Toyota Fastest as Dempsey Proton Hit Issues

by Alice Holloway
Toyota Gazoo Racing led the way in the practice session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Toyota Gazoo Racing reigned supreme as the chequered flag fell on the practice session of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, whilst last minute improvements caused massive shifts in the GTE Pro class order. Dempsey-Proton Racing brought out the sole red flag of the session, causing a 45-minute delay.

Rebellion Racing and SMP Racing tried to give Toyota a run for their money in the four-hour practice session, but Kamui Kobayashi stole the fastest lap overall in the closing moments of the session. His 3:18.091 took the #7 Toyota racing car to the top of the timing board by 1.840 seconds.

Stoffel Vandoorne and Gustavo Menezes managed to split the two Toyotas by around a second, with the two lapping within two hundreds of a second of each other on their fastest lap. It will be interesting to see if this competitiveness remains come this evening’s first qualifying session.

The European Le Mans Series IDEC Sport #48 stole top honours in the LMP2 class, after claiming P1 in class with a 3:28.363. They went fastest than the #31 DragonSpeed in the hands of Pastor Maldonado who had led most of the session competitively with a 3:28.730.

The top three in LMP2 was rounded up by #26 G-Drive Racing. Jean-Eric Vergne set an early 3:28.893 that remained unbeatable by anyone by Maldonado until the closing stages improvement from Paul-Loup Chatin.

Championship leaders #92 stayed at the top of the timing board after late improvements throughout the Pro class
Credit: Race Photography

The GTE Pro class had been dominated by Ford Chip Ganassi and Porsche GT Team until the red flag. Stefan Mucke was out of the gate after the track was deemed green again, jumping to P2 in the class to make it a Porsche-Ford-Ford at the top. Only as the sun streamed onto the track in the final hour did the rest of the grid’s improvements come and lap times begin to tumble.

Class championship leaders #92 Kevin Estre and Michael Chirstensen held out at the top of the class with Laurens Vanthoor, leading the way with their 3:52.149. However the last moment dashes saw the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship #94 and AF Corse #71 climb into the top three for the chequered flag.

Dempsey-Proton Racing were the cause of both the delays to the session, with the #88 going off at the Porsche Curve bringing out localised yellows for a few minutes, and the #99 bringing out a 45-minute red flag after an incident at the second chicane on the Mulsanne Straight.

Tracy Krohn was at the wheel of the car when it lost control, but the cause for the incident is unknown at the time of publishing. Whether the car will return to the track for the qualifying session this evening is yet to be confirmed.

Last year’s class winners in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing, however, led the way in the class, sealing the top spot with a 3:55.304. The #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari was second, with Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda rounding up the top three in their Aston Martin Racing #98.

The #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing car was the only one not to have an incident during practice.
Credit: Race Photography

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