Audi leads Le Mans test day times


The official test day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans ended with Audi Sport Team Joest setting the fastest time overall.

Lucas di Grassi clocked in a 3:21.375s effort aboard the #8 Audi R18 to top the charts after two four hour sessions at La Sarthe.

The Brazilian driver is sharing the car with FIA WEC team-mates Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval who won the previous round at Spa Francorchamps in May.

Second quickest on the test day was the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. A 3:22.270s lap by Webber in the afternoon session put the fastest Porsche 0.895 seconds slower than Di Grassi’s marker.

Neel Jani topped the opening session in the sister Porsche, turning in a 3:22.334s time that was eventually eclipsed in the afternoon. The Swiss driver was joined by team-mates Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas at the test.

Toyota had a disappointing day, with both cars unable to infiltrate the Audis and Porsches on the timing screen. The fastest lap for the TS050s came courtesy of Anthony Davidson, driving the #5 car, who registered a best time of 2:23.917s.

Audi’s low downforce aero kit was effective on the long Mulsanne Straight, pitching the R18 quickest of the hybrids at 206.8 miles per hour.

The fastest cars overall in the speed trap were the AER-engined Rebellion R-Ones, which clocked a high of 208 mph. In terms of lap times, the Rebellions were around six seconds off the pace with the ByKolles Racing CLM-AER a further six seconds adrift.

Eurasia Motorsport led the way in LMP2 (Credit: Nismo Global)

In LMP2, European Le Mans Series outfit Eurasia Motorsport took the fastest lap of the test with its Nissan powered ORECA 05.

Frenchman Tristan Gommendy delivered the key number – a 3:36.690s – in the car he shares with ELMS regulars Pu Jun Jin and Nico de Bruijn.

Gommendy’s lap was 0.707 seconds quicker than the #36 Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan of reigning class champion Nicolas Lapierre, while Rene Rast was a further eight tenths off the pace in the G-Drive Racing ORECA 05.

Le Mans rookie Jake Dennis placed an impressive fourth in the G-Drive entered Gibson 015S-Nissan with a 2:27.581s time, finishing ahead of Manor’s Roberto Merhi.

The GTE-Pro test saw Corvette and Porsche dominate the timing sheets. Neither manufacturer is a full-season entry to the FIA WEC, but both were able to beat the fancied Ferrari 488 GTEs in this initial showing.

Corvette’s Antonio Garcia set a 3:55.122s lap to go quickest on the day, pitching the #63 C7.R 0.280 seconds ahead of the #91 Porsche 911 RSR driven by 2015 overall winner Nick Tandy.

The second Porsche finished third in Pro with the sister Corvette fourth, while AF Corse had to settle for fifth with  James Calado setting a 3:55.900s lap aboard the #51 Ferrari 488.

The #69 Ford GT pedaled by Ryan Briscoe followed up in sixth with a 3:56.039s time. Aston Martin Racing rounded out the manufacturer battle with Nicki Thiim piloting the #95 car to a 3:56.191 marker.

(Credit: Drew Gibson)

Corvette ranked highly in GTE-Am, too, as Larbre Competition stand-in Nicky Catsburg delivered a 3:57.999 aboard the #50 C7.R to go quickest. Catsburg joined veteran Jean-Philippe Belloc in the car as replacements for the injured Paolo Ruberti, with the Dutch driver rumoured to be replacing Larbre’s no.1 for the race itself.

Catsburg led the timing sheets comprehensively, lapping 0.870 seconds ahead of the #55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin.

The Irishman edged out Townsend Bell in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458, placing entries from FIA WEC, ELMS and IMSA in the top three.

Fourth place was occupied by a car from another championship, as Rob Bell drove the Asian Le Mans Series-winning Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458 to a 3:59.300s best.

The second session was brought to a halt with half an hour to go when Oswaldo Negri Jr crashed the Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda at high speed. The Brazilian driver, who raced an MSR-entered Ligier at the IMSA race in Detroit on Saturday, was released from the medical centre without injury.

With the test day complete, attention now turns to the 24 Hours of Le Mans itself. The race week will begin with practice on Wednesday, June 15 while the race will run from June 18-19.

Keep visiting The Checkered Flag for exclusive and extensive Le Mans preview content, plus full text coverage of the event live from the Circuit de la Sarthe.