The final Free Practice session for the centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans saw Ferrari’s No. 51 499P top the times with a 3m27.275s from James Calado.
The session was a was punctuated by an electrical breakdown for one of the Peugeot TotalEnergies 9X8 Hypercars. In Free Practice 3, it was the No. 94 Peugeot that went back to the pits with a trail of smoke behind it. This car was fine for Free Practice 4 – this time, the gremlins struck down the No. 93 car.
Jean-Eric Vergne was exiting the first Mulsanne Chicane when the lights began to flicker on and off in the darkness. Vergne rolled the Peugeot to a stop along the right side of Les Hunaudieres, and a Slow Zone was declared for a few minutes.
Race director Eduardo Freitas didn’t like how some unnamed drivers were running to the right instead of the left, so he decided to red-flag the session for 20 minutes.
The other notable story out of the Hypercar class came from Cadillac Racing. After the No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R caught fire in the Hyperpole session, the fire-damaged car was returned to the garage to assess the damage caused by what Cadillac Racing confirmed was a burst high-pressure fuel hose. But it did not take any further part in Thursday track activities.
Glickenhaus Racing ended up second, Esteban Gutierrez just a second off the No. 51 with a 3m28.278s in the No. 709 SCG 007, ahead of Will Stevens in the Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963.
There was little drama at all in LMP2; no major incidents to report, and all 24 cars were able to get significant track time. Dries Vanthoor in the No. 923 Racing Team Turkey Oreca 07-Gibson was fastest on a 3m36.229s.
Job van Uitert was second-quickest in the Panis Racing No. 65, and Mirko Bortolotti was third in the Prema Racing No. 63.
Tom van Rompuy had the fastest time amongst the Bronze-rated drivers in the LMP2 Pro-Am sub-class, driving the DKR Engineering No. 43.
In GTE Am, JMW Motorsport’s Ferrari 488 GTE EVO ended the session with the fastest time, Louis Prette’s 3m52.965s achieved despite its five minutes stop and go penalty for a yellow flag infringement: time added to the one-hour session in compensation for the red flag delay absorbed the penalty which might have otherwise been taken during the race.
The shorter-than-usual final practice session placed the D’Station Racing Aston Martin under pressure, not least its rookie driver. Casper Stevenson’s requirement was clean laps in the rebuilt No. 777 car to complete the work by TF Sport and get the car officially back into the race. The young Brit delivered, a 4m01.206s the best of the five needed as his minimum requirement,;the time falling within the 110% regulation.
That didn’t take the pressure off the team, though. Tomonobu Fuji and Satoshi Hoshino still needed five qualifying laps each, but adjustment of the session time to compensate for the red flag let the Japanese drivers off the hook. Fuji just scraped by in the final seconds.
Two cars sat out the session: the No. 25 ORT by TF Aston Martin and the No. 911 Proton Competition Porsche.