Toyota fastest in first qualifying session

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The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 of Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi has taken provisional pole for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, with two two-hour qualifying sessions set to follow tomorrow. In LMP2, a 3:29.333 for the #28 TDS Racing Oreca of Mathieu Vaxivière, Manu Collard and Francois Perrodo was quickest, while Aston Martin Racing topped the time sheets n both GTE Pro and GTE Am.

As with the previous Free Practice session, the first two hours of qualifying at the Circuit de la Sarthe offered perfect conditions for quick lap times. The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid had set an early benchmark time, but the Toyotas soon got into their stride, with Kamui Kobayashi and then Mike Conway setting times that ultimately wouldn’t be beaten.

Cooler temperatures on the track and in the ambient atmosphere were slightly more conducive to faster running, although a number of cars suffered issues throughout the session. Some experienced punctures and other temporary ailments, but there were more serious problems for the #27 SMP Racing Dallara, which caught fire at Mulsanne Corner just after halfway through the session. The #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara also had some issues at the start of qualifying, but driver Roberto Lacorte was able to recover the car to the pits after losing power coming into the pits.

Quickest in LMP2 was the #27 TDS Racing machine, which went half a second quicker than the #31 Vaillante Rebellion of Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal. Rounding out the top three was the #25 CEFC Manor TRS car of Simon Trummer, Roberto Gonzalez and Vitaly Petrov. Elsewhere, Aston Martin Racing went quickest in both GTE Pro and GTE Am, with the #95 car of Marco Sørsensen, Nicki Thiim and Richie Stanaway recovering from a puncture in the earlier FP session to score the fastest lap time of 3:52.117. Just 0.1 of a second further back was the #71 AF Corse machine of Davide Rigon, Sam Bird and Miguel Molina.

Provisional pole in GTE Am also went to Aston Martin Racing, with Pedro Lamy in the #98 machine going quickest with a 3:55.134. Half a second behind was the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, and the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin rounded out the top three in class. The next qualifying session is set to begin at 19:00 local time on Thursday evening.

Images (c) WEC-Magazin/Walter Schruff