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le mans ferrari hyperpole

Le Mans 24H: Road to Hyperpole

le mans ferrari hyperpole

The 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours gets super serious as of today, after a week of build-up and practice for what is fittingly billed as The Race of the Century on Saturday.

Before that Hyperpole today (at 20:00 CET; 18:00 GMT) will decide the grid for the 91st edition of the world’s greatest endurance race with Ferrari and Porsche flexing their muscles, keen to end Toyotas run of top spot starts at Circuit de la Sarthe.

Track action began on Wednesday, sunny skies coupled with balmy temperatures nudging the 30°C mark greeted the 62 cars heading out for the first free practice session, a three-hour session ahead of qualifying later in the day.

Toyota’s veteran Kamui Kobayashi was first to dip under 3:28 on his first hot lap. Porsche Penske Motorsport made a move in the latter stages with the #75 Porsche 963 moving up into second spot in the overall standings, Felipe Nasr going round in 3:28.150 on the car’s 20th lap.

The position was short-lived as Brendon Hartley in the #8 Toyota jumped to the top with a time of 3:27.742. Earl Bamber also broke through the 3:28 barrier with 12 minutes to go in the #2 Cadillac V-Series.R after being held up by traffic on a number of promising laps earlier in the session.

There was bent metal too, The two casualties of the collision that halted FP1 for 30 minutes earlier on Wednesday – #777 Aston Martin Vantage of D’Station Racing and #24 Oreca 07 of Tower Motorsports – were not repaired in time for Qualy.

At 19:00 local time, Loïc Duval in the #94 Peugeot 9X8 led the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans field out of the pit lane for a one-hour Qualifying to clock a reference time fast enough to qualify for Hyperpole.

Very little separating the top eight Hypercars in terms of lap times

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A blistering start to the session saw no fewer than seven Hypercars go under 3:28 on their first flying lap. Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid was the fastest of them all, going round in 3:25.485. Just 24 cars managed to record a time before the session was hit by a series of yellow and red flags that interrupted the momentum until around a third of the session had elapsed.

Frédéric Makowiecki in the #5 Porsche 963 and Earl Bamber in the #2 Cadillac set off after Kobayashi’s benchmark when the serious stuff resumed, moving up to P2 and P3 in the standings. Brendon Hartley took over the wheel of the #8 Toyota and soon showed he was on form, going round in 3:25.749, just behind the #7 sister car’s reference time.

On lap 9, Sébastien Bourdais in the #3 Cadillac edged ahead of Bamber into P4, before Felipe Nasr in the #75 Porsche 963 took the spot. With 20 minutes to go, Antonio Fuoco jumped ahead of the entire Hypercar field, eclipsing the #7 Toyota by six-hundredths of a second.

The two Ferraris then swapped the lead as Pier Guidi took control in the #51 Ferrari before Fuoco fought back in the #50 sister car literally seconds later. Less than a second separated all eight qualifiers for Hyperpole, making it one of the closest Qualy sessions for outright pole position in recent memory.

Free Practice 2: Penske Porsche versus Ferrari for the top time ahead of Hyperpole

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Less than two hours after the chequered flag ended qualifying, most of the entries for the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans returned to the track at 22:00 local time for the second free practice.

The purpose of this two-hour session is to give drivers valuable time at the wheel in night-time conditions and for pit crews to carry out further adjustments to the settings in preparation for the Centenary race on 10-11 June.

As darkness descended on Le Mans and pit lights illuminated the home straight, the #10 Oreca 07-Gibson of Vector Sport was first out of the pit lane for the day’s final two hours of track time. Temperatures were still hovering around the 27°C mark at the end of another warm day in this corner of France.

The #13 Oreca 07-Gibson of Tower Motorsports and the #777 Aston Martin Vantage of D’Station Racing, damaged in a collision during the first practice session, again sat out after missing qualifying.

A tightly fought qualifying session ended with less than one second separating the top eight Hypercars and the crowds were looking forward to seeing the Toyota GR010-Hybrids do battle once again with the newcomers to the class.

Alessandro Pier Guidi in the Ferrari AF Corse #51 Ferrari 499P was the first go sub-3.30 on its second lap, followed a few minutes later by Frédéric Makowiecki in the #5 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsport and Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota.

LMP2 & LMGTE AM: JOTA and Ferrari to the fore

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Mirko Bortolotti was fastest on the first flying lap in the Prema Racing #63 Oreca 07-Gibson, but fell down the standings after the series of interruptions. Pietro Fittipaldi in the JOTA #28 Oreca 07 moved to the top with a time of 3:34.751, followed by the #41 Team WRT contender.

Owing to the series of incidents, no meaningful time was recorded in the LMGTE AM class until more than a third of the session had elapsed. Ulysse de Pauw in the AF Corse #21 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO taking control of proceedings (3:52.968) until Charlie Eastwood for ORT by TF went half a second quicker in the #25 Aston Martin Vantage AMR. In the closing stages, Nicky Catsburg in the #33 Corvette took the lead before Davide Rigon in the AF Corse #54 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO stole his thunder at the close. (Additional Reporting by WEC & ACO)

The Le Mans 8 Hyperpole qualifiers in the Hypercar class

  1. Ferrari 499P #50 Ferrari AF Corse – Antonio Fuoco / Miguel Molina / Nicklas Nielsen
  2. Ferrari 499P #51 Ferrari AF Corse – Alessandro Pier Guidi / James Calado / Antonio Giovinazzi
  3. Toyota GR010 Hybrid #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Mike Conway / Kamui Kobayashi / José María López
  4. Toyota GR010 Hybrid #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Sébastien Buemi / Brendon Hartley / Ryō Hirakawa
  5. Porsche 963 #5 Porsche Penske Motorsport – Dane Cameron / Michael Christensen / Frédéric Makowiecki
  6. Porsche 963 #75 Porsche Penske Motorsport – Felipe Nasr / Mathieu Jaminet / Nick Tandy
  7. Cadillac V-Series.R #3 Cadillac Racing – Sébastien Bourdais / Renger Van Der Zande / Scott Dixon
  8. Cadillac V-Series.R #2 Cadillac Racing – Earl Bamber / Alex Lynn / Richard Westbrook

The 8 Hyperpole qualifiers in LMP2

  1. Oreca 07-Gibson #28 JOTA – David Heinemeier-Hansson / Oliver Rasmussen / Pietro Fittipaldi
  2. Oreca 07-Gibson #41 Team WRT – Rui Andrade / Robert Kubica / Louis Delétraz
  3. Oreca 07-Gibson #63 Prema Racing – Doriane Pin / Daniil Kvyat / Mirko Bortolotti
  4. Oreca 07-Gibson #48 Idec Sport – Paul Lafargue / Paul-Loup Chatin / Laurents Hörr
  5. Oreca 07-Gibson #10 Vector Sport – Ryan Cullen / Gabriel Aubry / Matthias Kaiser
  6. Oreca 07-Gibson #47 Cool Racing – Reshad de Gérus / Vladislav Lomko / Simon Pagenaud
  7. Oreca 07-Gibson #923 Racing Team Turkey – Salih Yoluc / Tom Gamble / Dries Vanthoor
  8. Oreca 07-Gibson #9 Prema Racing – Bent Viscaal / Juan Manuel Correa / Filip Ugran

The 8 Hyperpole qualifiers in LMGTE Am

  1. Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #83 Richard Mille AF Corse – Luís Pérez Companc / Alessio Rovera / Lilou Wadoux
  2. Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #54 AF Corse – Thomas Flohr / Francesco Castellacci / Davide Rigon
  3. Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #33 Corvette Racing – Nicky Catsburg / Ben Keating / Nicolas Varrone
  4. Aston Martin Vantage AMR #25 ORT by TF – Ahmad Al Harthy / Michael Dinan / Charlie Eastwood
  5. Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #57 Kessel Racing – Takeshi Kimura / Scott Huffaker / Daniel Serra
  6. Aston Martin Vantage AMR #55 GMB Motorsport – Gustav Dahlmann Birch / Marco Sørensen / Jens Reno Møller
  7. Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #21 AF Corse – Simon Mann / Julien Piguet / Ulysse de Pauw
  8. Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #74 Kessel Racing – Kei Cozzolino / Yorikatsu Tsujiko / Naoki Yokomizo