Kobayashi, Toyota lead opening Le Mans practice

Image by Toyota

Kobayashi, Toyota lead opening Le Mans practice

Le Mans/WEC

Kobayashi, Toyota lead opening Le Mans practice

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The No. 7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID set the fastest time in Le Mans 24 Hours Free Practice this afternoon with a 3m18.091s late in the session from circuit lap record holder Kamui Kobayashi.

That effort pipped the No. 11 SMP Racing BR1 to the top spot, after Le Mans debutant Stoffel Vandoorne set a 3m19.931s on the drying track at La Sarthe which was hit by rain showers throughout the four-hour session.

The No. 3 Rebellion R-13 ended up third, after sitting atop the times until the sun came out with just over an hour to go, following a 3m19.960s from Gustavo Menezes.

Completing the top five was the No. 8 Toyota, and the No. 1 Rebellion, 2.8 and 3.1 seconds off Kobayashi’s time respectively.

It was an incident-packed session due to the rain, with the Krohn-liveried No. 99 Proton Porsche the only real casualty from the changeable conditions. Tracy Krohn had a huge off at the exit on the Mulsanne Straight, severely damaging the car, and the barriers. Officials were forced to put out red flags for 45 minutes to clear up the debris and repair the barriers.

Fortunately, an official update from the FIA WEC revealed that Tracy was “conscious and in good spirits. He is being taken to the hospital for precautionary checks.”

Another driver to have an off — but thankfully not into the barriers was — Frits van Eerd in the Racing Team Nederland Dallara, the Dutchman spinning the car multiple times down the Mulsanne straight. The Larbre Competition Ligier also had an off into the gravel at the very end of the session.

Leading the way in LMP2, meanwhile, was the No. 48 IDEC Sport ORECA 07 Gibson, Paul-Loup Chatin setting a 3m28.363s benchmark
time. The top five in the class were all ORECA chassis in Free Practice, the No. 31 DragonSpeed 07 and No. 39 GRAFF example completing the top three.

Best of the other chassis was the Racing Team Nederland Dallara, which ended up sixth, with a 3m30.611s.

In the GTE ranks, Porsche topped both classes. In Pro it was a Porsche GT Team 1-2, the No. 92 WEC full-season 911 RSR the fastest of the packed 17-car class, thanks to a 3m52.149s late in the session. Mathieu Jaminet put the IMSA guest-entered example second in the class.

Fastest of the other factories was the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari, Sam Bird setting a 3m52.742s. Ford’s fastest GT (the Ganassi Team UK No. 66) ended up fourth with a 3m52.778s from Stefan Mucke.

Australian Bathurst 12 Hour winner Matt Campbell was the pace-setter for Dempsey Proton in Am, driving the No. 77 911 RSR. A 3m55.304s was his best tour of the 13.6km circuit.

RESULTS

UP NEXT: The first of three qualifying sessions begins at 10 p.m. local time, and finishes at midnight.

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