Sunday 5 June 2016

24 Hours of Le Mans 2016 - Audi fastest at the end of Test Day

Porsche seemed to dominate the testday for a long time, but ultimately it was Audi who put in the fastest lap around the 13,629 km long Le Mans track under the eyes of 23.200 spectators around the track. 

Porsche dominated the LMP1 class in the morning, Neel Jani setting the fastest time with a 3.22.334. Mark Webber was second fastest in the #1 sistercar 919 Hybrid, 0.221 seconds slower than Jani. Audi took third and fourth, about 0.2 seconds behind Mark Webber. Both Toyota's, for the first time in their low downforce aero kit, followed the Audi's closely, Davidson being only 0.4 seconds behind the second R18. Rebellion Racing was fastest in the privateer class, 6.4 seconds ahead of the ByKolles rivals. 

In LMP2 the #36 Signatech Alpine and Eurasia #33 were almost a second faster than the competition. After 4 hours and 49 laps, the Alpine was 0.146 seconds faster that the Eurasia Oreca/Nissan. Manor confirmed their strong result from Spa and came in third, just under a second behind the Alpine. The #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca lead the rest of the field, though 0.8 seconds slower than the #44 Manor. Oreca occupied the top 6 in LMP2, best of the rest was the SMP Racing #27 BR01. 

As in LMP1, Porsche also put in the fastest times in GTE-Pro, the #92 Porsche 911 RSR ahead of the #91 sister car, separated by half a second. Corvette took third with the #64 ahead of the #02 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488. All teams in the top 4 are racing the IMSA WeatherTech Championship in the States. First "European" team were WEC runners AF Corse in the #51 Ferrari, followed by the second Corvette. Despite getting an improved BoP, all 4 Ford GT's were down the order in 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th, separated by the first Aston Martin (#95). 

GTE-Am was AF Corse's playground; the green #55 Ferrari 458 Italia running on top of the timesheets for almost the whole session. The #62 Scuderia Corsa second fastest at 0.112 seconds ahead of the #98 Aston Martin. 

The afternoon session was cut short when Ozz Negri Jr had a nasty off in the #49 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JSP2/Honda. Negri went hard into the barriers just before the second chicane on the Hunaudieres straight. He got out of the car unharmed, but the Ligier took a hard hit. 

Everyone expected Porsche again on top of the sheets, but Lucas Di Grassi took everyone by surprise when he put in a 3.21.375, fastest time of the second session and of the day. This time Mark Webber was fastest Porsche driver, improving his time from the morning session but 0.895 seconds short of Di Grassi's flying lap. Romain Dumas took third place in the second Porsche 919.  Fourth fastest was the #7 Audi, who didn't get to make a lot of tracktime in this session due to suspension repairs, again followed by both Toyota's. Behind the factory teams, Rebellion outpaced ByKolles again, the latter not being able to go under the 3.33 minute mark today. 

Eurasia confirmed their strong start in the morning session, taking off another 0.7 seconds of their time and putting in a 3.36.6. The #33 Oreca was now followed by both G-Drive cars, the #26 Oreca second, 0.8 seconds behind the leader and the "good old" #38 Gibson 015S/Nissan third just behind the Oreca. Even more impressive knowing that the fastest time in this car was set by Le Mans newcomer and youngster Jake Dennis. The #36 Signatech Alpine and the title defending #47 KCMG Oreca05 rounded out the top 5. 

Corvette took the lead in GTE-Pro in the afternoon in the #63,  ahead of the #91 Porsche 911 with a gap of 0.28 seconds. The second Corvette was third fastest, with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and the #92 Porsche behind. All Fords again not really on the pace of the toprunners in class. 

Also a Corvette on top in the GTE-Am class. Dutchman and Le Mans rookie Nick Catsburg put in an astonishing lap in the #50 Larbre Competition C7 Z06, an impressive 1.6 seconds faster than 2 Ferrari 458's; #61 Clearwater Racing and #83 AF Corse.  

Several cars had issues in the afternoon session, completing only a few laps.  

Action around the track starts again next Sunday with the start of scrutineering in the centre of Le Mans.

Morning results
Afternoon results

Kristof Vermeulen.