2017 FIA World Endurance Championship Le Mans Qualifying 1 - Craig Robertson
24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson

A red flag late in the previous session delayed the start of the first qualifying session whilst the barriers were repaired at Porsche Curves. The session finally got underway at 22:20 and would be cut short to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Timo Bernhard set the early pace, posting a time of 3:19.710 in the #2 Porsche 919, Buemi was just 3/100ths back, leading the three Toyota’s before Jani took third spot.

The 5 LMP1 Hybrids were split by just 2.1 seconds and trading purple sectors between themselves. Things were going to be closer than initially first thought. Kazuki Nakajima posted a time of 3:19.744 in the #8 Toyota with Nicolas Lapierre posting a time of 3:19.958, the top three were now split by just two tenths of a second. Dominik Kraihamer placed the ByKolles CLM at the back of the LMP1 field but well clear of the LMP2 competitors



ByKolles Racing Team, ENSO CLM P1/01-Nismo, LMP1, #4, Oliver Webb, Domink Kraihamer, Marco Bonanomi, <br />
24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson

The CEFC Manor Oreca #24 lead the LMP2 class with Jean Eric Vergne posting a time of 3:30.847 to go 2 tenths quicker than Thomas Laurent in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca.

The Cetilar Villorba Corse #47 Dallara was still suffering problems, the car crawled back to the pit lane early on in the session and disappeared back into the garage with a potential electrical problem.

With 20 minutes down, Kobayashi went quickest, setting purple times through sectors two and three to post a time of 3:18.793 in the #7 Toyota, going almost a second quicker than Timo Bernhard to take the first sub 3:19 of the weekend.




24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson

In LMP2, Vitaly Petrov made it a Manor 1-2 just a tenth slower than the sister car putting the Signatech Alpines fourth and fifth in class. The #37 Jackie Chan DC Oreca was back in the garage now with mechanics examining the engine bay. It was at this moment that the yellow zone on the Mulsanne was signalled. The #39 Graff Racing Oreca Gibson with Eric Trouillet at the wheel slammed into the barriers at the exit of the second Mulsanne chicane. The track went green at 22:50 but within a couple of minutes the yellow flags were back out and there was a yellow zone in place at Mulsanne Corner, the #27 SMP Dallara was on fire having hit the barriers. The Marshalls and Corner Workers quickly extinguished the flames. With 40 minutes gone, the #34 Tockwith Ligier was running slow down the Mulsanne, Chandhok managed to coax the car back to the pits as it was confirmed that the #37 Jackie Chan DC Oreca had experienced a fuel pump failure.


Jackie Chan DC Racing, Oreca 07-Gibson, LMP2, #38, Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent, <br />
24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson

The initial rapid pace slowed as the session progressed, with little improvement across both LMP fields. At the end of the first hour, it was still Toyota first, second and fourth with Porsche second and fifth. It was clear that the teams were currently more focused on getting their drivers valuable track time in the Le Mans darkness rather than going for out and out pace.

The only improvement of note was from the Brazilian Rubens Barichello who moved up into ninth in class in the Racing Team Nederland Dallara with a time of 3:33.796, still 3 seconds off the provisional pole pace. Bruno Senna went just over a second quicker in the next couple of laps to post a time of 3:32.626 and take ninth from Barichello. The #49 ARC Bratislava Ligier had a minor off at Tertre Rouge in the hands of Konstantins Calko who returned to the circuit with minor damage. The car was running 17th in LMP2 just behind Richard Bradley in the #40 Graff Oreca 07. With 30 minutes left on the clock, the top six were split by just a second in LMP2 and with 15 minutes to run, the times began to fall again. Vitaly Petrov going quickest by 95/1000ths, setting a time of 3:30.502. Bruno Senna then went quicker still just a lap later, breaking the 3:29 barrier with a time of 3:29.851, the time didn't stand for long however as Matthieu Vaxiviere went half a second quicker with a time of 3:29.333 before being parked up just a couple of moments later. With 5 minutes to run, Sebastien Buemi took to the wheel of the #8 TS050 in a late bid to take pole position but he could not do enough to improve over the time set by the #7 Toyota.



24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson

In GTE, Aston Martin ended the session holding provisional pole in both GTE Pro and GTE Am. Nicki Thiim opened the timings posting a 3:52.117 in the #95 Aston Martin Vantage with Sam Bird also breaking into the 3:52’s in the #71 Ferrari. James Calado took third early on with a time of 3:53.1 whilst Richard Leitz posted the first time for Porsche, a 3:54.5.

The #97 Aston jumped ahead of the Porsche and slow zones throughout the session brought out due to the incidents in LMP2 halted any further progress. Pedro Lamy led the way in GTE Am, setting a time of 3:55.2 leading the class from the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche and the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin.

The DH Racing Krohn liveried Ferrari sat fourth ahead of the Larbre Competition Corvette. More slow zones were called for around the hour mark with an LMP2 car on fire having hit the barriers. The GT classes went without incident with the exception of Tony Kanaan stalling the #68 Ford in the pitlane. As with LMP, the teams were focused on getting their drivers through the mandatory laps with no real intent of putting in qualifying laps.


Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR, LMGTE Pro, #92, Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre, Dirk Werner, <br />
24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson