Toyota 1–2-3 at Le Mans Test Day

Toy­ota Gazoo Rac­ing record­ed the fastest three times of the offi­cial Le Mans Test Day in prepa­ra­tion for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in two weeks’ time. In LMP2, Nel­son Pan­ci­ati­ci topped the time sheets for Sig­nat­e­ch Alpine Mat­mut, as the Ore­ca 07’s dom­i­nat­ed the test fill­ing the first 13 places in the stand­ings. The quick­est time in GTE Pro went to Corvette Racing’s Oliv­er Gavin, close­ly fol­lowed by the pair of works Porsches, while Pedro Lamy was the fastest man in GTE Am for the #98 Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing team.

WEC teams and dri­vers con­vened at the Cir­cuit de la Sarthe for the first oppor­tu­ni­ty to run on the full cir­cuit since last year’s race in bright and dry con­di­tions in west­ern France. LMP1 hon­ours went to Toy­ota Gazoo Rac­ing, albeit with all the works run­ners evi­dent­ly work­ing through their test­ing pro­grammes and not aim­ing for absolute best times. Still, Kamui Kobayashi and Sébastien Buemi’s fastest laps of 3:18.132 and 3:19.290 were impres­sive – with both laps sev­er­al sec­onds quick­er than the fastest time record­ed at the 2016 Le Mans Test Day (3:21.375) and even faster than Neel Jani’s 2016 Le Mans pole time of 3:19.783.

LMP2 was dom­i­nat­ed by Ore­ca-built chas­sis, with the #35 Sig­nat­e­ch Alpine Mat­mut of Nel­son Pan­ci­ati­ci, Pierre Ragues and Andre Negrao record­ing the quick­est time of 3:28.146 in the two four-hour ses­sions – a whop­ping 8.5 sec­onds quick­er than the fastest LMP2 time at last year’s Test Day! Jean-Eric Vergne and Alex Brun­dle were sec­ond and third fastest for the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Rac­ing and the #37 Jack­ie Chan DC Rac­ing respec­tive­ly.

Corvette Rac­ing upset the odds in GTE Pro, beat­ing the sea­soned WEC run­ners to the top of the tim­ing screens with a 3:54.701 cour­tesy of Brit Oliv­er Gavin. The pair of fac­to­ry Porsches were just two tenths slow­er over the course of the day, while the best AF Corse car lan­guished down in eight place.

GTE Am hon­ours went to the peren­ni­al­ly quick Pedro Lamy for the #98 Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing car, who record­ed a fastest time of 3:58.250 on lap 12 of his 16-lap run. Le Mans returnee Fer­nan­do Rees was in fine form for the #50 Lar­bre Com­pe­ti­tion team, with a fastest lap time just five hun­dredths slow­er than Lamy’s. Le Mans rook­ie Mat­teo Cairol­li round­ed out the top three in GTE Am with a best time of 3:58.449 for Dempsey-Pro­ton Rac­ing.

Teams now have one week to pre­pare for the big race, with scru­ti­neer­ing tak­ing place in Le Mans city cen­tre next Sun­day and Mon­day and track action kick­ing off on Wednes­day June 14th.

Images © WEC-Mag­a­zin / Wal­ter Schruff