Toyota N.8 leads after first free practice

Toyota N.8 leads after first free practice

New Zealander Brendon Hartley set a time of under 3min 30sec on a Toyota N.8 wheel while the Alps were disappointed at Sarthua.

The Toyota N.8 had its best time during the first free practice of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Wednesday at the end of the session, ahead of Glickenhaus, while the Alps disappointed, only seventh. With 3 minutes 29 seconds 441/1000, Brendon Hartley managed to complete a lap of less than 3 minutes 30 seconds at the wheel of a Toyota N.8, also driven by Swiss Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Ryo Hirakawa, and only Glickenhaus N. 709 succeeded in doing so before that. Twenty minutes before the time, the New Zealander was crowned the US national team, which made a good impression for his second participation at the Sarthe circuit. N.709 dominated the first long free practice, with 3 min 29 sec 917/1000, ahead of its sister car N.708 (3 min 30 sec 102/1000).

Behind this trio of supercars, the LMP2 – lower class – United Autosport N.23 car impressed with 3m30s 238/1000, the time set by Britain’s Alexander Lane, to finish just before Toyota’s N.7 win last year. The Alpine N.36, the fifth supercar and the only car entered by the French team, on the other hand, finished eighth with 3m:32s 075/1000, behind two other LMP2s: the Jota N.38 and Prema Orleans N. 9. Even the Alps had a technical problem during the last hour, when Mathieu Vaccier was driving. The Frenchman had to get back into the pits at a slow pace. Despite the menacing gray clouds, only a few drops of rain fell at the beginning of the session.

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In the evening, the first qualifying session, scheduled for 7pm, will be another indication of Le Mans’ power balance: the six fastest cars in each of the four categories (Hypercar, LMP2, LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am) will qualify for Hyperpole, Thursday at 8:00 p.m., which will mark the first places on the network. However, in Class One, all crews will automatically qualify since there are only five cars entered.

Free Practice Rating 1:
1. Sebastian Buemi – Ryo Hirakawa – Brendon Hartley (SUI-JPN-NZL / Toyota N.8 / Hypercar / hybrid) 3: 29.441

2. Ryan Briscoe – Richard Westbrook – Franck Mailleux (AUS-GBR-FRA / Glickenhaus N.709/Hypercar) 3: 29.917

3. Olivier Pla – Romain Dumas – Felipe Derani (FRA-FRA-BRE / Glickenhaus N.708 / Hypercar) 3: 30.102

4. Alexander Lane – Oliver Jarvis – Joshua Pearson (GBR-GBR-USA / United Autosports N.23 / LMP2) 30: 30.238

5. Mike Conway – Kamui Kobayashi – Jose Maria Lopez (GBR-JPN-ARG / Toyota N.7 / Hypercar / Hybrid) 3: 30.403

33. Antonio Garcia – Jordan Taylor – Nikki Katsberg (ESP-USA-NLD / Corvette N.63 / LMGTE Pro) 3: 53.250

39. Cooper Macneil – Julien Andlauer – Thomas Merrill (USA-FRA-USA / Weathertech N.79 / LMGTE Am) 3: 55.082

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