Porsche Penske Motorsport takes pole at Le Mans

Le Mans - photo by Melissa Warren

Eight Hypercars representing five manufacturers, eight Oreca 07-Gibson LMP2s and eight LMGT3s built by seven different carmakers qualified for the 30-minute Hyperpole session to secure pole position in the three classes. Sadly for Hertz Team Jota, Callum Ilott’s crash at the end of the second free practice put the #12 Porsche 963 out of the running.

With less than seven-tenths separating the top eight Hypercars in qualifying, it was anyone’s guess who was going to come out of Hyperpole on top of the pack.

The fastest qualifier, the #15 BMW M Hybrid V8, led the pack out onto the track at 20:35. On the first flying lap, Ferrari AF Corse put both cars at the top of the time chart ahead of Dries Vanthoor in the BMW.

Sébastien Bourdais in the #3 Cadillac, however, leaped to the top on lap 3, but the Le Mans-born racer was just warming up for the following lap which he completed in 3:24.816, almost eight-tenths faster than Fuoco.

With barely 07:41 left on the 30-minute countdown, Dries Vanthoor crashed out at Indianapolis, bringing out a red flag. His times were deleted, relegating BMW W Team WRT to last place in the Hyperpole field.

Fuoco was left equally frustrated by the red flag as he was extremely well positioned to seize the top spot. There was barely time to complete two laps as the session resumed, but the action was not over.

Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 Ferrari leapfrogged Fuoco in the sister car into P2, before Alex Lynn in the #2 Cadillac and then Kévin Estre pulled out the fastest laps of the session on the final lap. The #6 works Porsche 963 will start the 92nd 24 Hours of Le Mans in pole position.

Hypercar results

#6 Porsche 963 – Porsche Penske Motorsport – Estre*/Lotterer/Vanthoor – 3:24.634

#2 Cadillac V-Series.R – Cadillac Racing – Bamber/Lynn*/Palou – 3:24.782

#3 Cadillac V-Series.R – Cadillac Racing – Bourdais*/van der Zande/Dixon – 3:24.816

#51 Ferrari 499P – Ferrari AF Corse – Pier Guidi*/Calado/Giovinazzi – 3:25.156

#50 Ferrari 499P – Ferrari AF Corse – Fuoco*/Molina/Nielsen – 3:25.598

#35 Alpine A424 – Alpine Endurance Team – Chatin*/Habsburg-Lothringen/Milesi – 3:25.713

#12 Porsche 963 – Hertz Team Jota – Stevens/Nato/Ilott – DNS

#15 BMW M Hybrid V8 – BMW M Team WRT – Vanthoor*/Marciello/Wittmann – Times cancelled

Spike takes pole in LMP2

Four Pro/Am crews lined up among the eight LMP2 qualifiers. Louis Delétraz recorded the quickest early mark for AO by TF on lap 3 in a time for 3:33.994, ahead of COOL Racing’s Malthe Jakobsen. After the late restart, Job Van Uitert stole top spot for IDEC Sport but “Spike” had the final word, as Delétraz regained the lead.

LMP2 results

#14 Oreca 07-Gibson – AO by TF (PRO/AM) – Hyett/Delétraz*/Quinn – 3:33.217

#28 Oreca 07-Gibson – IDEC Sport – Lafargue/van Uitert*/de Gerus – 3:33.827

#65 Oreca 07-Gibson – Panis Racing (PRO/AM) – Sales/Beche*/Huffaker – 3:34.053

#23 Oreca 07-Gibson – United Autosports USA (PRO/AM) – Keating/Albuquerque/Hanley* – 3:34.221

#22 Oreca 07-Gibson – United Autosports – Jarvis*/Garg/Siegel – 3:34.270

#37 Oreca 07-Gibson – COOL Racing – Fluxá/Jakobsen*/Miyata – 3:34.773

#33 Oreca 07-Gibson – DKR Engineering (PRO/AM) – Mattaschull/Binder/Hörr* – 3:35.699

#10 Oreca 07-Gibson – Vector Sport – Cullen/Pilet*/Richelmi – 3:35.855

Iribe fastest in the Inception Racing McLaren in LMGT3

Reserved for Bronze category drivers to throw the spotlight on amateurs, the first-ever LMGT3 Hyperpole at Le Mans saw the #70 McLaren of Inception Racing dominate the early proceedings with the fastest time for Iribe before the American hit a kerb hard at the Raccordement on lap 4, as he was poised to improve his benchmark.

He managed to maintain an eight-tenth of a second gap over Aliaksandr Malykhin in the Manthey PureRxcing Porsche through to the chequered flag.


#70 McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo – Inception Racing – Iribe*/Millroy/Schandorff – 3:58.120

#92 Porsche 911 GT3 R LMGT3 – Manthey PureRxcing – Malykhin*/Sturm/Bachler – 3:58.928

#66 Ferrari 296 LMGT3 – JMW Motorsport – Petrobelli*/ten Voorde/Yoluc – 3:58.938

#77 Ford Mustang LMGT3 – Proton Competition – Hardwick*/Robichon/Barker – 3:59.443

#27 Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGT3 – Heart of Racing Team – James*/Mancinelli/Riberas – 3:59.655

#777 Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGT3 – D’Station Racing – Hoshino*/Bastard/Sørensen – 4:02.787

#82 Corvette Z06 LMGT3.R – TF Sport – Koizumi*/Baud/Juncadella – 4:03.681

#60 Lamborghini Huracán LMGT3 Evo2 – Iron Lynx – Schiavoni*/Cressoni/Perera – 4.06.495

Le Mans 24 Free Practice 3

The majority of the 62 teams made the most of another three hours of track time to learn more about the iconic Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans. Fine-tuned preparation is all-important in a 24-hour race like this.

Rookies in particular need all the practice they can get on a circuit that combines permanent racetrack and long portions of public road used by everyday motorists.

While some crews have worked on rectifying issues identified during Wednesday’s five hours of free practice and 60 minutes of qualifying, others have focused on getting the car ready for Saturday’s start.

Light cloud cover and an air temperature of 20°C welcomed the competitors on this Thursday afternoon. Before the green flag, 23 competitors received notice of a 5-minute stop and hold penalty for yellow flag infringements.

Among the Hypercars to dip early under the 3:30 bar were the #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid driven by José María López, the #51 Ferrari 499P with birthday boy James Calado at the wheel and the #311 Cadillac V-Series.R driven by Whelen Cadillac Racing’s Jack Aitken.

They were soon joined by Andrea Caldarelli in the #19 Lamborghini SC63, Mick Schumacher in the #36 Alpine A424, Felipe Nasr in the #4 works Porsche 963 and the #2 Cadillac driven by Alex Palou. After an hour of the session, ten competitors from six different manufacturers were within a second of the #2 Cadillac’s benchmark.

Never before has this famous old race been so closely contested by so many.

Sébastien Buemi, sitting in second position in the afternoon’s session, encountered a touch of trouble pitting the #8 Toyota, but managed to get the wheels back on the straight and narrow.

With a shade under 40 minutes left in the session, Kévin Estre in the #6 works Porsche was the first of the day to go under 3:28, followed shortly afterwards by Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid.

At the end of the session, Sébastien Bourdais in the #3 Cadillac and Dries Vanthoor, fastest qualifier in the #15 BMW, improved their times but last year’s polesitter Antonio Fuoco finally snatched the fastest time in the #50 Ferrari 499P.

Mixed fortunes for Panis in LMP2

Early LMP2 pacemakers included Ben Barnicoat in the AF Corse #183 Pro/Am entry and Maceo Capietto in the #9 Proton Competition Oreca, before Frederik Vesti in the #47 COOL Racing machine jumped to the top of the timesheet, going round in 3:37.342.

As the hour mark approached, however, Matt Bell had a moment after taking over the wheel of the #47, running off into the gravel at Indianapolis. A slow zone was introduced from Mulsanne Corner to Arnage while the #47 Oreca was lifted out of the gravel.

With just under an hour left in the session, Mathias Beche in the Panis Racing #65 Oreca shaved a fraction off the COOL Racing #47 prototype’s mark, taking the top spot in 3:37.217. 

Malthe Jakobsen crawled back to the pits in the #37 COOL Racing entry – fastest qualifier in the class on Wednesday – while Louis Delétraz had great trouble sticking to the racing line in the AO by TF “Spike” Oreca.

United Autosports’ Oliver Jarvis echoed many others in reporting that the drivers were struggling with grip. The session’s leading Panis Racing LMP2, driven by American Scott Huffaker, skirted off into the gravel and into the barrier at Indianapolis.

McLaren fastest in LMGT3

In LMGT3, United Autosports’ Grégoire Saucy was the early pacesetter in this class in the #59 McLaren with a time of 3:57.558, with Claudio Schiavoni in the Iron Lynx #60 Lamborghini Huracán LMGT3 Evo2 just six-thousandths slower.

The #70 McLaren of Inception Racing spent much of the first hour in the pits. Driver Ollie Millroy explained that the mechanics had swapped many of the parts overnight in preparation for the race and the session would serve as a shakedown to check that everything is in good order for Saturday’s start. However, it would appear that issues remain as Fred Schandorff ground to a halt just after Mulsanne and the flat-bed truck was requisitioned.

A red flag was brandished eight minutes before the half-way point when James Cottingham got his line wrong coming out of the Forest Esses and crashed the #59 McLaren at Tertre Rouge.  The session returned to green after a 17-minute pause.

Fastest times in Free Practice 3


#50 Ferrari 499P – Ferrari AF Corse – Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen – 3:27.283


#65 Oreca 07-Gibson – Panis Racing (PRO/AM) – Sales/Beche/Huffaker – 3:37.217


#59 McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo – United Autosports – Cottingham/Costa/Saucy – 3:57.558 By Melissa Warren

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