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January 22, 2023

The list of cars that will take part in tomorrow’s Hyperpole session at Le Mans has been drawn up after Wednesday evening’s one-hour qualifying session at La Sarthe. The top six in each of the four classes have claimed a chance to go head-to-head in tomorrow’s short penalty shootout to decide the top three rows on the grid in each class for Saturday’s race.

Leading the Le Mans Hypercar, the five cars entered did not need to set lap times in this session as they all qualified for the shootout by default. Nevertheless, Kamui Kobayashi set a time of 3m27.247 to break the record for the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID, before rain arrived halfway through after a red flag stop.

Kobayashi’s time was just a tenth on the first of two Glickenhaus 007 LMHs, with Oliver Pla setting the No. 708’s best time – a 3m27.355s to move up to second overall.

Third was the Glickenhaus sister, with the Alpine fourth. The second Toyota, meanwhile, saw its operation significantly reduced after the team was forced to change its right rear suspension. This meant the No.8 failed to set a dry time and finished 29th overall after a 3m40.842s set by Sébastien Buemi.

Frijns finished fifth overall for WRT to lead the LMP2 class. Motorsport footage

In LMP2, WRT, JOTA, United Autosports and Prema have all run cars at Hyperpole. The fastest at the time was Robin Frijns in the No. 31 WRT ORECA. His 3m29.898 was good enough for fifth place overall and a few tenths ahead of the other riders.

Antonio Felix da Costa’s best effort places the n°38 JOTA ORECA in second position, ahead for example of the Realteam by WRT which finished third after Norman Nato’s stint. The two ORECA United will take part in the Hyperpole, with the n°23 ahead of the n°22 in fourth and fifth position, as will the Prema Orlen ORECA who was the last runner-up to qualify.

There were a few notable teams that couldn’t squeeze through the shootout in the huge LMP2 field. The ORECA Penske, n°32 WRT and n°28 JOTA did not set fast enough times. The Richard Mille Racing and #65 Panis Racing cars also narrowly missed out, finishing seventh and eighth in the standings.

Vanthoor pushed Porsche ahead of Corvette ahead of tomorrow’s shootout. Rainier Ehrhardt/Motorsport Images

In the field of seven GTE Pro cars, only one car missed Hyperpole – the #74 Riley Motorsports Ferrari, which was 3.1 seconds off the pace. That means all six factory GTE Pro cars passed. The #92 Porsche dominated the session after Laurens Vanthoor clocked 3m50.999s. It was a tenth ahead of Antonio Garcia, who came closest to the #63 Corvette, and nearly 0.4 seconds faster than Frederic Makowiecki. The Frenchman was in first place at the start of the session when the first wave of lap times were set in the #91 Porsche, before dropping back to third.

All of the best times came in the first half of the hour, when a pit stop for the #93 Porsche Proton caused a red flag period that lasted until it started to rain.

It was Michael Fassbender who caused the stoppage. The Irishman had a bad time before the first Mulsanne Chicane, losing the rear and veering head-on into the armco. causing heavy frontal damage. At the start he got going again but he had to stop off the circuit later in the lap causing the stoppage. Luckily he was fine after the blow and was heard on the team radio explaining that a “heavy” front puncture prevented him from continuing.

This incident froze order in all four classes. In Am, Northwest AMR ran the fastest with Nicki Thiim in 3m52.559s, almost a second ahead of the rest of the drivers in the category. Behind them, the #57 Kessels, the #54 AF Corses, the #85 Iron Dames and the #61 488 GTE AF Corse won, finishing second, third, fourth and sixth respectively. The No.77 Porsche Dempsey Proton, which won the last WEC race at Spa, divided the Ferraris as Harry Tincknell’s 3m54.224 put the 911 RSR fifth.

Just outside the top six were Porsche GR Racing, Project 1 and WeatherTech Racing.


NEXT: Free practice 2, which is due to start at 22:00 local time.

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