Hyperpole for the 2021 edition of the 24-hour race at Le Mans was a dramatic thirty minutes.
Six cars from each category would battle for the six first positions in every category, where the six were found in the qualifying yesterday.
However, all Hypercar cars were there, since there were only five in the category this year.
All the cars went out to the track right away, except for TF Sport #33.
Corvette Racing #64 had to pit straight away as the car’s headlights weren’t on. It was a requirement – not just because it was about to get dark, but generally in the FIA WEC regulations.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 was on the way to a fantastic flying lap, setting 3:23,900 – a new fastest lap record, and about three seconds faster than yesterday’s lap times. Their teammates in #8 were more than a second away from Pole. Kamui Kobayashi was that dominant. Glickenhaus Racing #708 was third, ahead of Alpine Elf Matmut #36.
Porsche #92 got stuck in the gravel in Indianapolis when Kevin Estre made a mistake and crashed the car hard into the tire wall. It triggered a Red Flag, in order to get the car removed. The car was damaged. Estre said over the radio that there was a broken part in the chassis. Bad news for Michael Christensen and Neel Jani.
Before that, Team WRT #41 managed to set the fastest time in LMP2, while none of the GTE cars had time to set a time before the red flag came.
United Autosports #32 again changed their set-up since they felt that the car didn’t drive perfectly on the track.
When the qualifying started again, Kobayashi was out on yet another flying lap that was very close to matching his own time. His teammate Brendon Hartley was also much faster, and was now only 0.330 second behind.
JOTA #38 jumped up to first place in LMP2, while AF Corse Ferrari #5 was the first GTE Pro car to set a fast time.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 continued their fast lap times from the free practices, and set P1 in GTE Am.
Alpine Elf Matmut #36 came up to third place in Hypercar, still over two seconds from the Toyotas. Glickenhaus Racing #708 went up with a tenth of a second, but still over two seconds from Toyota.
HubAuto Racing Porsche #72 now topped the GTE Pro category, while Corvette Racing #64 was third.
In the GTE categories, several teams chose to put on new tires, with only a few minutes left.
Glickenhaus Racing really tried and put on new tires on both cars, giving one last attempt.
AF Corse Ferrari #52 was on the way to a potential Pole but lost over a second in sector 3.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Kamui Kobayashi (plus Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway) took Pole Position, ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Brendon Hartley (plus Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima), and with Alpine Elf Matmut #36 with Nico Lapierre (plus Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere) in third. Glickenhaus Racing #708 and #709 came close, but were still 1.7 and 3 seconds from Pole respectively.
JOTA #38 with Antonio Felix da Costa (plus Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davidson) took pole in LMP2, ahead of Team WRT #41 with Louis Deletraz (plus Robert Kubica and Yifei Ye), and with Panis Racing #65 with Will Stevens (plus James Allen and Julien Canal) in P3.
HubAuto Racing Porsche #72 with Dries Vanthoor (plus Maxime Martin and Alvaro Parente) was the GTE Pro Polesitter, followed by AF Corse Ferrari #52 with Daniel Serra (plus Sam Bird and Miguel Molina), and with Corvette Racing #64 with Nick Tandy (plus Alexander Sims and Tommy Milner) in third. A privateer who beat all the factory teams in GTE Pro – a fantastic effort!
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 with Julien Andlauer (plus Dominique Bastien and Lance David Arnold) took the GTE Am Pole, ahead of GR Racing Porsche #86 with Ben Barker (plus Mike Wainwright and Tom Gamble), while Team Project 1 Porsche #56 with Matteo Cairoli (plus Egidio Perfetti and Riccardo Pera) was third fastest.
Now the teams had a single practice more tonight before Friday, as a preparation day for the mechanics. The drivers had no parade to attend this year, and not so much presswork due to the COVID-19 restrictions, so they’ll have a bit more relaxing Friday than usual.