Ahead of the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the official Le Mans Test day took place on Sunday, with Toyota Gazoo Racing finishing the morning session on top with all three of their entrants locking out the top three.
Signatech Alpine set the pace in LMP2, whilst Chevrolet appear to have returned to World Endurance Racing as strong as they were, taking the fastest time in LM GTE Pro. Porsche took the fastest time of the LM GTE Am class with the #77 Proton Racing car.
Toyota took the fastest lap time of the morning’s four-hour session by focusing on fast lap times in the closing half an hour of the session. Kazuki Nakajima set the benchmark with a 3:20.778 that was unrivalled by anyone else. Sebastien Buemi could only reach second fastest in the championship-leading #7 Toyota, finishing the session 1.5 seconds off the time of the sister car. Jose Maria Lopez set the third fastest time of 3:22.006 on his debut around the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Timo Bernhard had been second fastest with the #2 Porsche until Toyota set their fast laps at the end of the session. Bernhard finished around a tenth faster than Andre Lotterer in the #1 Porsche. By not completing fast laps at the end of the session, the Porsche duo finished 2.3 seconds off the pace of the Toyotas.
Andre Negrao was the fastest driver in LMP2, setting the first lap time in that class to break the 3m30s barrier. In the #35 Signatech Alpine, his 3:29.809 put his fastest of the morning session, seven-tenths faster than Mathias Beche. Beche had led most of the session in the #13 Vaillante Rebellion with a 3:30.516. This time, however, also came under threat from European Le Mans Series entrant Graff. Richard Bradley nearly took the second-place spot from Beche in the closing stages, but was unable to find the handful of hundredths of a second to get him any higher than third.
The top thirteen in the LMP2 class were all ORECA-Gibson running cars, with United Autosports being the first non-running ORECA team on the timing board down in P14. This could show that the ORECA-running teams may hold an advantage over the LMP2 field when the 24-hour endurance race gets underway in a fortnight’s time. However, the extra 100bhp that the LMP2 cars have this year has definitely seen an improvement in pace, with the cars setting times seven seconds faster than they were last year in the morning session.
Chevrolet return to the WEC just for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They made the impression that they had come to challenge for the win as they took the fastest LM GTE Pro time of the morning. Porsche GT did not let the fastest lap time go without a bit of competition and were only a couple of hundredths off the final time of the #63 Corvette Racing. Jan Magnussen put the #63 fastest with a 3:55.726, half a second faster than the fastest time set by the sister car.
But Porsche took the advantage in LM GTE Am as Matteo Cairoli put in the best lap time of a 3:59.117. the #77 Proton Racing Porsche finished the session with a 0.1 second advantage on second-fastest Andrea Bertolini in the #83 DH Racing Ferrari.