24 Hours of Le MansFIA WEC

24 Hours of Le Mans: First Night Practice Belonged to Glickenhaus

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#35 ULTIMATE / Oreca 07 - Gibson - 24 hours of Le Mans - Circuit de la Sarthe - Le Mans - France -
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

Reiterating their position as ‘rivals of Toyota Gazoo Racing‘ for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Glickenhaus Racing ended the first night session of the week fastest. Toyota took second and third, with Brendon Hartley charging in the #8 three tenths off the pace setter Romain Dumas.

It wasn’t the most dramatic session for the Hypercars, with Dumas setting the benchmark time of 3:28.900. He took the leading position early on in the session and wasn’t challenged for the top spot by time the chequered flag fell. As this was the first night session of the week, teams and drivers were focusing on getting a feel for their cars in the cooler temperatures of the evening and collecting important data that will see them through the middle seven hours of the race.

The Alpine Elf Team struggled again to stay on pace with its fellow Hypercars, 3.6s off the pace of Dumas. Even in qualifying it struggled to be in the fight at the front, 2.6s off Kamui Kobayashi in the #7. It is looking like, on pace, it will be a two team race for the top step of the podium.

Rene Rast kept the trend of WRT being fastest in LMP2 after his team mate Robin Frjins took the faster class lap in qualifying. After the slower start to the weekend the team seem to be back on the form they have showed so far this season and are certainly in contention to be the ones to beat come Saturday. But it will not be a walk in the park, as United Autosports were once again on their rear win, with the fastest time set by the #22 only two tenths off the reigning class Le Mans winners.

Dries Vanthoor made it a Team WRT one-three with a final lap improvement, going just under a tenth faster than the Cool Racing trio. The #37 had held third in class for most of the two hour session, but was beaten at the last and had to settle for fourth. #9 Prema Orlen Team rounded off the class top five, meaning the top five cars in class were covered by four tenths of a second.

After their engine troubles that kept them out of qualifying, Vector Sport managed to make it out for most of the night session with all three drivers getting to set Le Mans night laps. Unfortunately the #45 Algarve Pro Racing was undergoing a complete rebuild with only the monocoque seeming to have survived the first practice impact. As the team are trying to rebuild, there is a chance it will make it back on the track for the race.

The #43 Inter Europol Competition and the #83 AF Corse joined the list of LMP2 cars to suffer issues this week with a suspension failure causing the #43 to stop on the main straight and a clutch issue holding the #83 in the garage for the first hour of running.

#64 CORVETTE RACING / Chevrolet Corvette C8.R - 24 hours of Le Mans - Circuit de la Sarthe - Le Mans - France -
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

The battle for fastest in GTE Pro came at the start of the session; the top three fastest laps of the class were set in the opening 20 minutes of track action. Nick Catsburg led the charge in the #63 Corvette Racing with a 3:53.492, two tenths up on second placed Frederic Makowieki in the #91 Porsche GT Team. Tommy Milner closed out the top three, making it the second practice session of the 24 Hours of Le Mans to feature two Corvettes in the top three.

AF Corse seemed to struggle on pace, with both works cars at the bottom of the class. Both cars were over a second off Catsburg, while the #74 Riley Motorsport seems to be handling the Balance of Performance (BoP) changes better, finishing fourth in class ahead of the second Porsche. The AF Corse trios will be trying to find some pace ahead of Hyperpole tomorrow, but it’s likely they’re holding out hope on another BoP shift before lights out on Saturday.

Porsches led the way in GTE AM with #46 Team Project 1 a tenth faster than the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing. #98 Northwest Aston Martin Racing finished up the top three, with the Iron Dames car once again best of the Ferraris in fourth.

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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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