2017 24 Hours of Le Mans: G-Drive Tops ORECA-Dominated LMP2


#26 G-Drive Racing © Craig Robertson/Speed Chills

Alex Lynn saw that the #26 G-Drive Racing would start on LMP2 pole position for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. It came as a lap out of the blue as the main battle for pole was between CEFC Manor TDS Racing, Jackie Chan DC Racing and Vaillante Rebellion. The qualifying sessions and the practice sessions have revealed that those teams running the ORECA 07-Gibson package may have an advantage over the other chassis as it has, so far, been the chassis to beat.

It was in the closing moments of the final qualifying session that Lynn climbed aboard the #26 to set his fastest flying lap. He took pole position with a 3:25.352 with his closest rival two-tenths off his pace. The top four of the LMP2 grid is made up of four different teams, showing that still at this point in the season the class is closely competitive on pace.

Ho Pin Tung in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car looked to be the favourite for pole position in the LMP2 class. He finished the Qualifying Two session fastest and dictated the pace of the Qualifying Three session for most of it. Bruno Senna in the #31 Vaillante Rebellion had been the closest to challenging to take pole position from Tung but could never find the last few tenths to go faster.

Manor Racing had been the ones to watch in the first Qualifying session as Jean-Eric Vergne and Vitaly Petrov swapped fastest laps at the top of the board. It was not to be for the Manor team, however, and their best efforts saw them qualify second with the #25. The #24, that had held onto provisional pole for a time, lost out as the second Rebellion, #13, demoted it to sixth in class.

Even in the closing stages of the session, the Rebellion #31 team could not find the few tenths to go faster than the #38, meaning that the Jackie Chan DC Racing team lines up third on the grid.

The biggest talking point in the LMP2 class was about the chassis choices of the teams and how the ORECA 07 chassis seemed to be much more competitive around the Circuit de la Sarthe. The top ten was nearly exclusively ORECA-running cars until a late dash from the #27 SMP Racing saw a Dallara-running car sneak into the top ten, qualifying tenth. The lap time of the #27 was 2.5 seconds off the pace of pole sitter Lynn.

Some incidents interupted the track action, but all of the cars got out and qualified during yesterday’s sessions. The biggest incident was from the #33 Eurasia Motorsports in Qualifying Two. Erik Maris had a moment going through the Forza Motorsport Chicane (Mulsanne Chicane One) and made heavy impact with the Armco barriers on the outside of the circuit. The barriers did their job as Maris was able to climb out of the car unscathed and sent to the medical centre for a routine check. However, the barrier repair put a 50-minute delay on the Qualifying Two session. Not a lot of time was lost as the session end time was pushed back by half an hour to try and recover some of the track time lost.