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Kobayashi Leads Toyota 1-2 in Free Practice

Toyota secures 1-2 in Free Practice as cars hit the track for the first time…

Photo: John Dagys

Kamui Kobayashi topped the timesheets in Wednesday afternoon’s four-hour Free Practice session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans as cars took to Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time.

Toyota Gazoo Racing finished the session on top with a best time of 3:18.718 from Kobayashi in the No. 7 car, while the sister Toyota TS050 Hybrid was classified second after a late flier from Sebastien Buemi.

The session was largely interrupted despite several cars going off track and bringing out Slow Zones at various stages, although there were no major interruptions.

Buemi moved the No. 8 Toyota into second soon before the finish by 0.557 seconds while Rebellion Racing and DragonSpeed were both close to the hybrid cars.

Thomas Laurent put the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson in third with a time just 0.708 seconds down on the lead car while Ben Hanley classified fourth for DragonSpeed.

SMP Racing followed in fifth and sixth ahead of the other Rebellion car and ByKolles Racing entry.

CEFC TRSM Racing has a difficult session with its pair of Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Mecachromes, which combined to log a total of 22 laps.

The No. 5 Ginetta stopped on track at Tertre Rouge in the first five minutes while neither car set lap times in the first half of the session.

Jean-Eric Vergne took G-Drive Racing to the LMP2 class lead late in the running, passing the IDEC Sport car which had been on top for most of the four hours. 

The Frenchman posted a best time of 3:26.529 in the No. 26 TDS Racing-run Oreca 07 Gibson.

Orecas populated the top five positions in class while United Autosports had the best-placed Ligier JS P217 Gibson in sixth.

Porsche 1-2-3 in GTE-Pro

Porsche dominated the GTE-Pro class, although the lead switched between its cars until Patrick Pilet set a time of 3:50.121 in the No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR near the end of the four-hour session.

Pilet’s lap beat last year’s polesitter Darren Turner’s time by seven-tenths.

The German manufacturer swept the top three positions while the No. 66 Ford GT and No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE were fourth and fifth.

Dempsey-Proton Racing and Matteo Cairoli topped the GTE-Am category with a quickest time of 3:52.903 which put the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR 11th in the GTE-Pro field.

Several cars had off-track excursions during the session with minimal damage although a spin at Indianapolis for the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca was the most notable incident.

The first of three qualifying sessions is set to get underway at 10 p.m. local time and runs through midnight.

RESULTS: Free Practice

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.


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