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 (c) WEC-Magazin / Walter Schruff