Rebellion Racing ended Toyota’s day-long reign at the top of the timing screens in Thursday’s night practice at Le Mans. The team’s No. 3 Rebellion R13 set the quickest time, a 3m19.158s, though it was still two seconds behind the time Toyota set in the preliminary qualifying session earlier in the day.
The No. 7 Toyota TS050 slotted in second with a time of 3m19.638s. Normally, this night session would act as qualifying and we would see the quickest times of the week, but with the introduction of Hyperpole, most teams focused on race pace and longer runs. Rebellion and Toyota were both seen frequently changing the nose of their cars, trying different set-ups.
The No. 1 Rebellion R13 was third with a time of 3m19.775s, while the No. 8 Toyota TS050 was fourth. The Rebellions and Toyotas each completed around 50 laps.
The No. 4 ByKolles of Bruno Spengler brought out a red flag in the middle of the session. Spengler said that he went wide onto the exit curbs of Terte Rouge, which lifted all four wheels off the ground. That sent the car nose-first into the barrier. Spengler was able to drive the car back to the pits under its own power, where the team began repairs.
ByKolles’ CLM ended the session over 12s behind the time set by the No. 3 Rebellion and behind a number of LMP2 cars. The car only completed 11 laps in the four-hour session.
In LMP2, the No. 30 Duqueine Engineering ORECA topped the class with a lap time of 3m28.013s. Like in LMP1, lap times were slower compared to the times from the earlier qualifying session.
United Autosports ended the session in second and fourth, with the No. 32 ORECA leading the team with a time of 3m28.924s. The best lap time from the No. 22 ORECA was a 3m29.341s. With both of those cars in Hyperpole, United Autosports has emerged as an early favorite for pole position in LMP2 despite this being its first time at Le Mans with an ORECA chassis.
The No. 26 G-Drive Racing ORECA rounded out the top three with a lap time of 3m29.082s by Mikkel Jensen.
All LMP2 cars set times in the session except for the pair of IDEC Sport entries which are still being repaired following incidents earlier in the day. Camera shots from inside the garage showed good progress on the No. 17 ORECA and No. 28 ORECA. If repaired in time and if inspection is passed, both cars have been given permission to start the race despite not setting times in qualifying.
In the first nighttime running of the weekend, it was Porsche who led the way with the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR 19 setting the quickest time, a 3m52.177s. Aston Martin was close behind though, with the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage finishing the session second in the class with a 3m52.463s from Maxime Martin. The No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage was third.
The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE was the first Ferrari but Alessandro Pier Guidi’s lap time of 3m52.800 was only good enough for fourth.
The only drama for any GTE Pro runner came early in the session when the No. 92 Porsche suffered a tire puncture, but there was no damage to the car.
In GTE AM, the No. 70 MR Racing Ferrari 488 GTE ended the session on top of the sheets with a 3m54.490s. The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage was second with a lap time of 3m54.590s.
The No. 60 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GTE rounded out the top three with a lap time of 3m854s. The biggest takeaway from the session in GTE Am, however, was the crash of the No. 62 Red River Sport Ferrari 488 GTE.
First Johnny Mowlem spun going into the Ford Chicane but the car escaped damage continued. A few minutes later though, it was in trouble again, this time in the hands of Bob Grimes, who got caught out in the braking zone of the first chicane.
The No. 62 Ferrari struck the barrier on the right side of the track nose-first before sliding back across and coming to a stop just before the tire barriers. Thankfully Grimes walked away from the car without assistance, but the crash necessitated a red flag that ended the session 20 minutes early.