Kamui Kobayashi, driving the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid he shares with Mike Conway and José Maria López, went quickest in Free Practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the first track running for the 24 Hours grid since the Test Day on Sunday June 3.
Kobayashi lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:18.718, nearly half a second quicker than Sébastien Buemi in the #8 Toyota who put in a 3:19.275 in the car he shares with Kazuki Nakajima and McLaren Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, making his La Sarthe debut in 2018.
Completing the top three on the time-sheets in the premier category was the first of the non-hybrids, the #3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R13 in which Thomas Laurent lapped the 13.626 kms circuit in 3:19.426, laying a marker down as to how competitive the non-hybrid class will be in 2018.
The LMP2 class time-sheets were led Jean-Éric Vergne in the #26 G-DRIVE Racing Gibson-powered ORECA 07. Vergne’s team-mates for the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans are Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola.
Second quickest in the LMP2 class the #48 IDEC Sport ORECA 07 in which Paul-Loup Chatin put in a 3:27.054.
The LM GTE Pro category was confidently led by the three of the four Porsche GT Team entries with the #93 Porsche 911 RSR lapping in 3:50.121 to top the time-sheets in the hands of Partrick Pilet. Laurens Vanthoor was second quickest in the #92 entry with a 3:50.859 while the sister #91 entry was fractionally slower with a 3:50.862 in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni.
Porsche also topped the time-sheets in the LM GTE AM class with 3:52.903 from the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR driven by Matteo Cairoli in the car he shares with Khaled Al Qubaisi and Giorgio Roda.
There were struggles for the CEFC TRSM Racing Mecachrome-powered Ginetta G60-LT P1s, the #5 and #6 entries who, desperate to put some mileage on the new-for-2018 cars, managed five laps apiece.
The #4 Bykolles Racing Team Enso CLM P1/01 only managed three laps with a 3:23.795 being set by Tom Dillmann.
The four-hour session was conducted in warm and dry conditions with air temperatures reaching over 22 degrees and track temperatures peaking in excess of 30 degrees.
With the weather expected to revert to variable conditions on Thursday June 14 for the two qualifying sessions, it is likely that many teams will attempt an all-out qualifying lap as the temperatures start to drop for the two-hour qualifying session beginning at 22:00.