Toyota and Corvette factory teams dominated the afternoon session of Le Mans Test Day, the traditional practice session that follows official scrutineering ahead of the 90th 24 Hours of Le Mans next weekend .
Among the Hypercars, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s #7 GR010 HYBRID, shared by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, set the fastest lap in 3m29.896s, with Lopez taking the fastest lap. The #708 Glickenhaus Racing driven by Olivier Pla, Romain Dumas and Pipo Derani was 0.3s behind the leading Hypercar (3m30.104s) while the other Toyota, the #8 Toyota shared by Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, was third, half a second behind the sister car (3m30.822s). The Alpine A480 Gibson driven by André Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere finished seventh overall, around two and a half seconds behind the fastest Toyota, at 3m32.420s.
The session was red-flagged with just seconds remaining after a seemingly innocuous off-course excursion at Mulsanne Corner for the No 7, Lopez completing a circuit of the roundabout and rejoining the pits under the red flag.
In LMP2, the #22 United Autosport ORECA 07 shared by Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Will Owen was fastest in the hands of the Portuguese star in 3m32.099s, nearly 0.3s ahead of the #2 Gibson JOTA ORECA 07. #38 shared by Roberto Gonzalez, Antonio Felix da Costa and Will Stevens (3m32.382s) and 0.8s ahead of sister car #22 driven by Alexander Lynn, Oliver Jarvis and Joshua Pierson (3m32.879s)
The only Ligier entered in LMP2 this weekend was the #27 Gibson CD Sport Ligier JSP217 shared by Christophe Cresp, Michael Jensen and Steven Palette. It was the slowest LMP2 car at 3:42.738 – more than 10 seconds behind the lead car.
Corvette Racing held the position at the top of the GTE-Pro timing screen, the #64 and #63 P1 and P2 Corvette C8.Rs early on. Alexander Sims had opened his account with a 3m54.314s to improve the best of the #64 car by three tenths on the previous session, and in the final hour of the session and still in dry conditions, both cars traded times at the top, shaving a few tenths in the process before a 3m54.001s became the best GTE-Pro time of the day for Sims in the #64 car. Both Corvette crews raced nearly non-stop .
Shane van Gisbergen took a spin at the Ford Chicane in the Ferrari Riley Competition, but the #74 car showed up well, enjoying being top of the AF Corse program for a while.
AF Corse’s approach, however, was generally calm and stealthy. The #52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo hadn’t seen much daylight, but came out of its pits in the third hour when a 3m54.037s from Miguel Molina took the car to the top of the Pro times until Sims brought the No. 64 Corvette back into play. The No. 51 Ferrari only turned seven laps in the first half of the session, besting Alessandro Pier Guidi in 3m54.395 improving the car’s pace by more than a second off its best of the morning session to finish the test fourth in class.
The Porsche GT team from Manthey made up for lost time. Laurens Vanthoor remained in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19, doing all the laps until the safety car period at the end of the second hour brought most of the GTE-Pro field back to the stalls. A 3m54.444 from Kevin Estre would improve the car’s time, but not its prominence. Fred Makowiecki clocked 3m54.263s to put the #91 Porsche in third place.
However, despite this apparent disparity, it should be noted that only half a second covers the entire performance of the GTE-Pro field.
The Danes performed well in GTE-Am. Frederik Schandorff regained his form from the previous session to deliver a 0.7s improvement on his previous record, a class-leading 3m55.115s at the end of the first hour for the #57 Kessel Racing Ferrari of more and more sharpened. Further progress from Mikkel Jensen would deliver the fastest GTE-Am time of the day, 3m54.827s – just 0.3s shy of last year’s Test Day class-best.
Given the strength of Ferrari’s entries in GTE-Am, a 1-2-3 shouldn’t be too surprising. As times started to improve after the safety car period, Renger van der Zande climbed aboard the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, fresh off its IMSA win yesterday. The 3m55.241s for the second fastest time was a statement of intent from the young Cadillac ace spearheading JMW’s pace potential after earlier mishaps.
Spirit of Race was rarely off the pace in today’s practice, with the #71 red car posting solid lap times. Pierre Ragues’ 3m55.241s was a good improvement on the day to put the car third.
Marco Sorensen led the category earlier for TF Sport, Aston Martin’s first pace show. The #33 Vantage AMR posted 3m56.149s to better its Session 1 time as the best of the Aston Martins, that accolade won by Northwest AMR, however, the #98 Aston Martin fourth fastest in its class with a 3m55.591s.
After racing well, Simon Mann’s #21 AF Corse Ferrari found the limit at Indianapolis, the British driver spun and luckily brushed the barrier in a high-speed incident.
Annoying headlight issues interrupted track time for the #71 Spirit of Race Ferrari, while Matteo Cressoni’s #80 Iron Lynx Ferrari punctured a tire and hobbled on the Mulsanne straight after running the third faster. The team’s #56 Project 1 Porsche spent time in the pits to deal with a fuel pressure sensor issue.
The #86 GR Racing Porsche was the last Am car to take to the track in the second half of the session. as Jan Heylen had the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche stuck in the gravel after a spin on the entrance to the Porsche curves, punctured front tires evident and the exit from a safety car period which divided the session launched for its recovery. The #99 Hardpoint Racing Porsche that showed up much earlier was left in its garage with extensive left-rear damage. Repaired, the car achieved its best overall lap on its first flying lap. After showing up much earlier in the day, the #61 AF Corse Ferrari was handed a five-minute stop-and-go penalty for exceeding track limits too often.