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Kobayashi / Toyota Top the Time Sheets in FP1

(Photo: Roger Jenkins)

At the end of an interrupted first practice session for the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota topped the time sheets in the Hypercar class with a 3:28.467 in the #7 GT010. IDEC Sport was quickest in the LMP2 category with its #28 ORECA lapping in 3:37.044.

Lexus headed the LM GT3 timing screens with a 4:00.106 by the #78 RC F GT3.

The first practice session got underway at the Circuit de la Sarthe under almost perfect conditions as the 62 cars made their way on to the circuit.

After 20 minutes it was the Jose Maria Lopez, the last-minute replacement for the injured Mike Conway, at the wheel of the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010-Hybrid, who had set the quickest time with a 3:30.871 followed by Mirko Bortolotti in the Lamborghini Iron Lynx SC63 who put in 3:31.2036 LMGT3.R

The LMP2 class was led by Malthe Jakobsen in the #37 Cool Racing ORECA who lapped in 3:40.803 with Ben Hanley in the #23 United Autosports entry second quickest in class with a 3:41.202.

(Photp: Roger Jenkins)

In the LM GT3 class, on the first occasion that GT3 machinery has been seen racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the quickest time was set by Marino Sato in the #95 United Autosports McLaren 720S. Charlie Eastwood was second quickest with a 4:03.966 in the #81 TF Sport Corvette Z06 LMGT3.R followed by Johnny Laursen in the #155 Spirit of Race Ferrari 296 LMGT3.

The session was red-flagged after 40 mins with the #3 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R with Renger van der Zande behind the stopped out on the circuit between Arnage and Indianapolis.

With less than an hour and a half remaining, Race Control tested the new-for-2024 safety car procedure with three safety cars coming out on circuit before the field was merged behind one safety car. The three safety cars remained out to allow Race Control to simulate a race event before safety cars two and three returned to the pits, allowing the field to join up behind the first safety car. The procedure required considerable organisation to ensure safety and fairness.

The pass-around process began with less than an hour remaining and green flag running resumed with 48 minutes left on the clock in the three-hour session.

The #3 Cadillac got back out after stopping on circuit and causing the red flag with Renger van der Zande remaining behind the wheel.

As the session entered the final 45 minutes, the #7 Toyota had set the quickest time when Kamui Kobayashi lapped in 3:28.467 on his eighth tour.

AS the session entered the final 30 minutes, the session was neutralised with a full course yellow before green flag running resumed with just over 25 minutes left in the session.

A red flag in the final minutes due to an on-track incident involving the #37 Cool Racing LMP2 entry meant that the session was again neutralised.

The #6 Porsche was second quickest with a 3:29.205 followed by the #20 BMW.

The second practice session is due to get underway at 3.30pm this afternoon.