24 Hours of Le Mans-Essais: Ferrari in front, Toyota worried


Less than a week before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the crews entered were able to try out the Sarthois track this Sunday during the test day. Ferrari moved to the top of the timesheet ahead of Porsche when Toyota had a tough day.

The week of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has officially started. While the Le Mans classic will celebrate its centenary next weekend, the 62 crews entered had two three-hour long sessions to try out the mythical 13.626 kilometer long course. Already in the lead at the end of the morning with a best time of 3’30”686 signed by the crew composed of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen at the wheel of the 499P bearing the number 50, Ferrari drove the point home in the afternoon. This time, it was number 51 entrusted to Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi which set the best time in 3’29”504.

But the differences are slim and reflect the adjustments made to the balance of performance before arriving in Sarthe. Kevin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor, driving the Porsche 963 bearing the number 6, conceded only 144 thousandths. Announced big favorite after dominating the first three rounds of the World Endurance Championship, Toyota was not at ease. Indeed, the GR010 Hybrid number 7, shared in particular by Mike Conway and José Maria Lopez in the absence of Sébastien Buemi, entered in Formula E this weekend in Jakarta, did not do better than the third time at 323 thousandths . However, the day was not easy for the Japanese manufacturer.

Ferrari solid, Toyota has cause for concern

Indeed, the GR010 number 7 then driven by Mike Conway went to the fault in the esses of the Forest at the end of the morning session. Technical director of the Japanese team, Pascal Vasselon agreed in remarks collected by the specialized site motorsport.com what ” it’s certainly not (their) best test day, but here we are, we have to put up with it and above all find solutions around our circumstances “. Indeed, compared to the last round contested at Spa-Francorchamps, the Toyota must carry 37 kilos of additional ballast with the aim of tightening the performance between the different prototypes.

In the LMP2 category, the JOTA team set the best time with David Heinemeier-Hansson, Oliver Rasmussen and Pietro Fittipaldi in 3’35”472. ATWith a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, the JMW Motorsport team dominated the LMGTE Am class with a best time of 3’56”088. A curiosity of this centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 usually entered in the NASCAR championship and entrusted to the trio made up of Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller and Jenson Button was a little more than two seconds ahead of the leader of this category. The teams will now have two days to analyze the data and refine the settings for the first free practice and qualifying, scheduled for Wednesday in Sarthe.

Ranking of the test day – Sunday, June 4, 2023
1- Ferrari AF Corse n°51 (Pier Guidi-Calado-Giovinazzi/ITA-GBR-ITA/Ferrari 499P) in 3’29”504
2- Porsche Penske Motorsport n°6 (Estre-Lotterer-Vanthoor/FRA-ALL-BEL/Porsche 963) at 0”144
3- Toyota Gazoo Racing n°7 (Conway-Kobayashi-Lopez/GBR-JAP-ARG/Toyota GR010 Hybrid) à 0”323
4- Ferrari AF Corse n°50 (Fuoco-Molina-Nielsen/ITA-ESP-DAN/Ferrari 499P) at 0”353
5- Porsche Penske Motorsport n°75 (Nasr-Jaminet-Tandy/BRE-FRA-GBR/Porsche 963) at 0”401

17- JOTA n°28 (Heinemeier Hansson-Rasmussen-Fittipaldi/DAN-DAN-BRE/Oreca 07-Gibson) at 5”968 (1st LMP2)

42- JMW Motorsport n°66 (Neubauer-Prette-Petrobelli/FRA-ITA-ITA/Ferrari 488 GTE EVO) at 26”584 (1st LMGTE Am)

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