Le Mans 24h: Nakajima grabs provisional pole for Toyota

Kazuki Nakajima took provisional pole aboard the #8 Toyota he shares with Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi in Wednesday's first qualifying session for the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours.

With the threat of rain on Thursday looming, as well as good visibility and low track temperatures early in the two-hour session, the leading LMP1 contenders set their best times on their first flying laps.

It took just one fast lap for the practice benchmark set by the sister Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Jose Maria Lopez to be obliterated, with the Formula E driver's 3m19.626s lap comprehensively beaten by Nakajima's 3m17.270s tour.

Nakajima's time remained untouched for the remaining one hour and 52 minutes, with the #7 Toyota falling short of the #8 car's benchmark lap by just 0.107s, although the leading car had several laps deleted for excessive fuel consumption late on.

Buemi then took over from Nakajima before Alonso completed his mandatory five laps in night-time conditions.

Stephane Sarrazin took the #17 SMP Racing BR1 to third, the first of the non-hybrid privateers, and its 3m19.483s lap put it 2.213s adrift of the leading Toyota.

The two Rebellion R-13s were fourth and fifth in class with the #1 car in the hands of Bruno Senna edging out the #3 machine by just 0.283s, with its time set by Gustavo Menezes.

Renger van der Zande caused a slow zone midway through the session when he stopped the #10 DragonSpeed BR1 before the Dunlop Chicane, forcing a recovery of the car after it had set a time good enough for sixth.

Jenson Button completed his mandatory laps aboard the #11 SMP Racing BR1 that went on to provisionally secure seventh in the hands of Vitaly Petrov.

The ByKolles team dropped to eighth after it had two of its laptimes set by Tom Dillmann deleted for excessive fuel consumption.

Manor-Ginetta continued to struggle after it was forced to change an engine in the #5 car following electric problems and it delayed its participation in qualifying. 

It took 44 minutes for Mike Simpson to take the #5 car on track before a late improvement in the final six minutes from Leo Roussel lifted it to ninth in class and 11th overall provisionally, almost seven seconds off the leading non-hybrid LMP1 pace.

The sister #6 car was significantly slower, finishing back in 23rd overall after Williams F1 young driver Oliver Rowland set its best time.

IDEC Sport leads Oreca LMP2 sweep

The #48 IDEC Sport Oreca claimed provisional pole in LMP2, courtesy of a 3m24.956s from Paul-Loup Chatin, as Oreca swept the top five positions. 

 

#48 IDEC Sport Oreca 07 Gibson: Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin, Memo Rojas
#48 IDEC Sport Oreca 07 Gibson: Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin, Memo Rojas

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Loic Duval in the #28 TDS Racing Oreca was one of the few drivers able to complete two flying laps before a spin for Gianmaria Bruni's pace-setting GTE Pro Porsche brought out the yellow flags, so took an early advantage before 2014 European Le Mans Series champion Chatin edged ahead by 0.284s.

The Frenchman was the only driver in the top six able to dip under his original time, leaving Duval second, ahead of practice pace-setter Jean-Eric Vergne in the TDS-run #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca, 1.491s off the pace. 

Pastor Maldonado was fourth quickest in the #31 DragonSpeed car, ahead of two-time class-winner Nicolas Lapierre for Signatech-Alpine.

Filipe Albuquerque was the best of the rest in the #22 United Autosports Ligier, which survived a trip through the gravel in Paul di Resta's hands late in the session.

#91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni, Frédéric Makowiecki
#91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni, Frédéric Makowiecki

Photo by: Scott R LePage / LAT Images

Porsche tops GTE qualifying

Porsche provisionally locked out the front row in GTE Pro with its pair of retro-inspired 911 RSRs.

Bruni demolished the class practice benchmark on his first flying lap with a remarkable 3m47.504s effort in the Rothmans-liveried car, putting himself 1.593s clear of the opposition.

He subsequently went off at the Dunlop Chicane on his very next lap, ending the #91's session early - but the Italian's time went unbeaten for the remainder of the session.

Bruni's nearest challenger was Michael Christensen, who set a 3m49.097s in the 'Pink Pig' #92 Porsche to go less than a tenth clear of Olivier Pla in the best of the Ganassi-run Ford GTs, the #66.

Dirk Muller made it a provisional all-Ford second row in the #68 car, four tenths further back, while Alessandro Pier Guidi's opening effort in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari proved good enough for fifth ahead of the two CORE autosport-run IMSA Porsches.

BMW enjoyed a more competitive first qualifying session after struggling in practice, as Antonio Felix da Costa managed to get the #82 M8 GTE up to ninth in class with a time 3.075s off Bruni's pace.

Aston Martin on the other hand continued to suffer, its pair of Vantage GTEs ending up 16th and 17th. Alex Lynn's best time in the #97 car was almost five seconds slower than that of Bruni.

Both Aston Martins, as well as the two Corvettes, were slower than the quickest car in GTE Am, the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Matteo Cairoli.

The Italian driver was 1.202s clear of Matt Campbell in the sister Dempsey-Proton car, with Ben Barker making it a trio of Porsches out front in the #86 Gulf Racing car.

Best of the non-Porsches was again the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari with Giancarlo Fisichella at the wheel.

Additional reporting by James Newbold

Full results:

Pos.#DriversCarClassLapsTimeGap
1 8 spain Fernando Alonso 
japan Kazuki Nakajima 
switzerland Sébastien Buemi 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 31 3'17.270  
2 7 japan Kamui Kobayashi 
united_kingdom Mike Conway 
argentina Jose Maria Lopez 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 33 3'17.377 0.107
3 17 france Stéphane Sarrazin 
russia Matevos Isaakyan 
russia Egor Orudzhev 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 24 3'19.483 2.213
4 1 germany Andre Lotterer 
brazil Bruno Senna 
switzerland Neel Jani 
Rebellion R13 LMP1 26 3'19.662 2.392
5 3 switzerland Mathias Beche 
france Thomas Laurent 
united_states Gustavo Menezes 
Rebellion R13 LMP1 27 3'19.945 2.675
6 10 sweden Henrik Hedman 
netherlands Renger van der Zande 
united_kingdom Ben Hanley 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 13 3'21.110 3.840
7 11 united_kingdom Jenson Button 
russia Vitaly Petrov 
russia Mikhail Aleshin 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 29 3'21.408 4.138
8 4 united_kingdom Oliver Webb 
austria Dominik Kraihamer 
france Tom Dillmann 
ENSO CLM P1/01 LMP1 24 3'22.505 5.235
9 48 france Paul-Loup Chatin 
mexico Memo Rojas 
france Paul Lafargue 
Oreca 07 LMP2 19 3'24.956 7.686
10 28 france Loic Duval 
france François Perrodo 
france Matthieu Vaxiviere 
Oreca 07 LMP2 26 3'25.240 7.970
11 5 france Leo Roussel 
united_kingdom Mike Simpson 
united_kingdom Charlie Robertson 
Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LMP1 20 3'26.246 8.976
12 26 france Jean-Eric Vergne 
russia Roman Rusinov 
france Andrea Pizzitola 
Oreca 07 LMP2 29 3'26.447 9.177
13 31 venezuela Pastor Maldonado 
france Nathanael Berthon 
mexico Roberto Gonzalez 
Oreca 07 LMP2 18 3'26.508 9.238
14 36 france Nicolas Lapierre 
france Pierre Thiriet 
brazil Andre Negrao 
Alpine A470 LMP2 28 3'26.681 9.411
15 22 united_kingdom Paul di Resta 
portugal Filipe Albuquerque 
united_kingdom Philip Hanson 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 24 3'26.772 9.502
16 37 malaysia Nabil Jeffri 
malaysia Weiron Tan 
malaysia Jazeman Jaafar 
Oreca 07 LMP2 26 3'27.468 10.198
17 47 brazil Felipe Nasr 
italy Roberto Lacorte 
italy Giorgio Sernagiotto 
Dallara P217 LMP2 28 3'27.993 10.723
18 38 china Ho-Pin Tung 
monaco Stéphane Richelmi 
france Gabriel Aubry 
Oreca 07 LMP2 27 3'27.999 10.729
19 29 netherlands Jan Lammers 
netherlands Giedo van der Garde 
netherlands Frits van Eerd 
Dallara P217 LMP2 30 3'28.556 11.286
20 35 russia Viktor Shaytar 
france Norman Nato 
united_kingdom Harrison Newey 
Dallara P217 LMP2 28 3'28.629 11.359
21 23 united_kingdom Will Stevens 
france Julien Canal 
france Timothé Buret 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 27 3'29.421 12.151
22 39 france Vincent Capillaire 
france Tristan Gommendy 
switzerland Jonathan Hirschi 
Oreca 07 LMP2 29 3'29.860 12.590
23 6 united_kingdom Oliver Turvey 
united_kingdom Alex Brundle 
united_kingdom Oliver Rowland 
Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LMP1 17 3'30.339 13.069
24 32 colombia Juan Pablo Montoya 
united_states  William Owen 
switzerland Hugo De Sadeleer 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 26 3'30.347 13.077
25 40 mexico Jose Gutierrez 
france Enzo Guibbert 
australia James Allen 
Oreca 07 LMP2 21 3'31.291 14.021
26 44 italy Andrea Bertolini 
united_states Tracy Krohn 
sweden Nic Jönsson 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 30 3'33.532 16.262
27 34 denmark David Heinemeier Hansson 
united_states Ricky Taylor 
france Côme Ledogar 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 20 3'33.755 16.485
28 33 china David Cheng 
united_states Nicholas Boulle 
france Pierre Nicolet 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 23 3'35.237 17.967
29 50 france Thomas Dagoneau 
france Romano Ricci 
france Erwin Creed 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 20 3'38.206 20.936
30 25 united_states Mark Patterson 
korea_republic_of Tacksung Kim 
netherlands Ate de Jong 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 28 3'44.177 26.907
31 91 italy Gianmaria Bruni 
austria Richard Lietz 
france Frédéric Makowiecki 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 2 3'47.504 30.234
32 92 denmark Michael Christensen 
france Kevin Estre 
belgium Laurens Vanthoor 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 23 3'49.097 31.827
33 66 germany Stefan Mücke 
france Olivier Pla 
united_states Billy Johnson 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 26 3'49.181 31.911
34 68 france Sébastien Bourdais 
united_states Joey Hand 
germany Dirk Müller 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 22 3'49.582 32.312
35 51 united_kingdom James Calado 
italy Alessandro Pier Guidi 
brazil Daniel Serra 
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 26 3'49.854 32.584
36 94 france Romain Dumas 
germany Timo Bernhard 
germany Sven Muller 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 21 3'50.089 32.819
37 93 united_kingdom Nick Tandy 
france Patrick Pilet 
new_zealand Earl Bamber 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 18 3'50.261 32.991
38 67 united_kingdom Harry Tincknell 
brazil Tony Kanaan 
guernsey Andy Priaulx 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 24 3'50.429 33.159
39 82 portugal Antonio Felix da Costa 
brazil Augusto Farfus 
united_kingdom Alexander Sims 
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 24 3'50.579 33.309
40 69 australia Ryan Briscoe 
new_zealand Scott Dixon 
united_kingdom Richard Westbrook 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 21 3'50.593 33.323
41 81 netherlands Nick Catsburg 
germany Martin Tomczyk 
austria Philipp Eng 
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 26 3'50.596 33.326
42 71 united_kingdom Sam Bird 
italy Davide Rigon 
spain Miguel Molina 
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 27 3'50.669 33.399
43 88 united_arab_emirates Khaled Al Qubaisi 
italy Matteo Cairoli 
italy Giorgio Roda 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 25 3'50.728 33.458
44 63 denmark Jan Magnussen 
spain Antonio Garcia 
germany Mike Rockenfeller 
Chevrolet Corvette C7R LMGTE PRO 23 3'50.789 33.519
45 64 switzerland Marcel Fassler 
united_kingdom Oliver Gavin 
united_states Tommy Milner 
Chevrolet Corvette C7R LMGTE PRO 27 3'50.952 33.682
46 77 germany Christian Ried 
australia Matt Campbell 
france  Julien Andlauer 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 23 3'51.930 34.660
47 52 brazil Pipo Derani 
finland Toni Vilander 
italy Antonio Giovinazzi 
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 27 3'52.112 34.842
48 97 united_kingdom Jonathan Adam 
belgium Maxime Martin 
united_kingdom Alex Lynn 
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 26 3'52.486 35.216
49 86 united_kingdom Michael Wainwright 
united_kingdom Ben Barker 
australia Alex Davison 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 24 3'52.517 35.247
50 54 italy Giancarlo Fisichella 
italy Francesco Castellacci 
switzerland Thomas Flohr 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 27 3'52.756 35.486
51 56 germany Jörg Bergmeister 
united_states Patrick Lindsey 
norway Egidio Perfetti 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 19 3'52.985 35.715
52 85 netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 
united_states Ben Keating 
germany Luca Stolz 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 18 3'54.000 36.730
53 98 portugal Pedro Lamy 
canada Paul Dalla Lana 
austria Mathias Lauda 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 26 3'54.307 37.037
54 84 united_states Jeff Segal 
united_kingdom Liam Griffin 
united_states Cooper MacNeil 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 24 3'54.384 37.114
55 95 denmark Marco Sorensen 
denmark Nicki Thiim 
united_kingdom Darren Turner 
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 26 3'54.780 37.510
56 70 monaco Olivier Beretta 
  Motoaki Ishikawa
italy  Eddie Cheever III 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 26 3'54.951 37.681
57 61 ireland Matt Griffin 
singapore Mok Weng Sun 
japan Keita Sawa 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 28 3'55.076 37.806
58 80 france Erik Maris 
denmark Christina Nielsen 
italy Fabio Babini 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 21 3'55.569 38.299
59 90 turkey Salih Yoluc 
united_kingdom Euan Hankey 
ireland Charlie Eastwood 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 21 3'55.661 38.391
60 99 united_states Patrick Long 
united_states Tim Pappas 
united_states Spencer Pumpelly 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 12 4'03.107 45.837
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About this article
Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Track Circuit de la Sarthe
Drivers Kazuki Nakajima
Teams Toyota Racing
Article type Qualifying report