Le Mans 24h: Toyota takes 1-2 in practice

The #7 Toyota led the way in Le Mans 24 Hours practice, with a late improvement from Sebastien Buemi in the sister #8 car securing the manufacturer a session 1-2.

Jose Maria Lopez had recorded a 3m19.626s lap aboard the #7 TS050 Hybrid with around an hour of the four-hour session remaining, but that effort was trumped with 10 minutes left by Kamui Kobayashi, who lowered the benchmark by another nine tenths.

His eventual best of 3m18.718s was more than two and a half seconds faster than the best time set at the test day earlier this month, which two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso managed in the sister #8 car.

Buemi moved the #8, which had spent the majority of the session outside the top three, up to second with a 3m19.275s on his final lap.

His effort dislodged the #3 Oreca-built Rebellion R-13 from second, although Thomas Laurent did improve that car's time on his final lap to end the session 0.708 seconds off the pace in third.

Laurent had stopped the car on track in the final hour, but was able to recover to the pits and returned to the track to complete the session.

Ben Hanley ended up fourth in the DragonSpeed and best of the BR1 cars, finishing almost a second faster than the #11 SMP Racing entry.

The #1 Rebellion of Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Bruno Senna ended up sixth ahead of the second SMP car, with the sole ByKolles car eighth and five seconds off the pace.

Manor's pair of Ginetta G60-LT-P1s endured a troubled session.

The #5 car stopped on track in the first five minutes of the session, although did return to the track to set a fastest time of 3m25.203s, while the sister #6 car propped up the overall timesheets after completing just seven laps.

Its running was cut short as the team began to replace its engine in the final hour.

G-Drive sets the pace in LMP2

Jean-Eric Vergne underlined G-Drive Racing's status as LMP2 pre-race favourite by topping the timesheets by over half a second.

The Frenchman, sharing the #26 TDS Racing-entered Oreca 07 which Alex Lynn qualified on pole last year with Andrea Pizzitola and Roman Rusinov, was the only driver under the 3m27s bracket, clocking a 3m26.529s in the final hour of the session.

#26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson: Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola, Jean-Eric Vergne, Alexandre Imperatori
#26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson: Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola, Jean-Eric Vergne, Alexandre Imperatori

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Paul-Loup Chatin's early benchmark of 3m27.054s in the #48 IDEC Sport Oreca was good enough for second in class, ahead of the second TDS Racing car, the #28 example driven by Loic Duval.

Oreca filled the top five positions in class, with a late effort from Le Mans debutant Paul di Resta aboard the #22 United Autosports Ligier putting him best of the rest behind Nathanael Berthon's DragonSpeed car and Tristan Gommendy's Graff-SO24 entry, albeit still 1.755s off the pace.

Several LMP2 runners hit trouble in the session, including the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Nabil Jeffri, who had an incident at Indianapolis and did not return to the circuit.

The #47 Villorba Corse Dallara which set a lap good enough for eighth in the hands of Felipe Nasr early on stopped at the second chicane with a left-rear puncture, although Giorgio Sernagiotto managed to get back to the pits.

Porsche controls GTE

Porsche led the way in GTE Pro, locking out the top three places in class.

Laurens Vanthoor set the fastest time halfway into the session with a 3m50.859s in the 'Pink Pig'-liveried #92 Porsche 911 RSR, which remained the benchmark until the final 20 minutes - when Patrick Pilet took over at the top in the #93 car with a 3m50.121s. 

#93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber, Dirk Werner
#93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber, Dirk Werner

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Gianmaria Bruni was third in the Rothmans-themed #91 Porsche, a further 0.003s back.

Best of the rest was Olivier Pla in the #66 Ford GT, 1.377s off the pace, followed by the best of the AF Corse Ferraris, the #71 machine of Miguel Molina just 0.023s behind.

Porsche's fourth entry, the #94, was sixth fastest in the hands of Romain Dumas, followed by the second of the Ferraris and the remaining three Fords.

Corvette, BMW and Aston Martin all endured a low-key session, filling out the bottom six places in class between them.

After Aston Martin was handed a boost in the latest round of Balance of Performance changes, the lead Vantage GTE was 15th-fastest, 3.606s off the pace, one place behind the quicker of the BMW M8 GTEs.

Porsche likewise topped the times in GTE-Am, as Matteo Cairoli posted a best of 3m52.903s in the #88 Dempsey-Proton car to beat Ben Barker in the #86 Gulf Racing machine by 0.931s.

Ex-F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella was the best of the non-Porsches in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari, a little over a tenth further back, fractionally clear of the second Dempsey-Proton car.

Additional reporting by James Newbold

Full results:

Pos.#CarClassLapsTimeGap
1 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid LM P1 54 3'18.718  
2 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid LM P1 55 3'19.275 0.557
3 3 Rebellion R13 LM P1 39 3'19.426 0.708
4 10 BR Engineering BR1 LM P1 44 3'20.322 1.604
5 11 BR Engineering BR1 LM P1 47 3'21.304 2.586
6 1 Rebellion R13 LM P1 46 3'21.549 2.831
7 17 BR Engineering BR1 LM P1 46 3'21.557 2.839
8 4 ENSO CLM P1/01 LM P1 37 3'23.795 5.077
9 5 Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LM P1 15 3'25.203 6.485
10 26 Oreca 07 LM P2 52 3'26.529 7.811
11 48 Oreca 07 LM P2 37 3'27.054 8.336
12 28 Oreca 07 LM P2 51 3'27.817 9.099
13 31 Oreca 07 LM P2 36 3'28.178 9.460
14 39 Oreca 07 LM P2 10 3'28.218 9.500
15 22 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 43 3'28.284 9.566
16 37 Oreca 07 LM P2 24 3'29.135 10.417
17 40 Oreca 07 LM P2 32 3'29.204 10.486
18 47 Dallara P217 LM P2 41 3'29.214 10.496
19 35 Dallara P217 LM P2 44 3'29.793 11.075
20 23 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 43 3'30.168 11.450
21 36 Alpine A470 LM P2 24 3'30.750 12.032
22 38 Oreca 07 LM P2 38 3'30.922 12.204
23 32 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 50 3'31.056 12.338
24 29 Dallara P217 LM P2 48 3'31.465 12.747
25 34 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 42 3'31.837 13.119
26 44 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 45 3'34.062 15.344
27 50 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 24 3'36.927 18.209
28 33 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 51 3'37.463 18.745
29 25 Ligier JSP 217 LM P2 51 3'42.404 23.686
30 93 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Pro 39 3'50.121 31.403
31 92 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Pro 45 3'50.859 32.141
32 91 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Pro 45 3'50.862 32.144
33 66 Ford GT LM GTE Pro 39 3'51.498 32.780
34 71 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LM GTE Pro 48 3'51.521 32.803
35 94 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Pro 42 3'51.695 32.977
36 51 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LM GTE Pro 34 3'51.738 33.020
37 68 Ford GT LM GTE Pro 37 3'51.776 33.058
38 69 Ford GT LM GTE Pro 30 3'51.898 33.180
39 67 Ford GT LM GTE Pro 47 3'52.692 33.974
40 88 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Am 49 3'52.903 34.185
41 52 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LM GTE Pro 51 3'52.944 34.226
42 64 Chevrolet Corvette C7R LM GTE Pro 47 3'53.048 34.330
43 63 Chevrolet Corvette C7R LM GTE Pro 46 3'53.397 34.679
44 82 BMW M8 GTE LM GTE Pro 43 3'53.677 34.959
45 97 Aston Martin Vantage AMR LM GTE Pro 50 3'53.727 35.009
46 86 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Am 37 3'53.834 35.116
47 54 Ferrari 488 GTE LM GTE Am 51 3'53.976 35.258
48 77 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Am 44 3'54.004 35.286
49 56 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Am 43 3'54.133 35.415
50 90 Aston Martin Vantage LM GTE Am 41 3'54.527 35.809
51 95 Aston Martin Vantage AMR LM GTE Pro 53 3'54.530 35.812
52 81 BMW M8 GTE LM GTE Pro 39 3'54.663 35.945
53 98 Aston Martin Vantage LM GTE Am 42 3'55.792 37.074
54 85 Ferrari 488 GTE LM GTE Am 38 3'55.845 37.127
55 61 Ferrari 488 GTE LM GTE Am 40 3'56.049 37.331
56 70 Ferrari 488 GTE LM GTE Am 47 3'56.158 37.440
57 99 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Am 36 3'56.674 37.956
58 84 Ferrari 488 GTE LM GTE Am 42 3'57.016 38.298
59 80 Porsche 911 RSR LM GTE Am 39 3'58.059 39.341
60 6 Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LM P1 7 4'06.812 48.094
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About this article
Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Track Circuit de la Sarthe
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi
Teams Toyota Racing
Article type Practice report