf Racing Porsche 3m55.033s 37.872s
55 GTE Am C.MacNeil, T.Vilander, R.Smith WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 3m55.544s 38.383s
56 GTE Am T.Kimura, K.Cozzolino, C.Ledogar CarGuy Racing Ferrari 3m56.034s 38.873s
57 GTE Am L.P.-Companc, M.Griffin, M.Cressoni Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m56.072s 38.911s
58 GTE Am C.Schiavoni, S.Pianezzola, A.Piccini Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m56.147s 38.986s
59 GTE Am M.Gostner, R.Frey, M.Gatting Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m56.333s 39.172s
60 GTE Am B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, F.Fraga Keating Motorsports Ford 3m56.579s 39.418s
61 LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson - -
62 GTE Am P.Long, T.Krohn, N.Jonsson Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche - -

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Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota grabs practice top spot from SMP
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