Toyota set the fastest time tonight in first qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
With the session run under lights at the great French racing venue showcasing Le Mans at its visceral best, the opening qualification session for the Le Mans 24 Hours would be another Toyota benefit in the LMP1 category, with the #8 of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi taking the quickest time ahead of the sister #7 machine of Jose Maria Lopez. Third would be the #17 SMP Racing of Stephane Sarrazin just over 2 seconds off the mark.
In LMP2, fastest would be the #48 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul-Loup Chatin, confirming fears that the Oreca would remain the stand out car to beat as all five of the first positions would be occupied by the French manufacturer. Of the others in LMP2, Paul di Resta and United Autosports would end up in sixth place for United Autosports, visibly slower on track than the dominant Oreca cars.
The session would be a tense affair for many teams and drivers this evening, often seeing the limits of both the circuit and the vehicles pushed beyond reasonable boundaries, resulting in some heavy work to be undertaken overnight in preparation for second qualifying on Thursday afternoon.
Tony Kannan would be in the wars in his Chip Ganassi run Ford GT, the vastly experienced IndyCar race winner losing control with just over 50 minutes remaining and finishing in the barriers facing the wrong way, the Brazilian fortunately managing to avoid serous damage in during his incident prior to heading back for late repairs on his way to continuing the brave fight against a strong Porsche contingent.
GTE would end up with Porsche 1 - 2, Ford just keeping the pace in a watching brief in third and fourth, just edging off the second row the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi.
Qualifying One Provisional Results:
#8 Toyota TS050-Hybrid – Toyota Gazoo Racing – 3:17.270
#7 Toyota TS050-Hybrid – Toyota Gazoo Racing – 3:17.377
#17 BR Engineering BR1-AER – SMP Racing – 3:19.483
#48 Oreca 07-Gibson – Idec Sport Racing – 3:24.956
#28 Oreca 07-Gibson – TDS Racing – 3:25.240
#26 Oreca 07-Gibson – G-Drive Racing – 3:26.447
#91 Porsche 911 RSR – Porsche GT Team – 3:47.504
#92 Porsche 911 RSR – Porsche GT Team – 3:49.097
#66 Ford GT – Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – 3:49.181
#88 Porsche 911 RSR – Dempsey-Proton Racing – 3:50.728
#77 Porsche 911 RSR – Dempsey-Proton Racing – 3:51.930
#86 Porsche 911 RSR – Gulf Racing – 3:52.517
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