The list of cars set to contest tomorrow’s Hyperpole session at Le Mans has been set after Wednesday evening’s hour-long qualifying session at La Sarthe. The top six in each of the four classes claimed a chance to go head-to-head in the short shootout session tomorrow to decide the front three rows on the grid in each category for Saturday’s race.
Up front in Le Mans Hypercar, the five cars on the entry didn’t need to push for times in this session due to them all being through to the shootout by default. Nevertheless, Kamui Kobayashi set a 3m27.247s to top the times in the No. 7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID, before rain arrived halfway through the running after a red-flag stoppage.
Kobayashi’s time was just a tenth up on the first of the two Glickenhaus 007 LMHs, Oliver Pla setting the No. 708’s best time — a 3m27.355s to go second overall.
Third was the sister Glickenhaus, with the Alpine fourth. The second Toyota, meanwhile, had its running significantly reduced after the team was forced to change its rear-right suspension. This meant the No. 8 didn’t set a time in the dry and ended up 29th overall after a 3m40.842s set by Sebastien Buemi.
In LMP2, WRT, JOTA, United Autosports and Prema all got cars through to Hyperpole. Fastest in the times was Robin Frijns in the No. 31 WRT ORECA. His 3m29.898s was good enough for fifth overall and was a couple of tenths clear of the other runners.
Antonio Felix da Costa’s best effort put the No. 38 JOTA ORECA second, ahead of the Realteam by WRT example that slotted in third after Norman Nato’s stint. Both United ORECAs will take part in Hyperpole, with the No. 23 leading the No. 22 in fourth and fifth, as will the Prema Orlen ORECA that was the final runner to make the cut.
There were a few notable teams that were unable to sneak into the shootout in the huge LMP2 field. The Penske, No. 32 WRT and No. 28 JOTA ORECAs didn’t set fast-enough times. The Richard Mille Racing and No. 65 Panis Racing cars also just missed out, sitting seventh and eighth in the classification.
In the seven-car GTE Pro field, just one car missed out on Hyperpole — the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ferrari, which was 3.1 seconds off the pace. This meant that all six factory GTE Pro cars made it through. The No. 92 Porsche topped the session after Laurens Vanthoor set a 3m50.999s. This was a tenth up on Antonio Garcia, who came closest in the No. 63 Corvette, and almost 0.4s faster than Frederic Makowiecki. The Frenchman held the top spot early in the session when the initial flurry of times were being set in the No. 91 Porsche, before dropping to third.
All the top times came in the first half of the hour, as an off for the No. 93 Proton Porsche brought out a red-flag period that lasted until it began to rain.
It was Michael Fassbender who caused the stoppage. The Irishman had a nasty moment heading into the first Mulsanne Chicane, losing the rear and veering head-on into the armco. causing heavy front-end damage. Initially, he got going again but he had to stop aside the circuit later in the lap, causing the stoppage. Thankfully he was OK after the hit, and was heard on team radio explaining that a “heavy” front puncture was preventing him from continuing.
This incident froze the order in all four classes. In Am, Northwest AMR ran fastest with Nicki Thiim setting a 3m52.559s, almost a second up on the rest of the drivers in the class. Behind, the No. 57 Kessel, No. 54 AF Corse, No. 85 Iron Dames and No. 61 AF Corse 488 GTEs all made the cut, finishing second, third, fourth and sixth respectively. The No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche, which won the most recent WEC race at Spa, split the Ferraris as Harry Tincknell’s 3m54.224s put the 911 RSR fifth.
Just outside the top six were the GR Racing, Project 1 and WeatherTech Racing Porsches.
UP NEXT: Free Practice 2, which is set to get underway at 10:00 p.m. local time.