Porsche tops Le Mans test day
Porsche has ended the Le Mans Test Day on top, with two of the German manufacturer’s 919 Hybrids leading the way in both rain-affected sessions Sunday at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Brendon Hartley was quickest of the day, pedaling his No. 17 Porsche to a best lap of 3:21.061 early in the afternoon session.
The Kiwi’s time edged out teammate Neel Jani, whose 3:21.945 lap in the No. 18 Porsche from the morning held as the second best of the day, and resulting in a 1-2 sweep for the second-year LMP1 squad.
Both times came on a drying track, which was a rare occurrence over the eight hours of testing that was largely marred by mixed conditions.
Marco Bonanomi’s 3:22.307 lap from the morning in the No. 9 Audi R18 e-tron quattro held as the third quickest time overall, followed by Nick Tandy, who made it all three Porsches in the top-four overall.
The No. 7 Audi of Benoit Treluyer completed the top-five on the day, while the pair of Toyota TS040 Hybrids were seventh and eighth overall after not setting representative times.
The debuting Nissan GT-R LM NISMOs failed to crack the top-15 overall, with a 3:43.383 lap time set by Olivier Pla early in the day standing as the quickest of the front-engined, front-wheel drive prototypes.
Pla’s time was more than 20 seconds adrift from the pace-setting Porsches, following a challenging day for the Japanese manufacturer, which saw two of its cars stop on track, one which brought out a red flag.
There was also trouble for the ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01 AER, which had an early end to its day after engine-related issues triggered by a left-rear puncture late in the first session.
OAK Racing led the way in LMP2, with its Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 of Laurens Vanthoor quickest in class with a 3:41.919 lap time.
The Belgian’s time came in the opening moments of the first session, prior to undergoing an engine change and returning to action in the late afternoon with Vanthoor and co-driver Chris Cumming at the wheel.
The No. 36 Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan of Paul-Loup Chatin and the Karun Chandhok-driven No. 48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03R Nissan completed the top-three in class.
Aston Martin Racing swept both the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am categories, thanks to quick laps set in the tricky afternoon conditions.
Darren Turner took the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 to a best lap of 3:58.069, outpacing Oliver Gavin’s quick time from the morning by just 0.093 seconds.
Gavin ended the day second quickest in the No. 64 Corvette C7.R, with the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia of defending class winner Gianmaria Bruni third on the time sheets.
The FIA World Endurance Championship-leading No. 98 Aston, meanwhile, led the way in GTE-Am, thanks to a 3:59.338 lap time in the hands of Pedro Lamy.
A total of 64 cars turned laps on Sunday, including a handful of test day only entries. Fifty six entries will return in less than two weeks’ time for the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, set for June 13-14, with live coverage across the FOX Sports family of networks.