Porsche sets incredible pace in Le Mans qualifying

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 
18  Neel Jani Porsche 3'16.887   24 249.200
17  Timo Bernhard
Mark Webber
Brendon Hartley
Porsche 3'17.767 0.880 25 248.091
19  Nico Hülkenberg
Earl Bamber
Nick Tandy
Porsche 3'19.297 2.410 24 246.187
Lucas di Grassi
Loïc Duval
Oliver Jarvis
Audi 3'19.866 2.979 25 245.486
F.Albuquerque
Marco Bonanomi
René Rast
Audi 3'21.081 4.194 27 244.003
Marcel Fässler
André Lotterer
Benoît Tréluyer
Audi 3'21.839 4.952 23 243.086
Alexander Wurz
S.Sarrazin
Mike Conway
Toyota 3'23.543 6.656 23 241.051
Anthony Davidson
Sébastien Buemi
Kazuki Nakajima
Toyota 3'23.767 6.880 25 240.786
12  Nicolas Prost
Mathias Beche
Nick Heidfeld
Rebellion/AER 3'26.874 9.987 20 237.170
10  13  A.Imperatori
D.Kraihamer
Daniel Abt
Rebellion/AER 3'31.933 15.046 14 231.509
11  47  Matt Howson
Richard Bradley
Nicolas Lapierre
ORECA/Nissan 3'38.032 21.145 22 225.033
12  23  Olivier Pla
J.Mardenborough
Max Chilton
Nissan 3'38.468 21.581 18 224.583
13  41  Gary Hirsch
Gaëtan Paletou
Jon Lancaster
Gibson/Nissan 3'38.958 22.071 13 224.081
14  38  Simon Dolan
Mitchell Evans
Oliver Turvey
Gibson/Nissan 3'39.004 22.117 23 224.034
15  26  Roman Rusinov
Julien Canal
Sam Bird
Ligier/Nissan 3'39.867 22.980 22 223.154
16  46  Pierre Thiriet
Tristan Gommendy
Ludovic Badey
ORECA/Nissan 3'39.923 23.036 22 223.098
17  34  Chris Cumming
Laurens Vanthoor
Kévin Estre
Ligier/HPD 3'40.058 23.171 21 222.961
18  Simon Trummer
Pierre Kaffer
Tiago Monteiro
CLM/AER 3'40.368 23.481 20 222.647
19  36  N.Panciatici
Paul-Loup Chatin
V.Capillaire
Alpine/Nissan 3'40.438 23.551 23 222.576
20  28  Gustavo Yacamán
Luis Derani
Ricardo González
Ligier/Nissan 3'40.967 24.080 19 222.044
21  22  Harry Tincknell
Michael Krumm
Alex Buncombe
Nissan 3'41.400 24.513 18 221.609
22  43  Pierre Ragues
Oliver Webb
Zoel Amberg
Morgan/SARD 3'42.015 25.128 19 220.995
23  29  Leo Roussel
David Cheng
Ho-Pin Tung
Morgan/Nissan 3'42.023 25.136 19 220.987
24  27  Maurizio Mediani
Devi Markozov
N.Minassian
BR Engineering/Nissan 3'42.077 25.190 20 220.934
25  42  Nick Leventis
Danny Watts
Jonny Kane
Dome/Nissan 3'42.237 25.350 19 220.775
26  37  Mikhail Aleshin
Kirill Ladygin
Anton Ladygin
BR Engineering/Nissan 3'42.417 25.530 17 220.596
27  48  Karun Chandhok
Mark Patterson
N.Berthon
ORECA/Nissan 3'44.513 27.626 5 218.537
28  30  Scott Sharp
Ryan Dalziel
David Hansson
Ligier/HPD 3'44.675 27.788 20 218.379
29  40  Tracy Krohn
Nic Jönsson
João Barbosa
Ligier/Judd 3'44.899 28.012 20 218.161
30  45  Pierre Perret
Ivan Bellarosa
José Ibanez
ORECA/Nissan 3'45.350 28.463 22 217.725
31  21  Tsugio Matsuda
M.Shulzhitskiy
Lucas Ordóñez
Nissan 3'45.807 28.920 9 217.284
32  31  Ed Brown
J.van Overbeek
Jon Fogarty
Ligier/HPD 3'46.165 29.278 21 216.940
33  35  Jacques Nicolet
Jean-Marc Merlin
Erik Maris
Ligier/HPD 3'52.843 35.956 21 210.718
34  99  Fernando Rees
Alex MacDowall
Richie Stanaway
Aston Martin 3'54.928 38.041 21 208.848
35  98  Paul Dalla Lana
Pedro Lamy
Mathias Lauda
Aston Martin 3'55.102 38.215 20 208.694
36  51  Gianmaria Bruni
Toni Vilander
G.Fisichella
Ferrari 3'55.306 38.419 20 208.513
37  97  Darren Turner
Stefan Mücke
Rob Bell
Aston Martin 3'55.466 38.579 20 208.371
38  95  Marco Sørensen
C.Nygaard
Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin 3'55.783 38.896 22 208.091
39  63  Jan Magnussen
Antonio García
Ryan Briscoe
Chevrolet 3'55.963 39.076 20 207.932
40  83  François Perrodo
Emmanuel Collard
Rui Águas
Ferrari 3'56.723 39.836 22 207.265
41  64  Oliver Gavin
Tommy Milner
Jordan Taylor
Chevrolet 3'57.081 40.194 20 206.952
42  91  Richard Lietz
M.Christensen
Jörg Bergmeister
Porsche 3'57.192 40.305 20 206.855
43  71  Davide Rigon
James Calado
Olivier Beretta
Ferrari 3'57.216 40.329 23 206.834
44  72  Viktor Shaitar
Andrea Bertolini
Aleksey Basov
Ferrari 3'57.271 40.384 18 206.786
45  92  Patrick Pilet
F.Makowiecki
Wolf Henzler
Porsche 3'57.667 40.780 22 206.441
46  88  Christian Ried
K.Al Qubaisi
Klaus Bachler
Porsche 3'58.259 41.372 22 205.928
47  61  Peter Mann
R.Giammaria
Matteo Cressoni
Ferrari 3'58.478 41.591 22 205.739
48  77  Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Long
Marco Seefried
Porsche 3'58.822 41.935 22 205.443
49  62  Bill Sweedler
Townsend Bell
Jeff Segal
Ferrari 3'58.946 42.059 21 205.336
50  53  J.Bleekemolen
Ben Keating
Marc Miller
SRT/Dodge 3'59.054 42.167 20 205.244
51  55  Duncan Cameron
Matt Griffin
Alex Mortimer
Ferrari 3'59.091 42.204 19 205.212
52  50  Gianluca Roda
Paolo Ruberti
Kristian Poulsen
Chevrolet 3'59.522 42.635 16 204.842
53  66  A.Al Faisal
Kuba Giermaziak
Michael Avenatti
Ferrari 4'00.551 43.664 21 203.966
54  96  Roald Goethe
Stuart Hall
F.Castellacci
Aston Martin 4'01.160 44.273 20 203.451
55  68  Han Chen Chen
Gilles Vannelet
Mike Parisy
Porsche 4'03.117 46.230 17 201.813
56  67  Jun San Chen
Alex Kapadia
Xavier Maassen
Porsche 4'04.827 47.940 13 200.404
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About this article
Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Sub-event Wednesday qualifying
Track Le Mans
Drivers Neel Jani , Nic Jönsson
Teams Porsche Team
Article type Qualifying report