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

The #7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi struck late to set the pace in practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours

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

Kobayashi hit the front with less than two minutes of the four-hour session remaining, clocking a 3m18.091s aboard the TS050 HYBRID he shares with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez to deny the #11 SMP Racing car top spot.

But the session was a scruffy one for the #7 crew, with Kobayashi going off at Mulsanne corner while light rain fell, and Lopez having a moment on the approach to the pitlane then later going through the runoff area at the Dunlop chicane.

Stoffel Vandoorne had put SMP's #11 BR Engineering-AER BR1 top with half an hour remaining, but his time ended up 1.840 seconds shy of Kobayashi's on a rapidly drying track.

Ex-McLaren Formula 1 driver Vandoorne's 3m19.931s time was a mere 0.029s faster than that set by Gustavo Menezes, whose 3m19.960s lap in the Rebellion-Gibson R-13 he shares with Thomas Laurent and Nathanael Berthon had stood as the benchmark for much of the session.

Menezes posted that effort moments before a red flag was shown when GTE Am driver Tracy Krohn crashed the #99 Porsche 911 RSR an hour and 40 minutes into the four-hour session.

Krohn had a hefty shunt on the run between the second chicane and Mulsanne corner, leaving a significant amount of debris across the track.

It took around an hour for the Porsche to be recovered to the pits, while the clean-up process delayed running by the best part of 45 minutes.

An update from the World Endurance Championship via Twitter said Krohn had been taken to hospital for precautionary checks but that he was "conscious and in good spirits".

The length of the delay allowed a heavy rain shower to hit the circuit before the session restarted, which appeared to have made the likelihood of any drivers improving slim.

But the sun broke through the clouds in the final hour of session and helped dry the track to the point where slicks tyres were a viable tyre choice once more.

The second Toyota ended the session fourth thanks to a 3m20.941s lap set by Fernando Alonso, who was the first driver from the #8 car's line-up to take to the track.

Kazuki Nakajima looked on course to improve on that time with his final lap, but his effort was thwarted by a yellow flag being shown in the final sector caused by Erwin Creed's spinning #50 Larbre Competition Ligier.

The #1 Rebellion was fifth, 3.166s off the pace, ahead of the #17 SMP car.

DragonSpeed's BRE-Gibson BR1 and the solo ByKolles ENSO CLM-Gibson P1/01 brought up the rear of the LMP1 order, lapping 6.355s and 9.752s off the pace respectively.

LMP2

IDEC Sport set the fastest time in the LMP2 class, as Paul-Loup Chatin's late effort in the #28 ORECA usurped Pastor Maldonado's earlier benchmark.

Jonathan Hirschi had been the first driver to break under the 3m30s bracket in the #39 Graff ORECA, but as track conditions improved, his time was subsequently beaten by Maldonado's #31 DragonSpeed ORECA and the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA of Jean-Eric Vergne.

Following the rain shower, it took until the final 15 minutes for anyone to challenge Maldonado's time, but 2018 polesitter Chatin's 3m28.363s was enough to pip the one-time Formula 1 grand prix winner by 0.367s.

Pierre Thiriet was another late mover in the #36 Signatech-Alpine, bumping Nyck de Vries in the best non-ORECA - the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara - down to sixth in class.

The car had a few spins in the hands of team owner Frits van Eerd, including a worrying moment on the exit of the first chicane, but crucially managed not to sustain any damage.

The best-placed Ligier ended the session in seventh, as Filipe Albuquerque moved the #22 United Autosports example up the order in the dying moments after a spell in the garage having an engine oil pump replaced.

GTE

Porsche took a one-two in the GTE Pro division, with Michael Christensen's early lap of 3m52.149s in the #92 911 RSR surviving a late flurry of improvements on the drying track to stand as the top time of the session.

Mathieu Jaminet made a late jump up the order in the #94 Porsche, 0.315s off the pace of Christensen, while Sam Bird was third-fastest in the best of the Ferrari 488 GTEs, the #71 machine.

Stefan Mucke was the quickest of the Fords in fourth, having briefly gone second in the black-and-white retro-liveried #66 GT, ahead of James Calado in the second of the factory AF Corse-run Ferraris and Augusto Farfus in the top BMW M8 GTE.

The late improvements shuffled down the #67 Ford, which had been second at the red flag, all the way down to seventh, ahead of the remaining two Porsches and the top Corvette C7.R.

Aston Martin's top Vantage GTE was 11th.

In GTE Am, the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Julien Andlauer led the way on a 3m55.304s.

That was enough to beat the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella by 0.382s, while Pedro Lamy was only another 0.028s behind in the #98 Aston Martin.

Practice times

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m18.091s - 48
2 LMP1 V.Petrov, M.Aleshin, S.Vandoorne SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m19.931s 1.840s 30
3 LMP1 T.Laurent, N.Berthon, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m19.960s 1.869s 34
4 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m20.941s 2.850s 47
5 LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m21.257s 3.166s 30
6 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, S.Sirotkin SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m22.431s 4.340s 31
7 LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 3m24.446s 6.355s 15
8 LMP1 T.Dillmann, O.Webb, P.Ruberti ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/Nissan 3m27.843s 9.752s 32
9 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, M.Rojas Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.363s 10.272s 28
10 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, A.Davidson DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 3m28.730s 10.639s 13
11 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.van Uitert, J-E.Vergne G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m28.893s 10.802s 25
12 LMP2 T.Gommendy, V.Capillaire, J.Hirschi Graff ORECA/Gibson 3m28.959s 10.868s 19
13 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 3m29.978s 11.887s 22
14 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, N.de Vries Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 3m30.611s 12.520s 30
15 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m30.862s 12.771s 26
16 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, S.Richelmi, G.Aubry Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m30.893s 12.802s 29
17 LMP2 R.Cullen, A.Brundle, W.Owen United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m31.299s 13.208s 34
18 LMP2 D.H.Hansson, J.King, R.Taylor Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m31.416s 13.325s 35
19 LMP2 N.Jamin, P.Ragues, R.Dumas Duqueine Engineering ORECA/Gibson 3m31.416s 13.325s 33
20 LMP2 R.Binder, J.Canal, W.Stevens Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m31.951s 13.860s 27
21 LMP2 D.Zollinger, A.Pizzitola, J.Falb Algarve Pro Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m32.138s 14.047s 26
22 LMP2 A.Fjordbach, D.Andersen, M.Beche High Class Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m32.353s 14.262s 30
23 LMP2 R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, A.Belicchi Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara/Gibson 3m33.009s 14.918s 20
24 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m34.483s 16.392s 18
25 LMP2 J.Farano, A.Maini, N.Nato RLR M Sport/Tower Events ORECA/Gibson 3m34.823s 16.732s 23
26 LMP2 J.Smiechowski, J.Winslow, N.Moore Inter Europol Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m36.237s 18.146s 16
27 LMP2 M.Konopka, H.Enqvist, K.Tereschenko ARC Bratislava Ligier/Gibson 3m36.241s 18.150s 35
28 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, N.Boulle Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m38.171s 20.080s 27
29 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m52.149s 34.058s 20
30 GTE Pro S.Muller, M.Jaminet, D.Olsen Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m52.464s 34.373s 21
31 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, M.Molina AF Corse Ferrari 3m52.743s 34.652s 25
32 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m52.778s 34.687s 19
33 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 3m52.844s 34.753s 20
34 GTE Pro A.Farfus, A.F.da Costa, J.Krohn BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m52.969s 34.878s 30
35 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, J.Bomarito Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m53.027s 34.936s 17
36 GTE Pro P.Pilet, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m53.157s 35.066s 22
37 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m53.182s 35.091s 25
38 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, M.Rockenfeller Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m53.343s 35.252s 33
39 GTE Pro M.Martin, A.Lynn, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.802s 35.711s 29
40 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.904s 35.813s 29
41 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m54.055s 35.964s 17
42 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m54.189s 36.098s 22
43 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, M.Fassler Corvette Racing Chevrolet 3m54.198s 36.107s 31
44 GTE Pro N.Catsburg, M.Tomczyk, P.Eng BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m54.258s 36.167s 28
45 GTE Am M.Campbell, C.Ried, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m55.304s 37.213s 21
46 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 3m55.686s 37.595s 28
47 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m55.714s 37.623s 31
48 GTE Am L.Prette Jr., P.Prette, V.Abril Proton Competition Porsche 3m56.046s 37.955s 20
49 GTE Am S.Hoshino, G.Roda, M.Cairoli Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m56.282s 38.191s 29
50 GTE Pro P.Derani, O.Jarvis, J.Gounon Risi Competizione Ferrari 3m56.429s 38.338s 12
51 GTE Am J.Segal, R.Baptista, W.Lu JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m57.017s 38.926s 21
52 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, T.Preining Gulf Racing Porsche 3m57.137s 39.046s 20
53 GTE Am M.Gostner, R.Frey, M.Gatting Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m57.463s 39.372s 32
54 GTE Am T.Kimura, K.Cozzolino, C.Ledogar CarGuy Racing Ferrari 3m57.480s 39.389s 29
55 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 3m57.991s 39.900s 26
56 GTE Am C.MacNeil, T.Vilander, R.Smith WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 3m58.280s 40.189s 18
57 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 3m58.326s 40.235s 26
58 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 3m58.522s 40.431s 24
59 GTE Am L.P.-Companc, M.Griffin, M.Cressoni Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m58.933s 40.842s 21
60 GTE Am B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, F.Fraga Keating Motorsports Ford 3m59.660s 41.569s 15
61 GTE Am C.Schiavoni, S.Pianezzola, A.Piccini Kessel Racing Ferrari 3m59.948s 41.857s 27
62 GTE Am P.Long, T.Krohn, N.Jonsson Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 4m00.472s 42.381s 8



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Toyota adamant SMP can challenge it for Le Mans 24 Hours pole
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