The 60-car strong 24 Hours of Le Mans field completed their first incident-free session this morning in warm up ahead of the prestigious race. With all the teams taking it easy to make sure the cars are in perfect condition for the start of the race, no impressive lap times were set, but it did give us the first look at how the new BoP may affect the GTE classes.
Toyota Still On Top
Toyota Gazoo Racing took the fastest time of the warm up session, with Kamui Kobayashi putting the #7 on top with a 3:18.687. The Japanese team locked out the front two spots on the timing board, ahead of the privateer entries. The fastest privateer was the #10 DragonSpeed, claiming a 3:23.039 in the hands of Ben Hanley.
The advantage is still clearly with Toyota ahead of the race as they took a 4.352 second advantage on the privateer field. If the two hybrid-powered cars can make it to the end of the race without issues it will be basically impossible for any of the privateers to claim the overall victory from them.
CEFC TRSM Racing managed to get some laps on the board with the #5 car, setting a 3:29.305. However the car only completed two laps and the sister #6 did not leave the garage, with the vibe from the team being that it would have done the car more harm than good if it participated in the morning’s warm up. All the signs are pointing to a tough race for the Manor team.
Dunlop Advantage in LMP2
The Dunlop-tyre running LMP2 cars had the advantage in the first morning session of the weekend, with the top six being locked out by teams racing on Dunlops. This may be a suggestion that in the early morning stages of the race tomorrow, when the track is starting to warm up, the Dunlops may come into their own. Everything learnt in the warm-up has to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it is guaranteed that none of the cars were going flat out, but the indication may be that the early morning running is more suited to the Dunlops.
Ricky Taylor took the fastest lap in class, putting the #34 Jackie Chan DC Racing at the top of the timing board for the first time this weekend. The pole sitting #48 Idec Sport car did not set a time in this session, going out for only six laps to check over the car.
It was great to see the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse was back on track, shaking down their car after it had to have severe repairs following Giorgio Sernagiotto‘s big accident in qualifying two. The car finished fourth in class at the end of the session and will line up 12th in class.
First Signs of BoP Changes in Pro
It will not be clear until the race to see how much of a change has come from the new BoP that was assigned yesterday evening, but the field does appear to be closer from the result of the warm-up session. The whole grid is now covered by about three seconds, whilst the top five are nearly inseparable with only a second covering them.
Ford Chip Ganassi took the top spot at the end of the 45-minutes with the #69 IMSA car, stealing a 3:50.533 to go ahead of the AF Corse Ferraris in the last moments of the session. Ferrari look to have gained from the BoP, now competing with the front runners for fastest laps, but Porsche GT Team cannot be written off as strong favourites.
No one would have been pushing the limits of their cars this session, but it is good to see that Aston Martin Racing seem to be closer to the field after their weight and boost advantages added to the car yesterday. The Pro class is promising the most exciting race at the moment and is definitely the class to keep your eye on, especially with a closer field.
Ferrari now Closer to Porsche after New BoP
The small BoP changes in LM GTE Am seem to have also had a positive impact on the competitiveness of the grid. Whereas if was clearly advantage Porsche, the Ferrari-running teams now look to have been able to close in on the German manufacturer for a tighter race at the front. The Aston Martins do look to still be off the pace a little, but this could be due to the fact the Am driver set the time for this session, rather than a Pro.
The session ended Ferrari, Porsche, Ferrari with the #85 Keating Motorsports car leading the field setting a 3:52.318. The only car to not use any of the warm-up session in class was the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche. Patrick Dempsey said that the pole-sitting car was not garage bound due to an issue, so hopefully it will be fine and ready to go for the race.