First qualifying with lots of damaged cars

It was a turbulent first qualifying on Circuit de la Sarthe, prior to the 24 hours race on Saturday.

SMP Racing #11 was the first car to set a fast time, while Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 quickly answered it again. DragonSpeed #10 surprised by being the second fastest at a time, until they fell back to P4, behind Rebellion Racing #3.

In the LMP2 class DragonSpeed #31 was the quickest, ahead of foran Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 and United Autosports #22.

High Class Racing #20 would drive in the dark for the first time, which the drivers have to get used to. That was why Dennis Andersen, Anders Fjordbach and Mathias Beche were third last in the LMP2 class.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67
Photo: JJ Media

Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 with David Heinemeier Hansson, Jordan King and Ricky Taylor was P11 in LMP2.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 with Harry Tincknell was the fastest in GTE Pro, being set on the very last flying lap. Porsche #93 was next, ahead of Aston Martin Racing #97. Porsche #92 with Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor finished sixth.

Aston Martin Racing #95 with Darren Turner, Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim was seventh fastest in the GTE Pro category.

Corvette Racing #63 with Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller was P11 in GTE Pro.

DragonSpeed #31
Photo: JJ Media

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 was the fastest GTE Am car, in front of Team Project 1 Porsche #56, while Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 set a time very late in the quali and jumped to P3, ahead of Aston Martin Racing #98.

Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey and Manuela Gostner were P15, where none of the three women went after a super fast flying lap.

There were so many problems for different teams. DragonSpeed #10 had to park the car due to gearbox problems.

Corvette Racing #64 had a problem with their right front wheel. The tire was at least punctured, but there was also damage on the suspension. The team wasn’t sure which one happened first.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88
Photo: JJ Media

DragonSpeed #31 with Roberto Gonzalez had a solo spin in the Ford chicane. It turned out to involve Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 driver Mike Conway, who hit the spinning car, that was trying to come to the right direction again. The contact was so hard that the Toyota was up in the air with all four wheels off the ground! Miraculously, both cars could drive back to the pits and only needed the front nose to be changed, and they were ready again.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 with Olivier Pla had an exit in the Corvette Curve, towards the end of the Porsche Curves. The Frenchman spun and hit the tire barrier with the front of his car, afterwards the car swirled around and hit it with the rear, which ripped the wing. After being pulled free from the gravel, he could drive the car back to the pits, where the mechanics looked at the damages right away.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA #69 with Scott Dixon had a tour on the gravel in, ironically, the Ford Chicane..

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7
Photo: JJ Media

Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 also had a contact with Aston Martin Racing #98 in the Ford chicane, but it wasn’t as severe as the sister car.

Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 with Stephane Richelmi had a solo spin around the Dunlop bridge, but he got back to the track.

Porsche #92 with Laurens Vanthoor behind the wheel had an off track moment through the gravel in the Mulsanne Corner, but he came out on the other side.

TDS Racing #28 got eyebrows raised when they drove without rear lights on the car. Which wasn’t the wisest thing to do on a completely dark circuit.

But the first qualifying was run on a bone dry track, which could possibly be the only dry session of the week.

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