On a day when the weather stayed dry, in stark contrast to the deluge that interrupted the ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nürburgring the previous weekend, Audi Sport Team Joest topped the time sheets at the traditional Test Day held on the full 24 Hours Circuit de la Sarthe.
The day was divided into two four-hour sessions.
The morning session saw the #2 and #1 Porsche 919 Hybrids head the time sheets. Neel Jani set the fastest time of the session with a 3:22.334 in the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid followed by Mark Webber in the #1 car with a 3:22.555. Third and fourth quickest were the two Audi R18s. Marcel Fässler inj the #7 Audi R18 was third quickest with a 3:22.761 followed by Loïc Duval in the sister #8 car with a 3:22.797.
The two Toyota TS050 – Hybrids fought hard all morning. Anthony Davidson in the #5 car put in a 3:23.197 in the last laps of the morning session to go fifth quickest overall while Kamui Kobayasi put in a 3:23.721 in the #6 car to go ninth quickest.
In LMP2 ORECA chassis dominated the first three positions in the morning. The #36 Nissan –powered Signatech Alpine A460, based on an ORECA chassis, was quickest with a 3:37.397 set by Nicolas Lapierre. Second quickest was the #33 EURASIA MOTORSPORT ORECA 05 with a 3:37.543 set by Tristan Gommendy. Third quickest in the session was the Manor #44 ORECA 05, on its debut at Le Mans, with a 3:38.383 set by Roberto Mehri, a driver who only found he had the drive late in the preceeding week.
In LMGTE Pro the two Porsche Motorsport entries were quickest in the first session. Frédéric Makowiecki set the quickest time of the session in the #92 Porsshe 911 RSR with a 3:55.691 followed by Kevin Estre in the #91 car with a 3:56.202.
Third quickest in the morning was the #64 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin who set a 3:56.326.
The fastest of the Ford GTs, the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK car driven by Stefan Mücke was less than a second off the best time of the session and finished seventh quickest with a 3:56.680.
The #55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia set the quickest time for the LMGTE Am class in the morning with 3:58.869 with Matt Griffin at the wheel, followed by the #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia with a 3:58.981 set by Townsend Bell. Third quickest was the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 with a 3:59.237 set by Pedro Lamy.
After the lunch break, during which a number of team principals were summoned to Race Control to discuss infractions during the morning, the session resumed.
In the afternoon it was the #8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 that set the quickest lap of the day with Lucas di Grassi setting a 3:21.375 on his fifth lap. The two Porsches showed they had the pace to lead the field with the #1 Porsche Motorsport 919 Hybrid setting the second quickest time of the day when Mark Webber lapped in 3:22.270. The sister #2 car was third quickest with Neel Jani setting a 3:22.453.
IN LMP2 EURASIA MOTORSPORT again displayed its considerable pace by topping the class time sheets with a 3:36.690 in its Nissan-powered ORECA 05 with Tristan Gommendy at the wheel. The two G-Drive Racing entries had a successful afternoon when René Rast set the second quickest time of the afternoon with a 3:37.503 in the #26 ORECA 05.. The race-proven and 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Gibson 015s was third quickest with a 3:37.581 set by Jake Dennis, making his debut at the French classic.
In LMGTE Pro Corvette Racing had a solid afternoon, finishing first and third in the class timings. The #63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R set the fastest time of the session with a 3:55.122 with Antonio Garcia driving. The #64 sister car, with Oliver Gavin at the wheel, was third fastest with 3:55.837.
Splitting the Corvettes was the #91 Porsche Motorsport 911 RSR with Nick Tandy driving which set a 3:55.402.
Corvette success continued in LMGTE Am where the #50 Larbre Compétition Corvette C7.R set a 3:57.999m with Nicky Catsburg driving.
Overall, it was fascinating day of testing. As always, there was talk of ‘sand-bagging’ and teams not showing their true potential. However it is clear that all classes will be hotly contested and we will need to wait until Sunday morning on June 19 to see the true race pace of the entrants.
The 2106 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at 15:00 on June 18.