The 60 cars due to take the start of the 84th running of the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship have now completed eight hours of practice on the 13.6km Circuit des 24 Heures track.
Here are the highlights from the afternoon session:
Audi Sport’s Lucas Di Grassi set the fastest time of the day just before the half way mark of the afternoon session. The No.8 R18 lapped the track in a time of 3:21.375.
The gaps between the Porsches and No.7 Audi were very tight behind the WEC 6 Hours of Spa winner, with the two Toyota TS050 HYBRIDS – running with their Le Mans aero kits for the first time – in close contention.
Rebellion Racing’s No.13 R-One AER continued to lead its team mate and ByKolles Racing, the latter giving Pierre Kaffer plenty of seat time as he makes his return to the WEC for the first time this season.
It remains extremely close between all the LMP2 competitors, with Signatech Alpine, the No.26 G-Drive Racing and the second G-Drive entry (No.38) in close succession behind ELMS entrant Eurasia Motorsport. Manor and KCMG both put in strong performances – the first on its debut at Le Mans and the second on its return to the LMP2 category.
After technical issues kept both the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTEs (No.51 and 71 in LMGTE Pro) in the garage for long periods this morning, the two were running more smoothly in the afternoon session. Gimmi Bruni’s No.51 was the fastest of the WEC entrants, 5th in the category with only one second separating the top ten in class.
Chevrolet Corvettes topped the time sheets in LMGTE Pro and Am, with WEC entrant Larbre Competition stopping the clocks at 3:57.999 to set the fastest time of the day in the Am class. The No.50 Corvette C7 ZO6 was circulating in the hands of Yutaka Yamagishi, Pierre Ragues and – for this test day, in place of the injured Paolo Ruberti - Nicky Catsburg and Jean-Philippe Belloc.
There was one red flag period to extract the Krohn Racing entry from the gravel, and the session was concluded 28 minutes early after another LMP2 competitor impacted the barriers hard which required repairs taking longer than the time available.
Intensive preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 18/19): the two Audi R18 spooled off a total of 138 laps during the official test day at Le Mans.
Audi is prepared for the toughest race of the year – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 13.629 kilometer long race track is only closed off for the test day and race week. “For this reason it’s even more important to use this time productively. We started the test day with detailed programs,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. The two Audi R18 completed a total of 138 laps in France. This equates to 1,881 kilometers. Lucas di Grassi (BR), who starts with Loïc Duval (F) and Oliver Jarvis (GB), set a 3m 21.375s lap to record the fastest time of the day with the start number ‘8’. His advantage: 0.895 seconds.
The sister car of Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) lost about two hours in the afternoon due to changing a damper on the front axle and finished fourth. “Nevertheless, we achieved some important targets and are already well advanced with the set-up of our race cars,” said Dr. Ullrich. The race week begins for Audi on June 13 with technical scrutineering in the Le Mans city center, the 24-hour race starts on June 18.
The Porsche Team has used the official pre-test to set up the two Porsche 919 Hybrids for the 24-Hour marathon on June 18/19. Today provided the only opportunity to test on the 13.629 kilometre long Circuit de la Sarthe. The track includes 9.2 kilometres of what are normally public country roads. This part includes the famous Mulsanne straight on which the 900 HP strong Porsche Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1) go significantly over 320 km/h.
The fastest lap in a Porsche 919 Hybrid, 3:22.270 minutes, was achieved by Mark Webber shortly after noon. The Australian shares the car with Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ). Being the reigning FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) champions, of which the Le Mans 24 Hours is the ultimate highlight, the trio’s car carries the number 1. With a lap time of 3:22.334 minutes Neel Jani was on the same level of speed in the number 2 sister car.
The Swiss leads the drivers’ standings in the WEC together with teammates Romain Dumas (FR) and Marc Lieb (DE). Especially in the beginning of the day, the track was slippery, but, unlike last year, it stayed dry. In total the two Porsche 919 Hybrids completed 173 laps (2,357.8 km) in seven and a half hours. The afternoon session was red flagged with 30 minutes to go at 17:30 hours for repairs to the heavily damaged guard rail following an accident. The day’s best time went to the number 8 Audi (3:21.375 minutes).
Full results can be found HERE.