The traditional test day prior to the 24 hours race at Le Mans was started at nine o’clock in beautiful sunshine and 20 degrees temperature.
Toyota Gazoo Racing was quick to start both cars on the track, and immediately went for a long-run, where their new test and reserve driver, and new driver in the upcoming season, Brendon Hartley behind the wheel of #8.
High Class Racing #20 was out to get the car tested by Mathias Beche, who was new in the team but he got a lot of Le Mans experience.
It took less than fifteen minutes before Mike Conway in Toyota #7 set a laptime of 3:23.911! It was a time that a lot of LMP1 teams would be happy to do, not too long ago.
Corvette Racing #63 with Antonio Garcia was also fast in the GTE Pro class, where he set a time of 4:00.767, which would be a good laptime in GTE some years ago. A few minutes later Andy Priaulx in Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 set a time of under four minutes.
Racing Team Nederland #29 didn’t have the best start of the day, when they lost some of their bodywork on the track.
Jose Maria Lopez wouldn’t hold back for his teammate Conway, and improved the times one more time, by a few tenth of a second. He ended up with a time of 3:22 before pitting and handed the car to Kamui Kobayashi.
Alpine Signatech Matmut #36 set the fastest time in LMP2, but still lacked about seven seconds up to the laptimes from last year – which was applicable in all four classes.
DragonSpeed #31 with Pastor Maldonado snatched the quickest time in LMP2 after a while and got closer to last year’s laptimes.
Rebellion Racing #1 with Andre Lotterer set the fastest first sector time, but he didn’t finish the lap so nobody could see what it could have been in LMP1.
A bit over ten o’clock, Michelle Gatting came into Kessel Racing Ferrari #83 for the first time, to fulfill her obligatory ten Rookie laps on the track. Rahel Frey started the day with hers. Frey had been in the race before, but it was all the way back in 2010 with Matech Ford programmet in GT1, so she was also considered a Rookie.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 was the fastest car in GTE Am, with Francesco Castellacci behind the wheel.
SMP Racing #17 drove best non-hybrid in the LMP1 class, with a time that was 2,5 seconds slower than Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 with Stefan Mücke set a new fastest time in GTE Pro, with a 3:56.
One and a half hours into the practice there was a Full Course Yellow, but only to test the system since it was exactly four minutes with no car to be removed.
AF Corse Ferrari #71 with Sam Bird jumped up to first place in GTE Pro, after about two hours.
Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 was in trouble, when Jordan King stopped in the middle of the track. Before that, David Heinemeier Hansson managed to do a couple of laps. It was, however, critical for King, since he had to complete his ten Rookie laps.
It turned to be a red flag, when Marco Sørensen in Aston Martin Racing #95 had a problem on the track. It was the second year in a row that Sørensen and AMR triggered a red flag – last year it was a huge exit down towards Indianapolis, when he had a contact with an LMP2 car. Luckily it was just an electrical problem this year, so the team could quickly send the car back to the track.
About ten minutes later there was green flag.
There was a short local yellow, when IDEC Sport #48 had an off track moment in Indianapolis and dug itself into the gravel.
ARC Bratislava #49 had a very slow lap with Miro Konopka behind the wheel, but he drove the car back to the pits.
Michelle Gatting completed her ten Rookie laps before midday, so Manuela Gostner could take over the Kessel Racing Ferrari #83 and do hers. Gostner had, however, a problem on her last flying lap, where she had to drive slowly back to the pits.
Dennis Andersen in High Class Racing #20 also completed his ten laps before midday, where he slowly but surely improved his laptimes.
DragonSpeed #10 didn’t do that many laps in the first three hours of the test. Ben Hanley had been out and did four laps, but it was just out of the pits, into the pits. The team knows the car and track from last year, and all three drivers have already gotten start permit. But it would still be nice for them to do more laps during the test.
Stefan Mücke improved the time in Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66, so the best time in GTE Pro was naow down to 3:55.
Toyota Gazoo Racing started to fire up again, with 45 minutes left on the clock. First, Fernando Alonso set a time in #8 that almost matched the fastest time from Mike Conway in #7, and after that Conway himself was out to set a new best sector 2 time.
Jeff Segal in JMW Motorsport Ferrari #84 set a new best time in GTE Am, where he was a fraction quicker than Spirit of Race Ferrari #54.
Jonathan Hirschi in Graff #39 set the fastest LMP2 time, with about half an hour left of the practice.
Gatting was put back into Kessel Racing Ferrari #83 with forty minutes left, and right away she started to improve the time, sector by sector. It moved the car from being last in GTE Am to top ten.
DragonSpeed #10 finally woke up, with half an hour left, where Ben Hanley drove seventh fastest time in LMP1 class. He then handed the car over to Henrik Hedman, who would drive the car for the remaining half hour.
Egor Orudzhev was on a flying lap in SMP Racing #17, but he chose to pit instead of setting a time. Nearly at the same time, Sebastien Buemi in Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 set a new best time, with 3:21.
DragonSpeed #31 reclaimed first position in LMP2, with Pastor Maldonado behind the wheel. But shortly afterwards they were beaten by United Autosports #22.
There was no chance to improve the times in the last minutes of the test, since there were a couple of Slow Zones on the track, where the cars should slow down to 80 kph, so the marshals could do their job.
The first part of the test finished with Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 fastest, ahead of Toyota #7, Rebellion Racing #3, SMP Racing #11 and #17.
In the LMP2 class, United Autosport #22 was the quickest, followed by DragonSpeed #31, Graff #39, Racing Team Nederland #29 and IDEC Sport #48.
High Class Racing #20 with Anders Fjordbach, Dennis Andersen and Mathias Beche sluttede finished in P14, with Fjordbach setting the time.
David Heinemeier Hansson finished 20th and last in LMP2, after Jordan King got problems halfway into the session in Jackie Chan DC Racing #37. Ricky Taylor hadn’t been in the car at all, since he first landed from Detroit IMSA løbet after the car already was in trouble for King.
Corvette Racing #63 was the fastest GTE Pro car with Antonio Garcia behind the wheel, in front of Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66, Porsche #91, AF Corse Ferrari #51 and #71.
Michael Christensen hadn’t been in Porsche #92 at all, but instead Laurens Vanthoor set sixth fastest time, with Kevin Estre being close to match the Belgian’s time.
Aston Martin Racing #95 with Nicki Thiim, Marco Sørensen and Darren Turner was P17 and last in GTE Pro
GTE Am was a pure Ferrari show, with Spirit of Race #54 ahead of Clearwater Racing #61, JMW Motorsport #84, and Car Guy #57 before Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #99 and Krohn Racing grøn were fifth and sixth fastest.
Kessel Racing with Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey and Manuela Gostner finished P11 in GTE Am.
The teams will now have an hour lunch break, before the second part of the test will start at 14.00 local time.