BMW head Qualifying ahead of Hyperpole shoot-out

Wednesday evening’s Le Mans qualifying session offered up yet another hour of frenzy and excitement at the Circuit de la Sarthe. With only the eight fastest cars in each class progressing to Thursday night’s Hyperpole – when the grid for the 24-hour race is finalised – the stakes for the 23 Hypercar competitors couldn’t have been higher.

#15 BMW through as fastest overall in qualifying

Dries Vanthoor put together the best lap of the session to put the #15 BMW M Hybrid V8 top of the timesheets. The Belgian posted a lap of 3:24.465 with just ten minutes of the session remaining.

Second-fastest was the #3 Cadillac, ahead of the #50 Ferrari in third. Also through to Hyperpole are the #7 Toyota, the #35 Alpine, the #2 Cadillac, the #51 Ferrari and the #6 Porsche. Of the manufacturers competing in Hypercar, only Peugeot, Isotta Fraschini and Lamborghini missed out on a Hyperpole spot.

Toyota lap times deleted after red flag

A spin by Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid in the Porsche Curves brought out the red flag with just minutes remaining. The Japanese driver had better the #15 BMW’s time in both of the first two sectors and may well have taken provisional pole had he completed the lap.

Unluckily for the Japanese manufacturer, the resulting yellow flag and subsequent red dashed teammate Brendon Hartley’s hopes of making the Hyperpole session in his #8 Toyota.

Hartley was among a number of high-profile entries to miss out on Thursday evening’s pole position shoot-out. Others who will take no further part in setting the grid include the #12 Hertz Team Jota Porsche – winners last time out in Spa – and the #5 Porsche, which took pole in both Qatar and Spa.

Things got worse for Toyota in the stewards room, with all of Kobayashi’s times during qualifying being deleted. The #7 Toyota will therefore start the race from the back of the Hypercar field. The stewards’ decision promoted the #12 Hertz Team Jota Porsche into P8, granting them a ticket to Hyperpole.

Ford quickest in LMGT3 qualifying

The #77 Ford Mustang LMGT3 was fastest in the LMGT3 category. British driver Ben Barker put the marker down early with a 3:55.263 that remained unbeaten for the remainder of the session.

There was also a mixed bunch of cars through to Hyperpole in the class, including the #82 TF Sport Corvette, the #60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini, the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari and both WEC-entered Aston Martins (#27 Heart of Racing and #777 D’Station Racing).

The current championship leaders in the #92 Manthey Purerxcing Porsche also made it safely through to Thursday’s Hyperpole.

COOL Racing top LMP2 timesheets

Young Danish star Malthe Jakobsen went quickest in LMP2 for the #37 COOL Racing squad. He was trailed by just a couple of tenths by Louis Delétraz in the purple-liveried #14 AO by TF entry.

United Autosports USA, Panis Racing, IDEC Sport, Vector Sport, DKR Engineering and United Autosports will join them in Hyperpole.

A full run-down of qualifying times is available here.

Hyperpole begins at 20:00 CEST on Thursday night. For a full list of the session times, check out of our race page. Keep track with all the action here on the WEC-Magazin Live Ticker.

Images © WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk)