24 Hours of Le MansFIA WEC

24 Hours of Le Mans: Fassbender Crashes at Mulsanne During Qualifying

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#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing on track at Le Mans
Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

The first hour of qualifying has confirmed two thirds of the grid, whilst the top six in each class will be decided tomorrow during Hyperpole. Michael Fassbender took the #93 Proton Racing out of contention for a Hyperpole appearance with a big crash on the Mulsanne Straight, bringing out the sole red flag of the session.

With only five cars in the class, all of the Hypercars were guaranteed an appearance in Hyperpole as long as they set a lap time. It was touch and go for the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing which spent the first half of the session in the garage with right rear repairs. Helped slightly by the red flag, Brendon Hartley set one sole lap in the dry before the rain came, 13 seconds off the pace but importantly, had a lap time on the board.

Returning to the top of the class, Robin Frijns set the fastest lap of LMP2, a lap time that wasn’t challenged throughout the 45 minutes of running (the final 15 minutes all but lost to rain fall). The usual FIA World Endurance Championship suspects of United Autosports, JOTA, Realteam by WRT and Prema Orlen Team filled the top six, taking the Hyperpole spots for tomorrow. The Pro/Am team of TDS Racing / Vaillante put in a great showing with Mathias Beche setting a time good enough for fourth in class and looking like a Pro/Am was going to make it into Hyperpole. Unfortunately for the team, a track limits breech saw them lose their times, dropping them to the back of the grid.

After their incidents in first practice, Vector Sport nor the #45 Algarve Pro managed to make it out on track, failing to set lap times. They will start right at the back of the field with TDS, having it all to do during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

#92 Porsche GT Team on track at the Circuit de la Sarthe
Credit: Porsche Newsroom

Disputing difficulties of Balance of Performance (BoP), Laurens Vanthoor put the #92 Porsche GT Team at the top of the GTE Pro timing board with a 3:50.999. It was still close between the Porsche and #63 Corvette Racing, and if things stay as they are BoP wise, expect the pair to be battling hard for pole position.

The pattern of Porsche-Corvette continued for third and fourth in class, Frederic Makowiecki outpacing Nick Tandy, with the AF Corse duo completing the top six. #52 was ahead of a recovering #51 after the issues they had in first practice. The Le Mans only entry Riley Motorsport Ferrari will be the only Pro car not to take part in Hyperpole tomorrow.

The big news from GTE Am was Fassbender’s crash coming into the Mulsanne Chicane. He was on a flying lap when he lost the rear of his Porsche, spinning into the right hand barrier. The car spun around, coming to a stop in the run off area. The red flag was thrown due to extensive damage on the barriers and the need to get a recovery truck onto the track to move the car. Although there was a lot of damage on the front of the Porsche it is hoped that the #93 can be fixed and still take part in the race.

Despite the BoP shift earlier today, Ferrari had four of the six GTE Am cars that made it through to Hyperpole. A great lap from Nicki Thiim saw the #98 Northwest Aston Martin Racing fastest of the Hyperpole qualifiers by nearly a second. Ferraris took second through fourth with Kessel Racing, #54 AF Corse and the all-female Iron Dames entry, defending from the Spa-winning #77 Dempsey Proton Racing. The final spot in Hyperpole was secured by #61 AF Corse after Marco Sorensen‘s time in the #33 TF Sport was deleted due to a track limits violation.

Pole positions will be decided tomorrow in Hyperpole where the full starting grid for the 90th 24 Hours of Le Mans will be confirmed.

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The Checkered Flag’s correspondent for the FIA World Endurance Championship. Working in motorsport as a hobby and as a professional, Alice is a freelance digital communications manager, video editor and graphic designer at OrbitSphere. She also runs and manages her own YouTube channel - Circuit The World - with videos on gaming, travel, motorsports and reviews.
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