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Aston Martin Denies Ferrari Pole in GTE-Pro

Darren Turner gives Aston Martin Racing GTE pole at Le Mans…

Photo: Nick Dungan/AMR

Darren Turner gave Aston Martin Racing GTE-Pro class pole for 24 Hours of Le Mans on Thursday night with a record-setting time for a GTE car in the Circuit de la Sarthe’s current configuration.

Turner’s lap of 3:50.837 in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE was 0.191 faster than James Calado’s No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE and 1.3 seconds under Dirk Mueller’s 3:51.185 benchmark from last year.

The British manufacturer’s first GTE-Pro pole at Le Mans since 2015 was made all the sweeter as Richie Stanaway took third in the No. 97 Aston Martin, just one-hundredth of a second behind Calado.

Sam Bird improved to fourth in the closing stages in the second AF Corse Ferrari, surpassing Ryan Briscoe in the No. 69 Ford GT and Antonio Garcia’s No. 64 Corvette Racing C7.R.

On its first outing at Le Mans, the best of the mid-rear engine Porsche 911 RSR GTEs finished seventh in the hands of Michael Christensen.

Defending event winners Mueller and Joey Hand could only muster 12th in the No. 68 Ford alongside rookie Tony Kanaan, with 1.7 seconds separating the entire class down to 13th placed Fred Makowiecki in the second Porsche.

In GTE-Am, Fernando Rees showed Larbre Competition’s test day form was no fluke as he took the French team’s Corvette C7.R to pole position in GTE-Am.

It was Larbre’s first Le Mans class pole since 2007 with an Aston Martin DBR9 in GT1.

Rees was just 0.3 seconds slower than Makowiecki’s GTE-Pro car and the same margin clear of Pedro Lamy’s No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE.

Townsend Bell ended the session third in the No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE, while rookie Matteo Cairoli made it four different manufacturers in the top four positions in the older-generation Porsche 911 RSR GTE entered by Dempsey-Proton Racing.

The next opportunity teams will have to hit the track will come on Saturday morning with a 45-minute warm-up session, before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET).

RESULTS: Qualifying

James Newbold (@James_Newbold) is a UK-based freelance motorsport journalist. A graduate of Politics and International Relations, James is also the editor of Autosport Performance.


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