2017 FIA World Endurance Championship Le Mans Qualifying 3 - Race Photography
Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota TSO50-Hybrid, LMP1, #7, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Stephane Sarrazin, <br />
24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson

Toyota were straight to the top of the time sheets at the start of qualifying session three, Nakajima posted a time of 3:17.128 just a couple of minutes into the session. By the end of the session, the time was good enough to take second place and seal a Toyota one-two and possibly a top three lock down. Lapierre went purple in Sector 1 early on in the session but was unable to take top spot. Ten minutes into the session and Matthias Beche took the #13 Vaillante Rebellion through to third in LMP2 with a revised best of 3:26.811, just before an incident for the GTE-Am Ferrari paused the session.


With the session back to green, Lapierre was back out pushing hard in the #9 car, making a small mistake at Mulsanne Chicane as he locked up and went straight on. In LMP2, Alex Lynn broke the LMP2 lap record again, the #26 G-Drive car posting a time of 3:25.352, 7 second up on the previous lap record and faster than the 2011 LMP1 pole time set by Benoit Treluyer in the Audi R18-E-tron Quattro! “What a great night to be a racing driver – the fastest night in Le Mans history,” said Alex Lynn on Radio Le Mans: “We’ve got a tail wind down the Mulsanne, and a headwind through the Porsche curves, but put together with a resurfaced Bugatti Circuit and we’ve got perfect conditions.” The #37 JCDC car currently sat sixth whilst the #35 Signatech Alpine was ninth. The ARC Bratislava Ligier JSP217 suffered an alternator problem on Wednesday evening and had an unfortunate recurrence of the same problem tonight. The team announced that the car would not be out again in qualifying and they would be starting their focus on preparation for the race.


Ollie Webb put the #4 ByKolles back in touch with the other LMP1 cars and clearly ahead of the LMP2 front runners with a time of 3:24.744. Webb continued to improve, going half a second quicker next time around.

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

Into the final hour of qualifying, the #39 Graff Oreca was back on track, claiming ninth place in class with a time of 3:28.368 meaning that the first thirteen positions in LMP2 were all Oreca 07’s.


Meanwhile, the #2 Porsche was crawling towards Indianapolis before the lights went out and the car came to a stop. The engine in the #2 Porsche was over heating and when Hartley slowed to let the car cool down, there was an issue with the battery.


20 minutes to run and the United Autosports LMP2 took 13th in class with a 3:29.151, the fastest non Oreca chassis. Bruno Senna took third in class in the #31 Rebellion with a time of 3:26.736 but was knocked back in to fourth by Ho-Pin Tung who posted a time of 3:25.911.


In to the final 10 minutes of the session and Mikail Aleshin put the #27 SMP Racing Dallara into the top 10, the first non-Orca chassis to breach the top 10.

In GTE, Aston Martin and Larbre Competition topped both GTE categories, the fastest times were both qualifying lap records set in the final part of qualifying. Corvette finally showed their true potential, Tommy Milner going second in class in the #64. Townsend Bell got the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari around the circuit in a time of 3:53.312. Before anyone could mount a challenge, Francesco Castellaci had an off at Dunlop in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari.  Antonio Garcia got the #63 Corvette up into fourth in GTE Pro with a time of 3:52.089 as Lamy kept the #98 Aston in with a chance in GTE Am, jumping to top of the class with a time of 3:53.233.


In GTE Pro, Michael Christensen and Antonio Garcia traded fastest times, the pole time now down to 3:51.484 for Garcia. Ex Aston Martin driver Fernando Rees put the Larbre Competition Corvette art car on pole in GTE Am and quicker than the #67 Ford with a time of 3:52.843. Until this point, all four Fords were at the bottom of the class before Ryan Briscoe put in a time of 3:51.232 to take provisional pole.



Corvette Racing - GM, Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, LMGTE Pro, #63, Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, <br />
24 Hours of Le Mans  <br />
Le Mans  <br />
Circuit de la Sarthe  <br />
France  <br />
© Craig Robertson

Darren Turner put the #97 third in class with a time of 3:51.619 but was knocked into fourth almost immediately by Richie Stanaway in the #95 Aston who took the class record with a time of 3:51.038.


The Fords had filled the bottom slots in the class for the majority of the sessions until then, but with just over an hour of qualifying left, Ryan Briscoe clocked a 3.51.232 to move into provisional pole. There was no immediate challenge to that and the next time of note was Darren Turner’s 3:51.619 to put the #97 Aston third in the class.That rapidly became fourth, however, when Richie Stanaway in the #95 completed the set of class qualifying records broken by doing a 3:51.038. At this point in time, the GTE Pro field was split by 1.5 seconds. With less than 20 minutes to go, Turner responded to Stanaway’s lap record, going faster again with a time of 3:50.837. Stefan Mucke took fifth in GTE Pro with 11 minutes on the clock, James Calado took second with a time of 3:51.028 and Sam Bird took fourth late in the session with a time of 3:51.086.