The first Hyperpole of the 24 Hours of Le Mans history was run this Friday morning, on a dry a sunny Circuit de la Sarthe.
23 cars were fighting for the 6 first positions in each category. There was, however, only 5 LMP1 cars entered, so that is why it was 23 and not 24.
30 minutes of intensive battles went green, but Aston Martin Racing decided to keep their GTE Pro and Am cars #95, #97 and #98 in the pits. They would let the other teams spread out on the track, and then try to find a gap later in the session, on a hopefully slightly cleaner track.
Nyck de Vries made a driving error in the Porsche curves, and skated through the gravel. Fortunately, he missed the barrier, and was able to drive the car back to the pits, so the mechanics could clean out all the gravel.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 was the first LMP1 car to post a fast lap, but nowhere near the record times from previous years.
Rebellion Racing #1 didn’t want to give up, so they beat the time by 0,006 of a second. But there was still 20 minutes of running left.
United Autosports #22 was first to post a fast lap in LMP2, AF Corse Ferrari #71 in GTE Pro, while Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 was the first car to be P1 in GTE Am.
Porsche #91 jumped into the first position in GTE Pro, but there was still 15 minutes, just as Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 took P1 in LMP1.
High Class Racing #33 had put Kenta Yamashita in the car, and he posted in third fastest at that point of the session.
There was a poker game going on between Toyota Gazoo Racing and Rebellion Racing. Menezes in #1 called over the radio, that he could easily do a low 3.15 – but jumped out of the car shortly after.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 returned to track, to post an even faster lap.
Luzich Racing #61 grabbed P1 in GTE Am, with five minutes to go.
Rebellion Racing #1 chose NOT to go back on the track again, since the engineers thought that the risk was too high, versus the chance of grabbing the Pole from Toyota.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Kamui Kobayashi (plus Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez) took Pole Position, ahead of Rebellion Racing #1 with Gustavo Menezes (plus Bruno Senna and Norman Nato), and Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Kazuki Nakajima (plus Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley). Rebellion Racing #3 was fourth fastest, ahead of ByKolles Racing Team #4, who was faster than all the LMP2 cars, but a lot slower than rest of the LMP1 field.
United Autosports #22 with Paul Di Resta (plus Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque) took Pole in LMP2, ahead of G-Drive Racing #26 with Jean-Eric Vergne (plus Roman Rusinov and Mikkel Jensen), while Racing Team Nederland #29 with Nyck de Vries (plus Giedo van der Garde and Frits van Eerd) secured third fastest.
High Class Racing #33 with Kenta Yamashita (plus Anders Fjordbach and Mark Patterson) finished fourth.
Porsche #91 with Gianmaria Bruni (plus Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki) took Pole Position in GTE Pro, ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #51 with James Calado (plus Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra) in second, and Aston Martin Racing #95 with Marco Sørensen (plus Nicki Thiim and Richard Westbrook) in the third position.
Pole in GTE Am category was grabbed by Luzich Racing Ferrari #61 with Come Ledogar (plus Ozz Negri Jr and Francesco Piovanetti), ahead of Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 with Matt Campbell (plus Riccardo Pera and Christian Ried), and Team Project 1 Porsche #56 with Matteo Cairoli (plus Larry ten Voorde and Egidio Perfetti) in P3.
This was actually an exciting addition to the Le Mans week, where it all had to be decided in 30 minutes.
The teams can now start to prepare for the Warm-Up, that will be run on Saturday morning, and the 24-hour race.