24 Hours of Le MansFIA WEC

Le Mans Grid Order Remains the Same amid Rain-Threatened Qualifying Two

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Giancarlo Fisichella was the only driver to mix up a class top three, taking third in GTE AM
Credit: Craig Robertson

The second qualifying session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans held promise of teams trying to beat the benchmarks that were set last night, but these lap times never emerged. The order remains almost exactly the same as it did yesterday, with only ten teams managing to improve since last night. The top threes in each class apart from LM GTE Am remain unchanged, despite the few lap improvements, leaving the teams only one session left to mix up the front of the class grids.

Rain threatened to dispute the two-hours of qualifying, and although there were a few drops reported at the start of the session nothing came of the dark clouds that hovered over the circuit. The track temperature was a lot cooler in this session than it was yesterday. With it not looking to get any warmer before the final chequered flag of the day, there may not be a lot more that teams can do to challenge for class pole.

An incident for the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse with 38 minutes left on the clock saw a premature end to the session. It is unclear at the time of publishing what happened to Giorgio Sernagiotto, but the aftermath of the incident at the first chicane on the Mulsanne Straight showed a lot of debris on track. Due to this, the final qualifying session will start half an hour earlier, at 20:30 BST.

Alonso Optimises Cockpit Time

Fernando Alonso was behind the wheel of the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing for most of the running in qualifying two before his stint was brought to a halt by a red flag, courtesy of Andy Prialux in the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK.

None of the LMP1 cars looked to be setting a fastest lap time, with only the two CEFC TRSM Racing cars managing to improve on yesterday’s time. The Manor-duo are slowly edging closer to the 3:22.505 set by the Bykolles Racing team, but they still look to be heavily lacking in pace. It is assumed that the engine is not at full power, with the team concerned about reliability this weekend. The fastest lap times set by Alex Brundle in the #6 and Michael Simpson in the #5 are starting to match the pace they had at the Le Mans test day.

Improvements in the Mid-Field

LMP2 saw four cars make improvements during the hour and twenty-minute session. The best of these improvements came from Tristan Gommendy in the Graff #40, managing to get the ORECA-running car up to sixth in class with a 3:26.701, pushing the highest placed Ligier, United Autosports #22, down to seventh.

Nicolas Lapierre nearly brought out the second flag of the session after he suffered suspension damage coming through the Ford Chicane. Running heavily over the kerbs on entry to the chicane, the rear snapped, throwing Lapierre out of control of the car. He looked like he had recovered well, but the lack of control over the rear saw him spinning into the gravel as he tried to get onto the start / finish straight. It took him a while to limp the car back to the pits, but he managed to get back with the only issue on circuit being the gravel he had thrown onto the final corner as he spun off.

Incident for Ford, Improvement for Porsche

Nick Tandy said ahead of the session that he believed they could challenge Gianmaria Bruni‘s incredible 3m47s. Whilst the #93 Porsche was the only car to improve in class, it only promoted itself to fifth in class at the hands of Patrick Pilet. With no one showing any impression of going any faster in the last qualifying session, it is assumed that the blistering time Bruni set will claim class pole ahead of the 86th running of Le Mans.

Priaulx got a little out of shape going into Tertre Rouge around fifteen minutes into the start of the session, and ended up going backwards into the tyre barrier taking on severe damage to the #67. He was able to get it back to the pits fairly quickly where it appeared to be superficial damage only. Once the red flag was lifted, it wasn’t long before Priaulx was back out on track in the Ford.

Ferrari go Faster Chasing Class Pole

Two of the three improvements in GTE Am came from Ferrari-running teams. Giancarlo Fisichella was the only driver in any class to alter the top three order, but putting his Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE third in class by half a second.

Last year’s class winning team JMW Motorsport was the other Ferrari to improve, with Jeff Segal taking it to sixth in class. Patrick Long put the Proton Competition ninth with a 3:54.720.

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