2017 24 Hours of Le Mans: Championship-Leading Toyota Tops the Warm Up


Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota TS050-Hybrid, LMP1, #8, Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima, 24 Hours of Le Mans Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe France © Craig Robertson

The Saturday morning warm up session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans can be one of the most risky sessions of the week. One mistake or incident for the teams during the 45-minute track time could see a lot of pressure and stress on the teams to get the car back to being race ready. This morning, the session was mostly incident free and all 60 cars managed to make it out on track.

The #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing in the hands of Kazuki Nakajima dictated the pace as the session came to a close. Neel Jani in the #1 Porsche had been leading the field, but late improvements from the Toyota team saw the fastest Porsche demoted to third. The two teams had been trading fastest times throughout the session, but Toyota ending with their cars breaking into the 3m18s was a statement of intent.

#26 G-Drive Racing continued as they left off Thursday evening by taking the fastest lap in class. A 3:27.096 lead home the Vaillante Rebellion duo of #13 and #31 respectively. The lap times from qualifying have slowed down as the race approaches, showing that the average laps times in class will probably be 2-3 seconds slower than what was seen in qualifying.

The biggest incident to affect the track was the #17 IDEC Sport catching the barrier at Porsche Curves. Paul Lafargue was hit with oversteer through the narrow section of the Porsche Curves and clipped the barrier, spinning round and ending up in the gravel. The car was able to limp back to the pits but heavy front damage has taken away the quiet morning IDEC were hoping for.

The #23 Panis Barthez Competition and the #39 Graff cars were seen lapping around slowly before diving into the pits. The #23 managed to get back out on track to complete some more running but the #39 was garage bound after its low-power out lap.

Ford Chip Ganassi looked stronger this morning as Scott Dixon put the #69 Team USA car fastest with a 3:51.789. After having their BoP changed this morning, the Porsche GT Team #92 was second fastest, splitting the two American Ford entries in the top three.

The pole-sitting Larbre Competition had a little spin at the Ford Chicane but managed to continue without a detrimental effect on their session. It was the #83 DH Racing Ferrari that topped the Am class time sheet. Aston Martin was not in the top three as the Porsche entries of #86 Gulf Racing and #88 Proton Competition completed the top three positions in class.

With all the practice and qualifying now complete, only the main event remains for the teams this weekend. The 85th 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway at 15:00 EST and will definitely be a race not to miss.