The Toyota and Corvette works teams topped the afternoon session at Le Mans Test Day, the traditional pre-event practice that followed official scrutineering ahead of next weekend’s 90th 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Among the Hypercars, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 7 GR010 HYBRID shared by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez set the fastest lap of 3m29.896s with Lopez taking the pace-setting lap. The No. 708 Glickenhaus Racing driven by Olivier Pla, Romain Dumas and Pipo Derani was 0.3s behind the leading Hypercar (3m30.104s) while the other Toyota, the No. 8 Toyota shared by Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, was third, a half-second behind the sister car (3m30.822s). The Alpine A480 Gibson driven by Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere was seventh overall, some two and a half seconds behind the fastest Toyota, at 3m32.420s.
The session was red-flagged with just seconds remaining after a seemingly harmless off-course excursion at Mulsanne Corner for the No. 7, Lopez completing a circuit of the roundabout and rejoining to pit under the red flag.
In LMP2, the No. 22 United Autosport ORECA 07 shared by Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Will Owen was fastest in the hands of the Portuguese star at 3m32.099s, nearly 0.3s ahead of the No. 38 JOTA ORECA 07 Gibson shared by Roberto Gonzalez, Antonio Felix da Costa and Will Stevens (3m32.382s) and 0.8s ahead of the No. 22 sister car driven by Alexander Lynn, Oliver Jarvis and Joshua Pierson (3m32.879s)
The only Ligier competing in LMP2 this weekend was the No. 27 CD Sport Ligier JSP217 Gibson shared by Christophe Cresp, Michael Jensen and Steven Palette. It was the slowest LMP2 car at 3:42.738 — over 10 seconds behind the leading car.
Corvette Racing held station at the top of the GTE-Pro timing screen, the No. 64 and No. 63 Corvette C8.Rs P1 and P2 early on. Alexander Sims had opened his account with a 3m54.314s to improve the No. 64 car’s best by three tenths over the previous session, and in the last hour of the session and still in dry conditions, the two cars traded times at the top, shaving off a couple of tenths in the process before a 3m54.001s emerged as the best GTE-Pro time of the day for Sims in the No. 64 car. Both Corvette crews had almost uninterrupted running.
Shane van Gisbergen had a spin at the Ford Chicane in the Riley Competition Ferrari, but the No. 74 car had shown well, enjoying being ahead AF Corse program for some while.
AF Corse’s approach was typically unflustered and stealthy, though. The No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo hadn’t seen much daylight, but emerged from its pit in the third hour, when a 3m54.037s from Miguel Molina took the car to the top of the Pro times until Sims brought the No. 64 Corvette back in play. The No. 51 Ferrari turned just seven laps in the first half of the session, Alessandro Pier Guidi’s best of 3m54.395s improving the car’s pace by more than a second over its morning session best to finish the test fourth in class.
Manthey’s Porsche GT Team was making up for lost time. Laurens Vanthoor stayed aboard the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19, doing all the laps until the safety car period at the end of the second hour brought most of the GTE-Pro field back to the pits. A 3m54.444 sfrom Kevin Estre would improve the car’s time, but not it’s prominence. Fred Makowiecki posted a 3m54.263s to place the No. 91 Porsche third.
However, despite this apparent disparity, it should be noted that just half a second covers the whole of the GTE-Pro field’s performance.
The Danes were showing well in GTE-Am. Frederik Schandorff resumed his form of the previous session to deliver a 0.7s improvement on his previous best, a 3m55.115s heading the class late in the first hour for the increasingly sharp-looking No. 57 Kessel Racing Ferrari. Further progress by Mikkel Jensen would deliver the fastest GTE-Am time of the day, 3m54.827s — just 0.3s shy of last year’s Test Day class best.
Considering the strength of Ferrari entries in GTE-Am, a 1-2-3 shouldn’t be too surprising. With times starting to improve after the safety car period, Renger van der Zande climbed aboard the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, fresh from his IMSA win yesterday. The 3m55.241s for second-fastest time was a statement of intent from the young Cadillac ace, spearheading the potential of JMW’s pace after earlier incidents.
Spirit of Race was rarely off the pace in today’s test, the red No. 71 car posting solid times. Pierre Ragues’ 3m55.241s was a good improvement on the day to place the car third.
Marco Sorensen headed the category earlier on for TF Sport, Aston Martin’s first show of pace. The No. 33 Vantage AMR posted 3m56.149s to improve on its Session 1 time as the best of the Aston Martins, this accolade wrestled away by Northwest AMR, though, the No. 98 Aston Martin fourth quickest in class with a 3m55.591s.
Having been running well, Simon Mann’s No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari found the limit at Indianapolis, the British driver spinning and fortunately just brushing the barrier in a high-speed incident.
Niggling headlight issues interrupted track time for the No. 71 Spirit of Race Ferrari, while Matteo Cressoni’s No. 80 Iron Lynx Ferrari blew a tire and limped down the Mulsanne straight having been running third quickest. The No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche spent time in the pits dealing with a fuel pressure sensor problem.
The No. 86 GR Racing Porsche was the last Am car to hit the track in the second half of the session. as Jan Heylen had the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche stuck in the gravel after spinning at the entry to the Porsche Curves, punctured front tires evident, and bringing out a safety car period that split the session launched for its recovery. The No. 99 Hardpoint Racing Porsche that had shown well earlier sat in its garage with significant left-rear damage. Repaired, the car set its overall fastest lap on its first flying lap. Having shown well earlier in the day, the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari caught a stop-and-go penalty of five minutes for too frequently over-stepping track limits.