Ferrari tops opening test session at Le Mans

Ferrari tops opening test session at Le Mans

Ferrari’s Antonio Fuoco topped the timesheets as Mike Conway, crashed his Toyota in the last few seconds in the first session of the Le Mans test.

The #50 Ferrari 499P driven by Antonio Fuoco was the fastest in the first test session for the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a time of 3:30.886 under gorgeous, sunny sky and a picture-perfect late spring morning at Circuit de la Sarthe.

The 62 cars in the field started to emerge one by one onto the track for the three-hour test session.

Minor incidents early on gave Race Control, the teams, and the drivers a chance to practice the race’s protocols. Within half of an hour of the first test, the #45 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07 came to a stop. That provided the initial opportunity to go through Slow Zone protocols.

The opportunity to practice the new Safety Car merge, pass-around, and dropback techniques was presented just before halftime by debris at the first Mulsanne Chicane. The process of rearranging the field took around 24 minutes, or 3–4 laps, from the moment the Safety Car was deployed to the confirmation that the Safety Car would be withdrawn.

Mark Kvamme’s #32 Inter Europol Competition Oreca returned to the garage around two hours later with minor left front damage after he went off the track just before Dunlop Chicane.

The Paul Di Resta #93 Peugeot 9X8 Hybrid then came to a stop near Les Hunaudieres with 35 minutes remaining, bringing out the first red flag. No damage was done to the Peugeot as it was towed back to the garage on a flatbed, but it wasn’t the ideal start for the only French hypercar manufacturer in the field.

There were still 15 minutes to go, when Mike Conway’s #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 HYBRID skidded off into the grass and crashed into a barrier at Tertre Rouge.

Conway climbed out of his wrecked Toyota, which had suffered substantial body damage to the front panels. The initial test came to an immediate halt when a second red signal was raised.

Everything was going well for Ferrari AF Corse with its two Ferrari 499P Hypercars, particularly when Fuoco in the #50 posted the quickest time in the category with a 3:30.886 as James Calado in the #51 placed fourth.

The #94 Peugeot 9X8 completed a session-best 31 laps while the #93 Peugeot experienced mechanical issues. Gustavo Menezes posted the second-fastest time with a time of 3’31.346 after a quicker lap of 3:31.189 was deleted for violating track limits.

The Porsche 963s appeared to be quick as well. This was after Laurens Vanthoor in the #6 Penske Porsche Motorsport 963 set a time of 3:30.787, it would have been the fastest if it hadn’t also been removed for breaching track limits.

The gold #38 Hertz Team JOTA 963 driven by Yifei Ye managed a 3:31.477, keeping Porsche in the top three. Conway finished fifth-fastest with a time of 3:31.856, just two tenths faster than the fastest Cadillac V-Series from the Chip Ganassi Racing team, despite the fact that his accident dampened the spirits at Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Reshad de Gerus surprised everyone by setting the LMP2 class benchmark with a record time of 3:36.409 in the #47 COOL Racing Oreca, beating out two Hypercars and the second fastest driver in class by a full second.

Paul-Loup Chatin was running in second place in the Delage-sponsored #48 IDEC Sport Oreca. Ferdinand Habsburg in the #31 Team WRT Oreca placed third as Matthieu Vaxiviere driving the #36 Alpine Elf Team Oreca and Fabio Scherer of the #34 Inter Europol Competition Oreca finished fourth and fifth respectively.

LMGTE Am’s first tune-up’s last hour saw fast lap times starting to come in one by one. Louis Prette’s time of 3:56.623 propelled the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE EVO to the top spot. Second place went to Prette, who was closely followed by the quick Belgian driver of the #21 AF Corse Ferrari, Ulysse de Pauw.

The orange #25 ORT by TF Sport Aston Martin was the fastest Aston Martin Vantage GTE in third, as Charlie Eastwood achieved the fourth-best time. Alessio Picariello drove the #60 Iron Lynx Porsche, which was the fifth-fastest of the Porsche 911 RSR-19s.

Fans of NASCAR Garage 56’s entry for this year, however, have excellent news to share.The #24 Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 appears to be quick compared to the other GTE Am cars. Particularly under the control of Jenson Button, whose blistering lap time of 3:56.880 placed him fourth fastest in the GTE Am classification order.

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