This is the opportunity for teams and drivers to discover the track for the first time in 2019, to find their marks around the 13.6 km circuit which largely uses public roads, and to work on set up and tyre evaluations.
Under warm temperatures and blue skies, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 8 TS050 HYBRID of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso set the pace with a time of 3:21.875. The sister Toyota, driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, made it two Toyotas out front in LMP1, the No.7 crew just 0.152s behind their team-mates.
Third quickest in LMP1 and fastest out of the non-hybrid cars was Rebellion Racing’s No. 3 R13 Gibson, 0.463s ahead of SMP Racing’s No. 11 BR Engineering BR1-AER entry driven by Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin and Stoffel Vandoorne – the latter making his Le Mans debut.
The No. 22 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson entry proved to be the car to beat in the highly competitive LMP2 category which has a total of 20 entries. Filipe Albuquerque posted a time of 3:32.242 for the Anglo-American squad, a mere 0.002s ahead of the WEC’s No. 31 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 Gibson of Roberto Gonzales, Pastor Maldonado and Anthony Davidson. Racing Team Nederland’s No. 29 Dallara P217 Gibson was fourth quickest overall and second fastest in WEC, the driver trio posting a time of 3:32.628. TDS Racing’s No. 28 ORECA 07 was third fastest WEC car and sixth fastest overall. The top six LMP2 cars were separated by less than 0.9s at the end of the four-hour session.
LMGTE Am saw the No.54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE consistently top the timesheets this morning, despite the car going off into the gravel towards the end of the session. Francesco Castellacci posted a time of 3:58.478, 0.952s faster than the No. 61 Clearwater Racing crew who were second overall. Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 car was third fastest out of the WEC LMGTE Am entries, and fifth quickest overall.