24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day over - Audi banks the best time
Test Day is over and the competitors for the 24 Hours of Le Mans have a benchmark. The pecking order is established, but it reveals one thing in particular: the race is wide open.
The two Test Day practice sessions take place two weeks before the actual race and are important for the 60 teams to find their feet on the unique circuit. When the session began at 09:00, most teams sent their cars out straightaway to make the most of the allotted time to test their settings and collect data for their technicians and engineers. It only took a few minutes to “rubber in” the track and render the traction optimum and drivers began setting respectable times right from the start. At 09:15 Marcel Fässler set a sub 03:30 lap, which was subsequently beaten by both Romain Dumas and Mark Webber, who ended the morning session on 03:22.555.
In the end Lucas di Grassi clocked the fastest lap in the #8 Audi, on 03:21.375. That is not as quick as Neel Jani’s pole position time of 03:16.887 but it has to be said that last year times improved by four seconds between the Test Day and the qualifying sessions.
Performance aside, the key information to note at the end of this Test Day is that the three favourites are neck and neck. The Toyotas were by no means dazzling, but the fastest is only two seconds behind di Grassi’s best lap. As far as reliability is concerned the #7 Audi seems to have suffered from a jammed shock absorber for several minutes. At the end of the day, it’s difficult to say who of Audi, Porsche and Toyota has the upper hand.
If it is shaping up to be anyone’s race for the overall win, what about LM P2 where every one of the 23 entrants has a chance of taking the class title? Oreca came out on top of the day’s proceedings with Tristan Gommendy’s time of 3:37.397. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Michael Shank Racing ended the day with its Ligier-Nissan going off at the Michelin chicane with Oswaldo Negri Jr at the wheel. The accident brought Test Day to a premature end as the safety barrier could not be repaired within the 30 minutes that remained.
In GTE Pro, all eyes were on the armada of four Fords making their big comeback to Le Mans, but Nick Tandy in a Porsche (3:55.554) stole the limelight. In this class too, the actual race promises to be a hotly disputed affair with 13 cars within two seconds of each other.
Finally, in GTE Am, Larbre Compétition’s Corvette finished the day at the top of the standings. The French team also used Test Day to put two drivers, Jean-Philippe Belloc and Nick Catsburg, through their paces One of them will stand in for Paolo Ruberti, who fractured his spine in a recent accident at Hockenheim.
The next date in the diary for the 180 drivers will be the traditional Scrutineering sessions in Le Mans city centre on 12–13 June. The general public will have an opportunity to get up close to the 60 cars as they arrive in Place de la République where they will be thoroughly examined by the scrutineers.
Test Day results
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About this article
|Event||24 Hours of Le Mans test day|
|Sub-event||Sunday afternoon session|
|Location||Circuit de la Sarthe|
|Drivers||Mark Webber , Jean-Philippe Belloc , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Lucas di Grassi , Kamui Kobayashi , Nick Tandy|
|Teams||Team Joest , Porsche Team Shop Now , Toyota Racing , Larbre Competition , Meyer Shank Racing|