Audi Sport has laid down an early challenge to its LMP1 rivals as their cars locked out the podium in the 45 minute warm-up session on the morning of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It was the #9 R18 e-tron Quattro that claimed the top spot early in the session as Marco Bonanomi struck early – thanks to a convenient tow from the #8 of Loic Duval – to set a time of 3:19.423, three seconds off the pole time.
Two-seconds behind in second was the above mentioned #8 with a 3:21.740 placing them ahead of Benoit Treluyer in the #7 by just half a second.
Best of the rest behind the four rings was the #18 Porsche 919 of Romain Dumas who set his fastest lap on the very last lap of the session – a 3:22.729 – to shut out his sister car, the #17 of Mark Webber, who was only one-thousandth of a second behind on 3:22.730.
Splitting the #17 and #19 Porsches was the fastest of the Japanese cars as the #1 Toyota – driven by Sebastien Buemi – set a 3:23.361.
Behind the hybrid LMP1s – not including the Nissans which had only one car set a time, which was good enough for 24th – were the two Rebellions with Nico Prost in the #12 leading Alexandre Imperatori in the #13 across the line.
In LMP2, JOTA Sport claimed the fastest time in that class as Oliver Turvey set a 3:39.559 in his Gibson 015S to put himself ahead of fellow Gibson 015S racer Gary Hirsch in the Greaves Motorsport entry by four-tenths of a second.
Third place, and setting an identical 3:39.960 the Greaves car logged, was the KCMG Oreca 05 peddled by Nico Lapierre in a category that is set to be very competitive come the race. Indeed, with teams working on race set up, the G-Drive Ligier of Roman Rusinov was only 1.5s behind the leading trio and in a good position to challenge.
Now onto GTE Pro and what promises to be a massive battle for the whole 24 hours between Aston Martin and Ferrari with the #97 of Stefan Mucke stunting the prancing horse of Gianmaria Bruni by claiming top spot by only two-tenths .
Behind the front two was another of AF Corse’s fleet of cars with the #71 sitting in third place ahead of the Team Manthey Porsche of Richard Leitz.
It is worth noting that all these cars, as well as the sole remaining Corvette in fifth place, are covered by less than two seconds.
Finally in GTE Am, the session was highlighted by the Larbre Competition Corvette running wide at the Porsche Curves, spinning, and hitting the wall hard. That required slow zones for a time, and has left their participation in the race in doubt after a lot of damage that will take some time to repair.
But back at the front of the class, it was the Abu Dhabi-Proton Porsche that claimed the class behind yet another Ferrari, driven by Francois Perrodo, who himself was ahead of the Patrick Dempsey driven Porsche 991.
Fourth place was Paul Dalla Lana in the Aston Martin, with the above mentioned Corvette in fifth.