2020 Le Mans Qualifying: Toyota dominate, LMP2 and GT very close

Toyota Gazoo Racing dominated day one of track action at Le Mans on Thursday, their car two cars easily the quickest of the five LMP1 cars, but the real race is behind them in the LMP2 Class and the GTE Pro and Pro-Am classes where it is extremely close.

The #7 Toyota of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López was quickest in the frenetic 45-minutes session, with the #8 car of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartle and Kazuki Nakajima.

Eary on in the session ex-F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi got the bit between his teeth and unleashed an impressive Kobayashi 3:17.089, a quarter of a second quicker than Nakajima in the sister car.

Nyck De Vries was fastest in the LMP2 Class, putting the D#29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca 07 Gibson top of the timing screen in a very competitive class.

Aston Martin did the double, topping the timesheets in both the GTE-Pro an in GTE-Am.

The top six from each class will partake in the Hyperpole – a new concept – on the morning of race day on Saturday, to decide the final grid standings for the 88th running of the legendary race at Circuit de la Sarthe.

2020 Le Mans Qualifying Notes

These are the main headlines from the 45-minute session held in warm and sunny conditions.

LMP1

  • Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest time out of the LMP1 crews early on with a lap time of 3:17.089 in the No 7. Toyota TS050 Hybrid, 0.247s ahead of the No. 8 sister car with fellow Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel
  • Third quickest was the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson car, the car benefitting from a brand new engine after sitting out of the majority of FP2
  • Le Mans returnees, ByKolles Racing Team were fourth fastest with Frenchman Tom Dillmann setting a time of 3:24.468 in the No.4 Enso CLM/P1/01
  • Rounding out the top five is the No. 3 Rebellion car
  • All five cars will progress to tomorrow’s Hyperpole to determine grid positions for Saturday’s race

LMGTE Pro

  • It was an Aston Martin 1-2 out of the eight LMGTE Pro entries competing at Le Mans, the top six spots occupied by full-time WEC entrants
  • Nicki Thiim set the fastest time at the wheel of the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage with a time of 3:50.872, 0.053s ahead of the sister No. 97 car
  • Third and fourth quickest in the session were the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo entries (No. 51 and No. 71)
  • After clocking the fifth and sixth fastest times, the two Porsche GT Team No. 91 and No 92 cars make up the final two slots in tomorrow’s Hyperpole

LMP2

  • No. 29 Racing Team Nederland fastest out of the 24 LMP2 entries, with Nyck De Vries setting a time of 3:26.648
  • Jackie Chan DC Racing second quickest in another ORECA 07 Gibson car as Will Stevens clocked a time of 3:27.097 early in the session
  • WEC LMP2 category leaders United Autosports third fastest after Paul Di Resta set a time of 3:27.148
  • Regular ELMS entry G-Drive Racing fourth quickest with a second United Autosports entry fifth overall
  • Sixth fastest overall – and taking the final slot in tomorrow’s Hyperpole – is the WEC’s No. 33 High Class Racing entry.  The Danish team making a quick recovery after stopping on track during FP2

LMGTE Am 

  • In LMGTE Am, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing entry was on top with Ross Gunn setting the pace early on with a time of 3:52.778 in the Aston Martin Vantage
  • TF Sport was second, the British squad 0.183s adrift of pace-setters Aston Martin Racing
  • Rounding out the top three in Am qualifying was Gulf Racing in the No. 86 Porsche 911 RSR
  • The final three slots for LMGTE Am entries in Hyperpole were taken by Luzich Racing plus full-time WEC entries Dempsey-Proton Racing and Team Project 1 who finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively
  • Several lap times were deleted throughout the field due to abuse of track limits

Full results from qualifying can be found HERE.

FP3 will run at 20h00 CEST tonight before a final practice session at 10h00 tomorrow morning. Hyperpole to determine the final grid will get underway at 11:30 (CET) local time.

Earlier in the day, these were the main points after Free Practice 2:

Below are the main headlines from FP2 out of the 28 WEC entries competing at Le Mans, which also forms round 7 of FIA WEC Season 8.

LMP1

  • No. 8 Toyota driven by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley tops second practice session with a best time of 3:19.719 – fastest out of the LMP crews
  • Buemi’s time 1.360s quicker than the No. 7 sister Toyota TS050 Hybrid shared by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose-Maria Lopez
  • No. 3 Rebellion Racing entry third fastest while sister No. 1 R13 Gibson car spent most of the session in the pits getting a new engine fitted ahead of qualifying

LMGTE Pro

  • No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR fastest out of the eight LMGTE Pro crews with Michael Christensen setting a blisteringly quick time of 3:52.783
  • Aston Martin Racing No. 97 car second fastest with Alex Lynn clocking 3:53.346
  • No. 91 Porsche GT Team entry third fastest, with AF Corse Ferrari fourth out of the WEC entries in the Ferrari 488 GTE EVO

LMP2

  • The ORECA 07 Gibson entry shared by Frits Van Eerd, Giedo van der Garde and Nyck De Vries
    clocked the fastest time out of the 24 LMP2 entries with a time of 3:27.185
  • Second fastest was the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing car, 0.826s adrift of the pace-setting Racing Team Nederland car
  • Rounding out the top three in FP1 was JOTA equipped with Goodyear tyres
  • No. 33 High Class Racing entry that topped the FP1 times retired in FP2 after the car stopped out on track with Mark Patterson at the wheel

LMGTE Am 

  • Matt Campbell in the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing entry clocked the fastest lap out of the LMGTE Am entries with a time of 3:53.961 in the Porsche 911 RSR
  • Third fastest – and second out of the WEC entries – was the No. 86 Gulf Racing entry. Fourth overall (and third in WEC) was FP1’s front-runner – the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing entry

Click HERE for full times from FP2.

Le Mans qualifying sessions are getting underway at [17h15] before the final practice session of the day which will commence at 20h00.

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