Incident-filled second Le Mans qualifying session halted early

Image by Godet/LAT

Incident-filled second Le Mans qualifying session halted early

Le Mans/WEC

Incident-filled second Le Mans qualifying session halted early

While the second Le Mans 24 Hours qualifying session ran without many changes to the running order and with Toyota Gazoo Racing in front, multiple incidents forced organizers to call the session with over 20 minutes remaining.

Toyota continued at the top, with the No.8 continuing to lead the No.7 by 1.839s. Fernando Alonso’s 3m18.021s was his fastest time so far in qualifying.

Classification

In LMP1, the only improvements came from the two CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta G60-LT-P1s, which moved up the order in the prototype ranks after fast laps from Oliver Rowland and Alex Brundle in the No.6 and Mike Simpson and Charlie Robertson in the No.5.

By the end of the session, the No.6 was the higher of the two in the running order. Brundle’s best tour was a 3m24.343s, putting the car faster than all the LMP2 runners and seven seconds off the leading Toyota’s benchmark from the first qualifying session. The No.5 slotted in 12th overall, with a 3m25.268s.

The one key change in the LMP2 hierarchy came courtesy of Tristan Gommendy in the SO24 GRAFF ORECA, the Frenchman posting a 3m26.701s to put the car sixth in class, and notably, push the fastest Ligier runner (No. 22 United Autosports), down to seventh.

GTE Pro was static for the duration, while GTE Am saw only a small change up front as the No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari moved up into third in class with a 3m51.956s by Giancarlo Fisichella, breaking up the Porsche 1-2-3.

There were multiple significant incidents in the running. The first was the No.94 Porsche of Le Mans rookie Sven Muller, which went off sideways into the barriers at Indianapolis at the start of the session, causing side-on damage to the car that was significant enough to prevent it from continuing.

Moments later, another GTE Pro contender hit trouble as three-time WTCC champion Andy Priaulx put a wheel on the grass on entry into Tertre Rouge in the No.67 Chip Ganassi Ford GT, sending him spinning into the gravel and hitting the tires rear-first. Priaulx got going again and the team eventually repaired the damage, but the off caused a first red flag.

After the session went green again, the dramas didn’t end there. Nicolas Lapierre in the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470 clouted the curbs at the Ford Chicanes, causing the rear-right suspension on the car to collapse. Lapierre continued and completed a lengthy trip back to the pits, but the car spread gravel all over the circuit after his off-track excursion.

A second red flag was called moments after the gravel was cleared due to the biggest accident of the session, which saw a left-front tire explosion on the Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara of Giorgio Sernagiotto, which hit the Armco on the way down to the first Mulsanne Chicane on driver’s right. The P217 then came to a halt, severely damaged on driver’s left, down the escape road after spreading debris all over the circuit. That prompted race control halt the session.

Qualifying 3 is set to get underway at 21:30 local time (3:30 p.m. ET).

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