Under the beautiful afternoon sun that lit up the Circuit de la Sarthe, the weekend of the Centenary 24h of Le Mans, the fourth seasonal event of the FIA World Endurance Championship, has officially begun.
Free Practice 1 saw the protagonists start preparing not only for Saturday-Sunday’s race, but also for Qualifying which this evening will decide the best 8 of each Class worthy of going to play for tomorrow’s Hyperpole.
During the 180′ available there were accidents and the first to break a cold sweat was Robin Frijns with the Oreca 07-Gibson #31 of Team WRT, who finished very wide at ‘Tertre Rouge’ rubbing the bodywork on the left side. Mirko Bortolotti also suffered some damage shortly afterwards, forced to return to the pits with the rear wing wobbling on his Oreca #63 after the Prema Racing driver had touched the walls.
Worse was the case for Louis Prette, who spun at the ‘Ford Chicane’ and crashed the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari after only two laps and then stopped for the rest of the practice due to damage. In the same variant, Olli Caldwell also lost control on the #35 Alpine LMP2, returning to the pits.
But the worst incident took place 1h30′ from the start, when Casper Stevenson crossed towards ‘Tertre Rouge’ hitting to the left and remaining stationary on the trajectory. Several cars behind him managed to avoid the #777 D’Station Racing/TF Sport Aston Martin, but Steven Thomas came full speed ahead, hitting the Tower Motorsports/TDS #13 Oreca in full force. Drivers unharmed, but 07-Gibson will have to change the chassis.
The marshals inevitably waved red flags and the session stopped for a good 30′, necessary to repair the barriers and clean up the track from the debris and wreckage of the two vehicles.
At the restart, Claudio Schiavoni went off the track with the Iron Lynx Porsche #60 and Chandler Hull spun at the first chicane with Walkenhorst’s Ferrari #100, then Nicolas Varrone’s mistake with the #33 Corvette to ‘Tertre Rouge’ which causes the last red flag at 3’30” with an early finish.
#2 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R by Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, Richard Westbrook
Photo by: Marc Fleury
In the Hypercar class, the Toyotas set the pace, taking the lead almost immediately and then improving in the last half hour thanks to the times set by Brendon Hartley and Kamui Kobayashi. The New Zealander sets the benchmark in 3’27″742 with the GR010 Hybrid #8, followed by +0″133 by the #7 of the Japanese.
The finale also smiles at Cadillac and Porsche. The #3 V-Series.R of Chip Ganassi Racing moved up to third by less than two tenths with Earl Bamber, placing himself behind the #75 963 of Felipe Nasr and the #6 of Kévin Estre, as well as the Peugeots.
The 9X8s had been on the virtual podium for a long time, however managing to finish in sixth (#94) and seventh (#93) place, despite both wasting some time to solve some problems in the pits.
The best of the Ferrari 499Ps is the #50, eighth thanks to Antonio Fuoco who finishes 0″966 from the top, followed by the Cadillac #3 of Chip Ganassi Racing and the Porsche #5 of Team Penske who complete the top 10 in the category. keeping behind the Glickehnaus #709 and the Ferrari #51 (+2″103).
The second Glickenhaus (#708) finished 13th in front of the Porsche #38 of Jota and the Cadillac #311 of Action Express Racing, bringing up the rear at +7″181 the Vanwall of ByKolles Racing.
#28 Jota Oreca 07 – Gibson by David Heinemeier Hansson, Oliver Rasmussen, Pietro Fittipaldi
Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt
In the LMP2 class, the lead goes to Jota with Oreca #28 in 3’34″579, just 0″032 ahead of Cool Racing’s #37, which sets the best time in the PRO/AM category. All the others further back, with Prema #63 third at +1″8, Alpine #36 and Inter Europol Competition #34 in the Top5.
Team WRT has the #31 sixth, followed by two other PRO/AMs, namely the #14 from Nielsen Racing and the #923 from Racing Team Turkey. Vector Sport #10 and Duqueine #30 close the Top10 of the lot, followed by DKR Engineering #43 which is fourth PRO/AM.
In the general standings, behind all the LMP2s, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by Hendrick Motorsport/Garage56 is in 41st place, lapping in 3’49″475.
#55 GMB Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR by Gustav Dahlmann Birch, Marco Sørensen, Jens Reno Müller
Photo by: Eric Le Galliot
The NASCAR adapted for the occasion by the American team goes faster than the LMGTE AM, where the Aston Martin #55 of GMB Motorsport leads in 3’55″020, 0″3 better than the Porsche #86 of GR Racing and the Vantage # 72 of TF Sport.
Top5 for the Porsches of Proton Competition (#16) and Iron Lynx (#60) with just over half a second behind, sixth is the Aston Martin #98 of NorthWest AMR-Heart Of Racing, the first of the Ferraris is 488 #83 of AF Corse branded Richard Mille which posts the seventh fastest time at +0″786 thanks to Alessio Rovera, ahead of the Porsche #85 of the Iron Dames and #88 of Proton Competition, with the Aston Martin #25 of ORT By TF tenth .
At 7.00 pm the Qualifications are scheduled, lasting 60′.
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