Porsche's fleet went 1-2-3 in Wednesday's qualifying session.
Porsche destroyed their direct opposition tonight in the first qualifying session for the 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend.
Completing a dominant 1-2-3 clean-sweep, the Porsche 919 Hybrid deployed its immense 8MJ energy retrieval to set the fastest-ever recorded lap on the current 8.47-mile configuration of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Jani goes quickest
It was a time set by Neel Jani in the black and white No.18 car which claimed a conclusive top spot with a sensational 3m16.887 lap at the very beginning of the two hour night session. The Swiss racer's time confirmed a supreme one lap qualifying spec advantage for Porsche as they enjoyed almost a three-second gap over the nearest Audi R18 e-tron quattro - the No.8 car which managed a 3m19.886s in the hands of Loic Duval.
Jani’s time was all the more remarkable as it was set with some traffic disturbing his rhythm at the second Mulsanne Chicane. The track was also still relatively ‘green’ still from the earlier rain showers.
Second was the No.17 ‘1970 Le Mans winning tribute liveried’ Porsche 919 Hybrid. Timo Bernhard set the time of 3m17.767s just before Jani’s best, while the third placed Porsche time was achieved by the ever impressive Nick Tandy.
The two remaining Audi R18 e-tron quattros filled out the provisional third row with the No.9 car heading the No.7 Audi. Benoit Treluyer ran an impressive late ‘long-run’ effort, but the stint ended with a trip in to the gravel at the second Mulsanne Chicane.
The pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 cars were even further back from the Porsche steamroller. The team did not attempt an all-out qualifying run until after the red-flag period and focused mainly on race preparations. Stephane Sarrazin peaked on a 3m23.543s lap in the No.2 TS 040, some 6.6s away from the ultimate pace.
Nissan completed its first ever qualifying session at Le Mans in 12th, 21st and 32st place overall. The team concentrated on getting the five mandatory night laps for all of its nine drivers.
KCMG rule the roost again in LMP2
LMP2 again saw KCMG top the class with Richard Bradley, as he did in the earlier Free Practice session, setting the best time of 3m38.032s. This was almost a second quicker than the Greaves Gibson-Nissan which was unable to take part in the final thirty minutes of the session following an accident for GT Academy winner Gaetan Palou at Mulsanne Corner. Jon Lancaster had earlier set the 3m38.958s lap for the British squad.
Third in LMP2 was the reigning Le Mans champions JOTA Sport with its Gibson-Nissan. Oliver Turvey continued to impress with another assured performance, claiming the fastest lap for the British team early in the session.
Posting a last ditch 3m39.867s lap for fourth place was Sam Bird in the G-Drive Ligier-Nissan, which he shares with Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal.
Incidents highlight second hour
There had been relatively few incidents in the session until the start of the second hour. Kiril Ladygin suffered a spectacular spin when he put a wheel on the grass on the entrance to Tertre Rouge forty minutes in to the session and sailed through the gravel.
Duncan Cameron also crashed the No.55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia at Mulsanne and was unable to get the car back to the pits. Soon after, Gaetan Palou left the track at Mulsanne Corner, damaging the Greaves Gibson-Nissan and triggering red flag. Rene Rast, in the No.9 Audi, then appeared to spin under red flags at the same corner, but was able to re-join to head pitwards.
There were other spins, excursions and many track limit violations, mainly from the LMGTE Pro contingent, including the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari which had several times deleted for continuous infringements at Tertre Rouge by James Calado.
AMR continues GTE dominance
Aston Martin signed off a successful days work as they again claimed P1 in both LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes. Richie Stanaway once again starred as he set the Pro benchmark with a 3m54.928s lap.
The No.98 Aston Martin Vantage again dominated the Pro Am category with Pedro Lamy opening up a yawning 1.6s gap to the second placed No.83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.
Tomorrow will see two further 120-minute qualifying sessions to set the grid for the race which starts at 15.00 local time this Saturday.
Complete session results
|Cla||No.||Driver||Car / Engine||Time||Delay||Laps||km/h|
|4||8||Lucas di Grassi
|35||98||Paul Dalla Lana
|55||68||Han Chen Chen
|56||67||Jun San Chen