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Toyota concedes Le Mans is Porsche's to lose after test 1-2

Toyota believes that victory in this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours is Porsche’s to lose after the German manufacturer topped the times in the pre-event Test Day on Sunday.

#12 Hertz Team Jota Porsche 963: William Stevens, Norman Nato, Callum Ilott, #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

David Floury, Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director, claimed that the performance of the three-car Porsche Penske Motorsport squad over the six hours of running ahead of the double-points round of the World Endurance Championship means that they would have underperformed if they don't win.

“I think it’s clear: I would think if Porsche doesn’t win they have done a pretty bad job,” he said after the conclusion of the test.

“They have the edge in every aspect from what we can see.

“We will see more during the week [when practice and qualifying begins on Wednesday], but clearly Porsche is looking strong.”

Asked if Porsche’s performance during the Test Day was a surprise given its form so far in the WEC this year and the Balance of Performance for the Le Mans event published last week, Floury replied: “No surprise.”

Floury questioned whether Ferrari and Cadillac showed their true pace over the course of the test in which their best cars ended up fifth and 16th respectively, but added that he expected BMW to be in the fight after it made it into the top six in both morning and afternoon sessions.

“Behind Porsche, it should be a good fight behind,” he said.

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

PPM ended up 1-2 in the times at the official Le Mans test on the full 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe and also took fourth spot.

Kevin Estre was quickest in the #6 Porsche 963 LMDh on a 3m26.907s set early in the afternoon session, while the additional entry from the North American arm of the PPM squad competing in the IMSA SportsCar Championship took second spot.

Nick Tandy put the car into P2 with 3m27.356s before Felipe Nasr improved to 3m27.142s in the closing stages of the afternoon session.

The third PPM entry finished fourth in the times behind the #8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar.

Brendon Hartley posted a 3m27.615s in the Japanese car, which compared to Michael Christensen’s 3m27.773s in the fourth-placed Porsche.

Porsche has played down any status as the pre-race favourite heading into Le Mans week.

Urs Kuratle, who heads up the LMDh programme at Porsche Motorsport, said: “We will be in the mix, we will be there, but whether we are favourites or not, I am not sure.

“We are in the mix with a lot of other cars, which is a nice thing for the whole sport — I am really looking forward to this race.”

Kuratle stressed that Porsche could not be sure if the other manufacturers exploited their full potential during the Test Day.

“All we know is that we made our programme and that was the result of it, but we are not dreaming to be so much ahead [in the race].”

Free practice for the 92nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours begins at 14:00 local time on Wednesday, 12 June, with first qualifying following at 19:00.

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