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24H Le Mans

Lopez Heads Toyota 1-2 in Final Practice

Jose Maria Lopez leads the charge for Toyota as Le Mans practice comes to a close…

Photo: Toyota

Jose Maria Lopez set the fastest time in the fourth and final practice session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which took place under the cover of darkness.

Lopez topped the one-hour session by setting a 3:28.322 behind the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid during the second of two night practice sessions at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The Argentinean set his time early on, with teammate Sebastien Buemi setting a 3:28.684 roughly half an hour later to move the No. 8 Toyota up into second place.

Richard Westbrook was third, with the No. 709 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo 2,5 seconds behind Lopez and the sister car of Pipo Derani and Alpine’s Andre Negrao.

United Autosports was fastest in the LMP2 category courtesy of a 3:32.266, set by the No. 23 Oreca 07 Gibson piloted by Alex Lynn.

Lynn led Panis Racing’s Job van Uitert by 0.196 seconds, with JOTA’s Jonathan Aberdein rounding out the top three.

Aberdein’s stablemate Antonio Felix da Costa, driving the No. 38 Oreca, had a notable brush with the No. 3 DKR Engineering Oreca of Alexandre Cougnaud that resulted in both cars briefly going off track.

This incident, along with an off-track moment for Graff’s David Droux at Mulsanne, were the only notable moments in a relatively quiet session.

Droux’s No. 39 Oreca hit the gravel and made light contact with the barrier. The French squad had limited running for the second session in a row after it had a more significant impact at Indianapolis during third practice earlier in the day.

The squad did not complete any timed laps during the remainder of the session, similarly to Riley Motorsports, both TF Sport Aston Martins, Team Project 1’s No. 46 Porsche 911 RSR-19 and TDS Racing, which all completed no laps.

In GTE-Pro, Corvette Racing continued to lead the way with Nicky Catsburg quickest aboard the No. 64 Corvette C8.R by reeling off a best lap of 3:52.710.

The Dutchman outpaced Tommy Milner’s sister Corvette by 0.021 seconds, leading the two Porsches of Gianmaria Bruni and Laurens Vanthoor.

AF Corse ended the session fifth and sixth with its pair of Ferrari 488 GTE Evos, driven by Miguel Molina and James Calado, respectively.

Dempsey-Proton Racing led the GTE-Am ranks with its two cars, with Harry Tincknell leading Jan Heylen.

Heylen initially posted the fastest time of the class in the No. 88 Porsche, before the Briton improved and set a 3:55.067 in the sister No. 77 car to go quickest.

Louis Prette set the third fastest time for AF Corse in the No. 61 Ferrari, which took class pole in Hyperpole in the hands of Vincent Abril earlier in the evening.

Prette did bring the car to a halt on the main straight in the closing minutes of the session.

Nick Cassidy was fourth in the No. 54 Ferrari, with Mikkel Jensen fifth for Kessel Racing.

With all practice sessions now completed, drivers will return to the track for the pre-race warmup at 10:30 a.m. CEST (4:30 ET) on Saturday morning.

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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