The two Ferrari 499Ps entered by Ferrari AF Corse topped the time sheets in Wednesday’s red-flag interrupted 60-minute qualifying session to set the grid for the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and establish the eight quickest cars from each class who will fight it out in the Hyper pole session on Thursday.
The #50 Ferrari AF Corse 499P of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Niklas Nielsen went quickest overall, Fuoco setting a 3:25.213. The sister #51 Ferrari 499P, piloted by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, was second quickest, Pier Guidi lapping the 13.626 kms of the Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:25.412.
Current Le Mans Hypercar champions Toyota Gazoo Racing were third and fourth quickest with the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID setting a 3:25.485 in the hands of Kamui Kobayashi in the car he shares with Mike Conway and José Maria López. The sister #8 machine lapped in 3:25.749 with Brendon Hartley at the wheel to go fourth quickest.
The first of the new Porsche 963s was fifth quickest, Frederic Makowiecki lapping in 3:25.848, at the wheel of the #5 Porsche Penske Motorsport entry. The two Cadillac V-Series.Rs were sixth and seventh quickest. Sebastien Bourdais lapped the #3 Cadillac Racing entry in 3:25.924 while Earl Bamber set a 3:26.020 in the sister #2 entry.
The top eight entries in the Hypercar class that will go through to Thursday’s Hyperpole session were completed by a second Porsche Penske Motorsport entry; the #75 Porsche 963 in which Felipe Nasr lapped in 3:26.589.
In the LPM2 category, JOTA went quickest with a 3:34.751 set by its sole entry in the class, the #28 ORECA 07 followed by the #41 Team WRT ORECA driven by Louis Delétraz who lapped in 3:34.753.
The top three in the LMP2 class were completed by the #63 PREMA entry, Mirko Bortolotti putting in a 3:34.793 in the car he shares with Doriane Pin and Dani Kvyet.
In the GTE Am category Ferrari again took a 1 – 2 at the top of the timing screens with the #83 Richard Mille AF Corse 488GTE Evo setting a 3:52.877 in the hands of Alessio Rovera with the sister #54 entry driven by Davide Rigon lapping just four-tenths of a second slower.
Corvette Racing filled the third quickest slot with Nicky Catsburg setting a 3:35.228 in the #33 C8.R
The session saw two red-flag neutralisations, the first following contact between Filipe Albuquerque in the #22 United Autosports ORECA and Matthieu Vaxivière in the #36 Alpine ORECA. The session was halted for ten minutes before qualifying resumed but was quickly followed by a further red flag when Malthe Jakobsen went off at Indianapolis at the wheel of #37 Cool Racing ORECA.
Hertz Team JOTA endured a frustrating session when problems with the hybrid unit in the #38 Porsche 963 meant that Will Stevens had to return to the garage following his out lap. The team worked on the car for the remainder of the session and got it back out on track before the chequered flag but with insufficient time to complete a flying lap. As a result, the #38 car will start from the back of the Hypercar grid.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans grid has three further on-track sessions on Thursday June 8. There will be three-hour free practice session beginning at 3.00pm followed by the 30-minute Hyperpole session at 8.00pm. The day finishes with a final 60-minute practice session at 10.00pm.
The lights go out for the 2023 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 4.00pm on Saturday June 10.