Louis Deletraz replied to Toyota’s dominance in the build-up sessions for the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the Swiss driver put Rebellion Racing on top in Thursday evening practice.
Deletraz produced a time of 3:19.158 behind the wheel of the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson to lead the four-hour night session which ended under a red flag.
Second-quickest was Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, 0.480 seconds off Deletrazs’ pace, while Gustavo Menezes beat the No. 8 Toyota to go third in Rebellion’s sister car.
FP3, which was the fourth session held on Thursday, provided the first instance of a non-hybrid LMP1 car managing to beat Toyota at this event, after the Japanese manufacturer commanded the two earlier Free Practice sessions as well as qualifying.
Duqueine Team’s Oreca 07 Gibson finished fifth in the overall leaderboard and first in LMP2, while European Le Mans Series teams filled out the top three in class.
After High Class Racing’s Kenta Yamashita paced FP1 and Nyck de Vries led both FP2 and qualifying for Racing Team Nederland, it was Tristan Gommendy who gave Duqueine the edge in the night.
The Frenchman came through on a 3:28.013 which ended up being nine-tenths quicker than the next-best time set by Job van Uitert in the No. 32 United Autosports Oreca.
G-Drive Racing’s Aurus-badged Oreca slotted into second, completing the top three of ELMS regulars, while the best of the full-time FIA World Endurance Championship competitors was the points-leading No. 22 Oreca from United Autosports.
Fastest in GTE-Pro was the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 which finished the session ahead of the two Aston Martin Racin Vantage GTEs.
Kevin Estre set the pace with a 3:52.177 flyer, although he also had to bring the car back to the pits at a crawl on one occasion after picking up a left-rear puncture.
Behind the Aston Martins, which ran to within half a second of Estre’s benchmark, was the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in fourth.
Kei Cozzolino prized out the leading time in GTE-Am aboard the MR Racing Ferrari, beating the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage and the No. 60 Iron Lynx Ferrari.
Night Incidents for Red River Sport, ByKolles
Free Practice 3 ended slightly earlier than planned after a red flag was called following a crash for Bonamy Grimes in the Red River Sport GTE-Am Ferrari.
The car that Grimes shares with Charlie Hollings and Johnny Mowlem appeared to hit the right-side barrier upon entry into the first Mulsanne chicane, which resulted in substantial front-end damage. Grimes was pictured walking away from the incident.
There was also a red flag earlier in the session for Bruno Spengler going off in the ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 Gibson at Tertre Rouge.
The car did not return to the track after Spengler brought it back to the pits with a scattered front end.
Additionally, a wild trip across the Ford Chicane run-off for Christian Ried prompted a Full Course Yellow just over an hour into the session to retrieve his stranded No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche.
Next up is Free Practice 4, starting on Friday morning at 10 a.m. CEST (4 a.m. EST) and lasting one hour.
RESULTS: Free Practice 3