Sebastien Buemi managed to put in the fastest time for Toyota in the first of two 4 hour test sessions on the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day.
He recorded a lap in 3:21.875 in the final minutes of the session and rounded the 13.626 Km Circuit des 24 Heures a second faster than Fernando Alonso in the sister Toyota. The second Toyota was the second fastest car, Jose Maria Lopez lapped the circuit in 3:22.027 which stood as the fastest overall time for most of the session before Sebastien Buemi went faster.
In the Privateer LMP1 class it was Gustavo Menezes in his Rebellion posting a 3:23.978 to keep the fastest of the Gibson powered Rebellion R13 s ahead of both SMP Racing BR1 cars powered by AER, and of the sister Rebellion car. These 4 privateer were split by only 1.4 seconds.
In LMP2 class it was ex F1 driver Pastor Maldonado in his DragonSpeed ORECA who topped the timing tables for almost the entire session ahead of a group of other ORECA cars until at the very end of the session his best time (3:32.244) was broken by just 2 thousandths of a second by Felipe Albuquerque in the United Autosports Ligier.
Further spoiling the ORECA dominance towards the end of the session was Nyck de Vries, the young Dutchman putting the Racing Team Netherlands Dallara fourth fastest behind Tristan Gommendy’s Graff ORECA.
The small number of incidents has shown the dramatic growth in reliability in the LMP2 Class;The Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA with Jordan King at the wheel stopped out on track and lost a lot of running time, and the IDEC ORECA driven by Paul-Loup Chatin went off into the barriers at Indianapolis.
GTE Pro Class:
The GTE Pro running order also changed at the end of the session as Antonio Garcia managed to put in a clean lap which got him right up the order with a 3:55.704 in his Corvette C7R. This time kept him just 0.024 clear of the Ford GT driven by Billy Johnson who also set his best time just before the chequered flag ended the first of the 2 test sessions in Le Mans.
The Corvette and the Ford were closely followed by the Porsche 911 RSR of Gianmaria Bruni and the two AF Corse Ferrari’s.The Top 7 of 17 cars in GTE Pro Class all lapped within a single second.
In terms of incidents we saw the Aston Martin Vantage AMR bring out a red flag after it stopped on track at the Porsche Curves with an electrical issue.
GTE Am Class:
In GTE Am Class it was the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Francesco Castellacci which topped for most of the session by 3:58.478 lap time produced in the early part of the session. This turned out to be more than fast enough to fend off the initial challenges brought on by the Dempsey Proton Porsches. But the gap to the Ferrari was over a second, Castellacci’s best putting him not only on top of GTE AM but also got him ahead of both factory Aston Martins and the BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE in the timing tables.
Towards the end of the session, other GTE Am cars had also improved their lap times with the Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Matthew Griffin, the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Jeffrey Segal) and the Car Guy Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Come Ledogar completing a Ferrari clean sweep of the top 4 times ahead of the Krohn Racing/Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR driven by Pat Long in the fastest of the Porsches.
- Photocredit: JJ Media / Motorsport Network / Fabrico Huet
- Full results of the first session can be found HERE
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