It was an almost trouble-free day for the 60 cars at the Le Mans test day, 2 weeks ahead of the race itself.
It didn’t turn out to be 8 hours uninterrupted driving since the last 30 minutes had to be cancelled due to barrier damage from Michael Shank Racing with Ozz Negri Jr. behind the wheel. The barrier was damaged so much that it couldn’t be rebuild during those 30 minutes. The car got quite a bit of damage too but the team hope to have it ready for a shakedown tomorrow at the Bugatti circuit, which is the short version that MotoGP uses as well.
Until that point everything went smooth for most of the teams.
Audi was fastest with number 8 ahead of Porsche 1 and 2, and Audi 7. Toyota drove 5th and 6th fastest times while both Rebellion was ahead of Bykolles. Worth noting is that Rebellion was fastest at the speed traps. They have shown very good top speed all season long, but you always have to take it with a pinch of salt. The hybrid cars run out of power at some point down the straight, and at that point the cars slow down. Some of the drivers have described it like a parachute is released behind the car, when the hybrid power ends.
In LMP2 there was a lot of changes at the top, but Euroasia ended up fastest. Generally it looked like the ORECA chassis was the one to have with 6 out of the top 7 cars was from ORECA – either as a “original” ORECA or as an Alpine branded version. Only G-Drive with their Gibson sneaked into P4. But all the times were very close at the top, so nothing is given here. A lot of things can change before and during the race.
GTE-Pro was a day-long battle between Porsche and Corvette. They switched positions all day long while Ferrari, Ford and Aston Martin held a bit more back. But a lot is going on behind the scenes. All cars automatically got their top speeds registered on the straight, but somehow only 1 of the 4 Ford’s were logged with a speed – and that speed wasn’t impressive at all. There is a lot of rumours about Ford’s actual pace. Some even talk about the possibility for them to mix up with the LMP2 cars. We will see more about that when the qualifying is run on Wednesday and Thursday.
In GTE-Am we didn’t see so much sandbagging. Larbre’s Corvette was the fastest ahead of a whole bunch of Ferrari’s, the an Aston Martin and a long line of Porsche’s.
There is 1 very special car in the field. Car number 84 is the so called Garage 56 entry. Its an LMP2 Morgan with some special equipment since Frederic Sausset has no hands or feet. He had all 4 limbs removed after a special virus that ate his flesh, so it was the doctors only option to amputate them. Therefore he has a special joystick in the car, while the 2 other drivers are driving the car like normal. There has been a lot of critical comments about this entry, since its pace with Sausset behind the wheel is a lot slower than the other LMP2’s. Yesterday we saw his pace at the back of GTE-Am times. It can be a security risk if he goes that slow during the race, when the competitors expect a lot faster car, when they see an LMP2. But it’s a French team and a French car in a French race – so a lot of things probably have to go wrong for it not to get the starting permit. We can just cross our fingers that all will be fine and all the critical talk will be made to shame.
Next time we see the cars officially will be on Sunday and Monday. There we have scrutineering in the city centre. First track action is Wednesday afternoon where we have 4 hours practice followed by qualifying 1 later the same day.