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Jani Smashes Lap Record for Provisional Pole at Le Mans

Jani blitzes track record for provisional pole at Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Neel Jani has easily set a new lap record at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Wednesday’s first two-hour qualifying session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to score the provisional pole in the session that may well set the grid for this weekend’s race.

The previous mark had been a 3:18.513 by Stephane Sarrazin set in 2008, with a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, while last year’s pole time was a 3:21.789 by Kazuki Nakajima in the Toyota TS040 Hybrid.

With weather uncertain for Thursday’s sessions, as the track and ambient temperatures are expected to be hotter and with rain still possible, conditions were ideal for drivers and cars to set their best laps in cooling temperatures and a dry track.

It didn’t take long for the lap record to fall, as first Timo Bernhard and then Jani immediately blitzed Sarrazin’s previous mark.

Bernhard took the red No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid to 3:17.767 to open the session, with Jani blowing past him by a further eight tenths on his first flying lap, at 3:16.887 in the black No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

It put the two Porsches on the front row from the off, with Nick Tandy bringing the third Porsche into the top three 25 minutes into the session after his first flying lap of 3:19.297.

The three Audis were next, with Loic Duval best of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattros in fourth place at 1:19.866 in the No. 8 car. The Nos. 9 and 7 Audis were fifth and sixth.

Benoit Treluyer had an incident just shy of the one-hour mark in the No. 7 Audi, following a spin on corner exit in the first chicane on the Mulsanne straight.

Another Frenchman, in the form of race debutante Gaetan Paletou in the No. 41 Greaves Motorsport Gibson 015S Nissan, had an incident at Mulsanne corner at the end of the straight.

Paletou’s incident brought out the first and only red flag of the session with an hour and one minute remaining, and lasted until 11:25 p.m. A notice from the stewards was released that read, “Due to local law, session must end at midnight 24:00.”

Toyota was unable to better a 3:23.543 in the session, with the No. 2 Toyota TS040 Hybrid driven by Stephane Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz and Mike Conway ending in seventh.

The fastest of the debuting Rebellion R-One AERs got into the 3:26 range, with the No. 12 car at 3:26.874, while the best Nissan, the No. 23 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, posted a best time of 3:38.468.

Richard Bradley set the early mark in LMP2 with the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan at 3:38.032, and his lap was not eclipsed for the rest of the session. Bradley shares the car with Matthew Howson and Nicolas Lapierre.

The pair of Gibson 015S Nissans were second and third in class, with the No. 41 Greaves car ahead of the No. 38 Jota Sport car. The fastest of the Ligier JS P2 Nissans was the No. 26 G-Drive Racing entry in fourth.

Aston Martin swept the GTE classes, with Richie Stanaway and Pedro Lamy quickest in GTE-Pro and GTE-Am, respectively.

Stanaway took the No. 99 Hanergy-backed Aston Martin Vantage V8 to the overall best time in GTE with a 3:54.928, and Lamy was only 0.174 of a second behind at 3:55.102 in one of the three Gulf-liveried cars, the No. 98 Aston Martin.

The defending Le Mans-winning No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia was second in GTE-Pro, ahead of the two remaining Aston Martins and No. 63 Corvette C7.R.

Two further qualifying sessions follow on Thursday, from 7 to 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. local time.

RESULTS: First Qualifying

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to NBCSports.com and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Jordan

    June 10, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    And it’s a NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW track record!

  2. Guilherme

    June 10, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Oh. My. GOSH. I think I’m seeing things. A 3:16.887!!! And only on the FIRST of the three sessions! Imagine what’s in store for Thursday! The ACO surely must rethink its decision of limiting the P1’s performance.

    • David

      June 10, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Agreed! More speed please! Let them REV it up! Wonder what an F1 car would do there. They were close at Silverstone! Love it!

  3. powderedtoast

    June 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Mother of god.

  4. Joseph

    June 10, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Sucks that next year the cars will be slower so this year it’s time to watch records fall

  5. kapaprieto

    June 10, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Hello Fans.

    Last weekend during the Canadian Grand Prix, the fastest F1 Car, during qualifying, hit 211 MPH. During the test session on the 31 of May, I think it was one of the Nissan GT_R car, hit 208. But again, take a look at todays times, much faster than the test session on the 31 of May.

  6. Ric

    June 10, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Can we stop with the F1 comparisons? We want WEC fans to be WEC fans, not disgruntled F1 fans. WEC doesn’t have to be “better” than F1 to be relevant.

    • Jarier

      June 11, 2015 at 7:41 am

      Well said

    • Paul B.

      June 11, 2015 at 11:07 am

      I think it’s a testament to the awesomeness of the LMP-1H cars that they are nearly as fast as F1 cars and that’s certainly worth discussing.

  7. Jessie

    June 11, 2015 at 1:02 am

    Nissan still slower than fastest LMP2

  8. HenzlerTsui

    June 11, 2015 at 2:15 am

    Amazing record, best luck this weekend,
    anyway sorry to see those AAI Porsche’s time, hope they find their pace soon.

  9. Paul Smith

    June 11, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Whats the difference between the two Astons’ in GTAM?

  10. chopper T

    June 11, 2015 at 7:27 am

    The number 18 has a special place in my heart. It was the day I was born on, it was my racing number in the Prod Saloon series I ran in, but most importantly, it was the number of my hero, Pedro Rodriguez ion the long tail 917 LH JW Racing Gulf Porsche at Le Mans 1971. Hope this years version has more luck than Pedro had. Oh by the way, Happy 80th June 10, to Mr Vic Elford. He knew his way round there, slightly ! : )

  11. kapaprieto

    June 11, 2015 at 7:52 am

    David, I hope you get a good idea about your F1 question (see above). I understand is just a curiosity of some fans.

  12. Jarier

    June 11, 2015 at 10:11 am

    At this stage the Nissan cars do not qualify according to the regulations and can only race with clemency from the organizers

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