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.
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
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
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
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