Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche starts defence with Jani-led practice 1-2

Neel Jani led a Porsche one-two in free practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours on Wednesday afternoon with a lap set just before a red flag ended the session

Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche starts defence with Jani-led practice 1-2

Jani's 3m22.011s with 10 minutes left on the clock moved the #2 919 Hybrid half a second clear of the #1 machine, which led the way thanks to Brendon Hartley until the closing stages.

The session was brought to an early end when Stephane Sarrazin crashed the #6 Toyota TS050 on the exit of Indianapolis, while Ines Taittinger also lost the #28 Pegasus Morgan at the Porsche Curves around the same time.

A couple of laps before his off, Sarrazin had moved up to fourth overall, 1.1 seconds slower than Jani's eventual best, slotting in behind the fastest Audi of Lucas di Grassi, which went third with 45 minutes left on the clock.

Before the Porsches picked up the pace in the final hour, di Grassi's #8 R18 e-tron quattro led the way thanks to a lap by Loic Duval set early in the session before rain started to interfere just before the one-hour mark.

However Di Grassi hit a kerb at the first Mulsanne chicane with 90 minutes remaining, damaging the drivetrain and finishing the car's afternoon.

The #7 Audi, which ended the session sixth thanks to not improving once the track dried out again, also had a spin just before the rain intensified, with Benoit Treluyer losing control after catching the gravel on the exit of the Porsche Curves.

Treluyer, who set the car's fastest lap, managed to come to a stop before hitting anything, and shortly after he returned to the pits heavy rain hit most of the circuit.

Splitting the Audis was the #5 Toyota on a 3m24.031s set by Sebastien Buemi with 39 minutes left on the clock.

Behind the six works cars, reigning Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr set the fastest privateer lap in the #12 Rebellion, two tenths faster than Alexandre Imperatori in the #13 car.

The final LMP1 entrant, the ByKolles CLM, exited the session early after Pierre Kaffer was forced to stop on the Mulsanne Straight when the car caught fire.

Kaffer's attempts to help the marshals get to the flames included reaching through the smoke to detach the rear bodywork, and the charred machine was returned to the pits on a truck during the session.

LMP2

Richard Bradley put defending winner KCMG's ORECA 05 on top in LMP2 with a late lap.

Bradley turned a 3m39.133s with 10 minutes remaining, to beat his 2015 team-mate Nicolas Lapierre by nearly six tenths.

Lapierre, now with the Signatech Alpine outfit, moved to the top inside the final hour, displacing Eurasia Motorsport, which led through Tristian Gommendy until the track dried completely.

Panis Barthez Competition was third with Paul-Loup Chatin, and Eurasia fourth after Gommendy improved again.

Bruno Senna caused the second red flag of the session with just over 35 minutes left, when he crashed the RGR by Morand Ligier at Indianapolis.

The car wound up 16th in the class order with the team confident it would be back on track for Wednesday evening's qualifying session.

Pegasus Racing also faces repair work, after Taittinger crashed its Morgan at Porsche Curves.

GTE

Ferrari set the pace in both GT classes, with Gianmaria Bruni quickest in the #51 AF Corse-run 488 GTE.

The double world champion set a 3m53.833s to go one second quicker than last year's class pole time and 1.3s faster than the best effort from the test day earlier this month.

Toni Vilander made it a Ferrari one-two, three tenths slower in the #82 Risi Competizione car he usually races in the IMSA SportsCar Championship.

Ford took a significant step forward from the test day, locking out third, fourth and fifth.

The #68 GT, shared by Sebastien Bourdais, Dirk Muller and Joey Hand, ended up quickest of that trio on a 3m54.893s, with the #66 and #67 next in line.

Frederic Makowiecki put the lead Porsche eighth in GTE Pro, one place behind the last of the Fords and ahead of the #64 and #63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs respectively, which improved late on in the hands of Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia.

The lead Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE was 12th in class and almost three seconds off the pace.

Ferrari's form continued in GTE Am, where the older 458 Italia is still in use.

Rob Bell put the AF Corse-run Clearwater Racing version quickest on a 3m57.543s, 1.6s quicker than the #62 Scuderia Corsa entry.

Follow first qualifying for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours live with Autosport from 9pm UK time on Wednesday.

PRACTICE RESULTS:

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 LMP1 R.Dumas, N.Jani, M.Lieb Porsche Team Porsche 3m22.011s - 44
2 LMP1 T.Bernhard, M.Webber, B.Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 3m22.550s 0.539s 47
3 LMP1 L.di Grassi, L.Duval, O.Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m22.985s 0.974s 37
4 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, M.Conway, K.Kobayashi Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m23.158s 1.147s 42
5 LMP1 A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.Nakajima Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m24.031s 2.020s 40
6 LMP1 M.Fassler, A.Lotterer, B.Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3m25.526s 3.515s 38
7 LMP1 N.Prost, N.Heidfeld, N.Piquet Jr. Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m28.036s 6.025s 43
8 LMP1 M.Tuscher, A.Imperatori, D.Kraihamer Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 3m28.291s 6.280s 42
9 LMP1 S.Trummer, O.Webb, P.Kaffer ByKOLLES Racing Team CLM/AER 3m33.232s 11.221s 15
10 LMP2 T.Matsuda, M.Howson, R.Bradley KCMG ORECA/Nissan 3m39.133s 17.122s 34
11 LMP2 G.Menezes, N.Lapierre, S.Richelmi Signatech Alpine Alpine/Nissan 3m39.721s 17.710s 30
12 LMP2 F.Barthez, P-L.Chatin, T.Buret Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Nissan 3m40.308s 18.297s 42
13 LMP2 P.Jun Jin, T.Gommendy, N.de Bruijn Eurasia Motorsport ORECA/Nissan 3m40.321s 18.310s 39
14 LMP2 P.Thiriet, M.Beche, R.Hirakawa Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m40.455s 18.444s 40
15 LMP2 N.Leventis, D.Watts, J.Kane Strakka Racing Gibson/Nissan 3m40.976s 18.965s 31
16 LMP2 S.Sharp, E.Brown, J.van Overbeek Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/Nissan 3m41.327s 19.316s 37
17 LMP2 R.Rusinov, W.Stevens, R.Rast G-Drive Racing ORECA/Nissan 3m41.410s 19.399s 48
18 LMP2 R.Dalziel, P.Derani, C.Cumming Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/Nissan 3m42.116s 20.105s 37
19 LMP2 J.Pew, O.Negri, L.Vanthoor Michael Shank Racing Ligier/HPD 3m42.119s 20.108s 39
20 LMP2 D.Cheng, H-Pin Tung, N.Panciatici Baxi DC Racing Alpine Alpine/Nissan 3m42.143s 20.132s 25
21 LMP2 T.Graves, M.Rao, R.Merhi Manor ORECA/Nissan 3m42.866s 20.855s 32
22 LMP2 N.Minassian, M.Mediani, M.Aleshin SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m43.407s 21.396s 37
23 LMP2 S.Dolan, J.Dennis, G.van der Garde G-Drive Racing Gibson/Nissan 3m43.455s 21.444s 42
24 LMP2 V.Petrov, V.Shaytar, K.Ladygin SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 3m43.828s 21.817s 30
25 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, B.Senna, F.Albuquerque RGR Sport by Morand Ligier/Nissan 3m44.086s 22.075s 34
26 LMP2 I.Taittinger, R.Striebig, L.Roussel Pegasus Racing Morgan/Nissan 3m44.118s 22.107s 28
27 LMP2 M.Munemann, C.Hoy, A.Pizzitola Algarve Pro Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m44.983s 22.972s 26
28 LMP2 B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, M.Goossens Murphy Prototypes ORECA/Nissan 3m45.817s 23.806s 26
29 LMP2 N.Leutwiler, S.Nakano, J.Winslow Race Performance ORECA/Judd 3m46.130s 24.119s 39
30 LMP2 M.Rojas, J.Canal, N.Berthon Greaves Motorsport Ligier/Nissan 3m47.135s 25.124s 37
31 LMP2 V.Capillaire, E.Maris, J.Coleman So24 ! By Lombard Racing Ligier/Judd 3m48.953s 26.942s 28
32 LMP2 T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, J.Barbosa Krohn Racing Ligier/Nissan 3m49.988s 27.977s 21
33 GTE Pro G.Bruni, J.Calado, A.P.Guidi AF Corse Ferrari 3m53.833s 31.822s 33
34 Innov F.Sausset, C.Tinseau, J-B.Bouvet SRT41 By Oak Racing Morgan/Nissan 3m53.893s 31.882s 18
35 GTE Pro G.Fisichella, T.Vilander, M.Malucelli Risi Competizione Ferrari 3m54.180s 32.169s 21
36 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m54.893s 32.882s 32
37 GTE Pro O.Pla, S.Mucke, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m55.081s 33.070s 30
38 GTE Pro M.Franchitti, A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m55.436s 33.425s 31
39 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, A.Bertolini AF Corse Ferrari 3m55.502s 33.491s 32
40 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m55.510s 33.499s 30
41 GTE Am F.Makowiecki, E.Bamber, J.Bergmeister Porsche Motorsport Porsche 3m55.661s 33.650s 29
42 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, J.Taylor Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m56.131s 34.120s 26
43 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, R.Taylor Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m56.490s 34.479s 28
44 GTE Am P.Pilet, K.Estre, N.Tandy Porsche Motorsport Porsche 3m56.506s 34.495s 31
45 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m56.618s 34.607s 46
46 GTE Pro R.Lietz, M.Christensen, P.Eng Dempsey Racing - Proton Porsche 3m56.996s 34.985s 27
47 GTE Pro R.Stanaway, F.Rees, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m57.457s 35.446s 47
48 GTE Am Mok W.S., K.Sawa, R.Bell Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m57.543s 35.532s 40
49 GTE Am B.Sweedler, T.Bell, J.Segal Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 3m59.103s 37.092s 28
50 GTE Am F.Perrodo, E.Collard, R.Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 3m59.294s 37.283s 33
51 GTE Am K.Al Qubaisi, D.H.Hansson, P.Long Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 3m59.592s 37.581s 37
52 GTE Pro C.Ried, W.Henzler, J.Camathias KCMG Porsche 4m00.418s 38.407s 28
53 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 4m00.853s 38.842s 44
54 GTE Am Y.Yamagishi, P.Ragues, J-P.Belloc Larbre Competition Chevrolet 4m01.177s 39.166s 26
55 GTE Am D.Cameron, M.Griffin, A.Scott AF Corse Ferrari 4m01.200s 39.189s 39
56 GTE Am C.MacNeil, L.Keen, M.Miller Proton Competition Porsche 4m02.191s 40.180s 35
57 GTE Am J.Laursen, M.Mac, C.Nielsen Formula Racing Ferrari 4m02.432s 40.421s 34
58 GTE Am M.Wainwright, A.Carroll, B.Barker Gulf Racing Porsche 4m03.783s 41.772s 24
59 GTE Am J.O'Connell, O.Bryant, M.Patterson Team AAI Chevrolet 4m04.526s 42.515s 30
60 GTE Am A.Howard, L.Griffin, G.Hirsch Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 4m07.679s 45.668s 31

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