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24H Le Mans

Lopez Paces Opening Test Day Session; Trouble for Porsche

Toyota narrowly sandwiches Glickenhaus in first test day session; drama for Porsches…

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez led the opening session of the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day, while both Porsche GT Team cars notably encountered trouble.

Lopez produced a time of 3:31.626 in the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid to lead the four-hour session, which saw multiple Hypercar entries spend time at the head of the order.

The Argentine driver set the provisional fastest lap with 17 minutes to go, very shortly after his Toyota teammate Brendon Hartley and Glickenhaus driver Romain Dumas dipped into the 3m 31s to knock the No. 7 down two pegs with half an hour remaining.

Lopez squeezed above Dumas by just 0.109 seconds, while Hartley took third with a time of 3:31.997 that left the No. 8 Toyota 0.351 seconds off the overall pace.

Franck Mailleux was fourth with a late 3:32.622 in the No. 709 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo, with Matthieu Vaxiviere rounding out the top five for Alpine Elf Team on a 3:32.793.

It took a little while for the Hypercar contenders to rise to the top, as several LMP2 cars clocked the fastest lap during the opening hour before Dumas came through. The Toyotas and the Alpine only emerged at the sharp end during the second hour.

Separate dramas affected the morning run, which was held in gloomy but dry conditions, for both factory-run Porsche 911 RSR-19s running in the GTE-Pro class.

The No. 92 car driven by Michael Christensen stopped with a left drive shaft failure early in the second hour, causing a slow zone at Tertre Rouge.

Around an hour later, the sister No. 91 Porsche went off at Mulsanne, with Gianmaria Bruni rejoining the track before parking up a few turns later at Indianapolis.

The car is understood to have locked up significantly into Mulannse. It was later transported back to the paddock with a deflated left-front Michelin tire.

Porsche placed third and fifth in the GTE-Pro times as Corvette Racing led the way.

Tommy Milner reeled off the 3:54.690 that put the No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R on top and was backed up by Nicky Catsburg who banked a 3:54.766 in the No. 63 machine.

Milner stopped on track in the closing stages due to his car running out of fuel.

Before his incident, Bruni came through in third on a 3:55.467, ahead of the independent Riley Motorsports Ferrari 488 GTE Evo which was Maranello’s quickest car in Pro.

The morning test pace in LMP2 was set by Will Stevens in the No. 38 JOTA Oreca 07 Gibson.

The British driver’s third-hour 3:33.964 marker sat just over two seconds off the overall pace, and a shade over a tenth quicker than the second-best time in class from United Autosports’ Phil Hanson.

TDS Racing X Vaillante, Inter Europol Competition’s No. 34 Oreca and Team Penske completed the top five.

Michelle Gatting climbed to the top of the GTE-Am leaderboard with a 3:55.678 behind the wheel of the Iron Dames Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

The Danish driver’s time put her No. 85 Ferrari ahead of the factory-driven No. 52 car which propped up the GTE-Pro order.

Absolute Racing’s No. 99 Porsche, the Car Guy/Kessel Ferrari and the No. 80 Iron Lynx Ferrari occupied the next three positions in GTE-Am.

Other incidents in the morning session included a red flag in the first 10 minutes due to the Panis Racing Oreca losing a wheel at the Daytona chicane on its out-lap.

A few slow zones peppered the rest of the running time, including an off-track moment for JMW Motorsport Ferrari driver Mark Kvamme at Dunlop and Eric Trouillet spinning his Graff Oreca into the gravel at the first chicane, along with the Porsche dramas.

The second four-hour Le Mans test day session starts at 2 p.m. CEST (8 a.m. ET).

RESULTS: Morning Session

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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