This afternoon’s qualifying session for the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans saw teams in three of the four classes scrambling for the top-six positions in class to claim a spot in tomorrow’s quick-fire Hyperpole session that will determine the final grid order.
There was rather more certainty in the new Hypercar class, which has just five cars for the first season ahead of the factory gold rush to come.
The session was topped by four of them, the No. 7 Toyota GR010 of Jose Maria Lopez coming out ahead with a 3m26.279s — over 0.8s up on the No. 36 Alpine A480, with Matthieu Vaxiviere ahead of the second Toyota.
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC (@TGR_WEC) August 18, 2021
The pair of Glickenhaus 007 Hypercars finished the session fourth and seventh overall, with the No 708 — in the hands of Olivier Pla, fastest overall at Sunday’s Test Day — staying in touch with the Toyota ahead. The second Glickenhaus, though, was beaten for pace by the two fastest LMP2 cars, the cars slowed this year to maintain separation between the two classes with less power and more weight.
That class was topped by a pair of cars driven by the last two champions in Formula E, the No. 38 ORECA of Antonio Felix da Costa putting in a lap in 3m28.807s, almost half a second clear of the best effort from newly crowned Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Aurus 01.
The top six were completed by Louis Deletraz in the debuting Team WRT No. 41 ORECA, ex F1 driver Will Stevens in the No. 65 Panis Racing car and two of the three United Autosports efforts, Nico Jamin in the No. 32 and Paul di Resta in the No. 23.
The defending winners in class, the No. 22 United car, did not make the cut — much to the clear annoyance of Felipe Albuquerque, who was furious after seeing his laps interrupted with GT traffic.
GTE Pro was topped by a factory Ferrari 1-2, the AF Corse -un No 52 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo topping the times with a 3m46.011s, half a second up on the sister No. 51 car of Daniel Serra.
Porsche star Kevin Estre was third fastest in the No. 92 911 RSR, edging out a late session effort from Nick Tandy in the No. 64 Corvette C8.R, the Corvette Racing team debuting its newest car here after missing Le Mans last year.
Two more Porsches completed the top six — the No. 72 Hub Auto Racing car from Taiwan in the hands of Dries (younger brother of Laurens) Vanthoor and the second factory 911 — leaving the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche and the No. 63 Corvette to miss the cut. The ‘Vette had missed most of the Test Day after an electrical fire forced the team into an unplanned engine change.
GTE Am, meanwhile, saw the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Porsche top the field with the No. 86 GR Racing Porsche, while the No. 47 and No. 71 Cetilar Racing and Inception Racing Ferraris, the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche and No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin also progressed to Hyperpole.
UP NEXT: Track action is completed tonight with another two-hour Free Practice session starting at 10 p.m. local time.