Le Mans 24 Hours practice: Toyota claims 1-2 late in session

The #7 Toyota led the way in Le Mans 24 Hours practice, with a late improvement from Sebastien Buemi in the sister #8 car securing the manufacturer a session 1-2

Le Mans 24 Hours practice: Toyota claims 1-2 late in session

Jose Maria Lopez recorded a 3m19.626s lap aboard the #7 TS050 HYBRID with around an hour of the four-hour session remaining, but that effort was trumped with 10 minutes left by Kamui Kobayashi, who lowered the benchmark by another nine tenths.

His eventual best of 3m18.718s was more than two and a half seconds faster than the best time set at the test day earlier this month, which two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso managed in the sister #8 car.

Buemi moved the #8, which had spent the majority of the session outside the top three, up to second with a 3m19.275s on his final lap.

The #8 completed more laps than any other in the LMP1 class - 55 - while the two Toyotas managed more than 100 laps combined.

Buemi's effort dislodged the #3 ORECA-built Rebellion R-13 from second, although Thomas Laurent did improve that car's time on his final lap to end the session 0.708 seconds off the pace in third.

Laurent had stopped the car on track in the final hour, but was able to recover to the pits and returned to the track to complete the session.

Ben Hanley ended up fourth for DragonSpeed and best of the BR1 cars, finishing almost a second faster than the #11 SMP Racing entry.

The #1 Rebellion of Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Bruno Senna ended up sixth ahead of the second SMP car, with the sole ByKolles car eighth and five seconds off the pace.

Manor's pair of Ginetta G60s endured a troubled session.

The #5 car stopped on track in the first five minutes, although did return to the track to set a fastest time of 3m25.203s, while the sister #6 car propped up the overall timesheets after completing just seven laps.

Its running was cut short as the team began to replace its engine in the final hour.

Vergne sets the pace in LMP2

Jean-Eric Vergne underlined G-Drive Racing's status as LMP2 pre-race favourite by topping the timesheets by over half a second.

The Frenchman, sharing the #26 TDS Racing-entered ORECA 07 which Alex Lynn qualified on pole last year with Andrea Pizzitola and Romain Rusinov, was the only driver under the 3m27s bracket, clocking a 3m26.529s in the final hour of the session.

Paul-Loup Chatin's early benchmark of 3m27.054s in the #48 IDEC Sport ORECA was good enough for second in class, ahead of the second TDS Racing ORECA, the #28 example driven by 2013 event winner Loic Duval.

ORECAs filled the top five positions in class, with a late effort from Le Mans debutant Paul di Resta aboard the #22 United Autosports Ligier putting him best of the rest behind Nathanael Berthon's Dragonspeed and Tristan Gommendy's Graff-So24 entries, albeit still 1.755s off the pace.

Several LMP2 runners hit trouble in the session, including the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA of Nabil Jeffri, who had an incident at Indianapolis and did not return to the circuit.

The #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara which set a lap good enough for eighth in the hands of Felipe Nasr early on stopped at the second chicane with a left-rear puncture, although Giorgio Sernagiotto managed to get back to the pits.

Porsche on top in GTE battle

Porsche led the way in GTE Pro, locking out the top three places in class.

Laurens Vanthoor set the fastest time halfway into the session with a 3m50.859s in the 'Pink Pig'-liveried #92 Porsche 911 RSR, which remained the benchmark until the final 20 minutes - when Patrick Pilet took over at the top in the #93 car with a 3m50.121s.

It wasn't an entirely smooth session for Pilet though, as his car suffered right-front damage when he clipped the end of one of the barriers exiting the second chicane, forcing a return to the garage for repairs.

Gianmaria Bruni was third in the Rothmans-themed #91 Porsche, a further 0.003s back.

Best of the rest was Olivier Pla in the #66 Ford GT, 1.377s off the pace, followed by the first of the AF Corse Ferraris, the #71 machine of Miguel Molina just 0.023s behind.

Porsche's fourth entry, the #94, was sixth fastest in the hands of Romain Dumas, followed by the second of the Ferraris and the remaining three Fords.

Corvette, BMW and Aston Martin all endured a low-key session, filling out the bottom six places in class between them.

After being handed a boost in the latest round of Balance of Performance changes, the lead Aston Martin Vantage GTE was only 15th-fastest, 3.606s off the pace, one place behind the quicker of the BMW M8 GTEs.

Porsche topped the times in GTE-Am, as Matteo Cairoli posted a best of 3m52.903s in the #88 Dempsey-Proton car to beat Ben Barker in the #86 Gulf Racing machine by 0.931s.

Ex-F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella was the best of the non-Porsches in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari, a little over a tenth further back, fractionally clear of the second Dempsey-Proton car.

Free practice times

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Laps
1 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m18.718s 54
2 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m19.275s 55
3 LMP1 T.Laurent, M.Beche, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m19.426s 39
4 LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 3m20.322s 44
5 LMP1 V.Petrov, M.Aleshin, J.Button SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m21.304s 47
6 LMP1 A.Lotterer, N.Jani, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m21.549s 46
7 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, M.Isaakyan SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m21.557s 46
8 LMP1 O.Webb, D.Kraihamer, T.Dillmann ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/NISMO 3m23.795s 37
9 LMP1 C.Robertson, M.Simpson, L.Roussel CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 3m25.203s 15
10 LMP2 R.Rusinov, A.Pizzitola, J-E.Vergne G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m26.529s 52
11 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, M.Rojas Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.054s 37
12 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.817s 51
13 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, N.Berthon DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 3m28.178s 36
14 LMP2 V.Capillaire, J.Hirschi, T.Gommendy Graff-SO24 ORECA/Gibson 3m28.218s 10
15 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m28.284s 43
16 LMP2 J.Jaafar, N.Jeffri, W.Tan Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m29.135s 24
17 LMP2 J.Allen, J.Gutierrez, E.Guibbert G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m29.204s 32
18 LMP2 R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, F.Nasr Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara/Gibson 3m29.214s 41
19 LMP2 V.Shaytar, H.Newey, N.Nato SMP Racing Dallara/Gibson 3m29.793s 44
20 LMP2 T.Buret, J.Canal, W.Stevens Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m30.168s 43
21 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 3m30.750s 24
22 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, S.Richelmi, G.Aubry Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m30.922s 38
23 LMP2 H.de Sadeleer, W.Owen, J.P.Montoya United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m31.056s 50
24 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, J.Lammers Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 3m31.465s 48
25 LMP2 R.Taylor, C.Ledogar, D.H.Hansson Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m31.837s 42
26 LMP2 A.Bertolini, N.Jonsson, T.Krohn Eurasia Motorsport Ligier/Gibson 3m34.062s 45
27 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, T.Dagoneau Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m36.927s 24
28 LMP2 D.Cheng, N.Boulle, P.Nicolet Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m37.463s 51
29 LMP2 M.Patterson, A.D.De Jong, T.Kim Algarve Pro Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m42.404s 51
30 GTE Pro P.Pilet, N.Tandy, E.Bamber Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.121s 39
31 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.859s 45
32 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.862s 45
33 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m51.498s 39
34 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, M.Molina AF Corse Ferrari 3m51.521s 48
35 GTE Pro R.Dumas, T.Bernhard, S.Muller Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m51.695s 42
36 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 3m51.738s 34
37 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m51.776s 37
38 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m51.898s 30
39 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, T.Kanaan Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m52.692s 47
40 GTE Am M.Cairoli, K.Al Qubaisi, G.Roda Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m52.903s 49
41 GTE Pro T.Vilander, A.Giovinazzi, P.Derani AF Corse Ferrari 3m52.944s 51
42 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, M.Fassler Corvette Racing - GM Chevrolet 3m53.048s 47
43 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, M.Rockenfeller Corvette Racing - GM Chevrolet 3m53.397s 46
44 GTE Pro A.Farfus, A.F.da Costa, A.Sims BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m53.677s 43
45 GTE Pro A.Lynn, M.Martin, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.727s 50
46 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, A.Davison Gulf Racing Porsche 3m53.834s 37
47 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 3m53.976s 51
48 GTE Am M.Campbell, C.Ried, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m54.004s 44
49 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 3m54.133s 43
50 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 3m54.527s 41
51 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, N.Thiim, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m54.530s 53
52 GTE Pro M.Tomczyk, N.Catsburg, P.Eng BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m54.663s 39
53 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.792s 42
54 GTE Am B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, L.Stolz Keating Motorsports Ferrari 3m55.845s 38
55 GTE Am Mok W.S., M.Griffin, K.Sawa Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m56.049s 40
56 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 3m56.158s 47
57 GTE Am P.Long, T.Pappas, S.Pumpelly Proton Competition Porsche 3m56.674s 36
58 GTE Am L.Griffin, C.MacNeil, J.Segal JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m57.016s 42
59 GTE Am F.Babini, C.Nielsen, E.Maris Ebimotors Porsche 3m58.059s 39
60 LMP1 O.Rowland, A.Brundle, O.Turvey CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 4m06.812s 7

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Author Jack Cozens
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