24 Hours of Le Mans – Toyota Gazoo Racing lead the first Test Day session

24 Hours of Le Mans – Toyota Gazoo Racing lead the first Test Day session

The Test Day morning session ended at 13:00. The 62 cars of the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will take place on 21-22 August 2021, used this morning’s four-hour practice session to fine-tune the cars and get their bearings on the circuit. The fastest overall lap time went to a Toyota GR010 Hybrid, a car in the new Hypercar class.

The sun was shining on the Circuit de la Sarthe at 09:00 this morning as the 62 cars entered in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans took to the track. The United Autosports #32 Oreca 07-Gibson was the first to venture out. 

Test Day is the first time we get to see the cars of the new Hypercar class on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit. The two Toyota GR010 Hybrids, two Glickenhaus 007 LMHs and the Alpine A470-Gibson put in their laps without a hitch. #709 Glickenhaus driver Romain Dumas set out his team’s roadmap at the scrutineering checks on Friday and Saturday: "We’ll be making sure that everything to do with the car works well, like the temperature in the cockpit, because it’s going to be very hot. We’ll also be adjusting the chassis.  This Hypercar is nothing like the LMP1s I’ve driven in the past.  In an LMP1, some corners don’t feel like corners because of the aerodynamics, but in this car you have to handle them as proper turns.”The first significant Hypercar lap time was put in by the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid fielded by Toyota Gazoo Racing and driven by José Maria Lopez who clocked 3:34.326. The Argentinian driver then went on to better it at 3:32.201. The #708 Glickenhaus 007 LMH enjoyed a spell at the top of the time sheets with a lap time of 3:31.920, before Brendon Hartley bettered it at the wheel of the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid with the fastest lap of the session, 3:21.263. The New Zealander shot ahead of the #36 Alpine A470-Gibson (3:31.519), the #708 Glickenhaus 007 LMH, and the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid. A mere six tenths of a second separate the four Hypercars! It’s looks like we’re in for some fantastic action!

In the LMP2 class, United Autosport scooped the first two places. The #22 driven by Phil Hanson, Fabio Scherer and Filipe Albuquerque nudged ahead of the #23 driven by Paul di Resta and Wayne Boyd. The #41 Oreca 07-Gibson fielded by Team WRT with driver trio Kubica, Delétraz and Ye completes the top three.

In LMGTE Pro, a three-way battle is shaping up between Ferrari, Porsche and Chevrolet Corvette. The Porsche GT Team #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 has clocked the best lap time so far. French driver Kévin Estre has been on a roll at the wheel of this car since the start of the season and achieved 3:52.901 this morning. His time puts him ahead of the #92 (3:54.074) and the AF Corse #52 Ferrari F430 GTE Evo (3:55.023).

In LMGTE Am, Absolute Racing’s #18 Porsche 911 RSR-19 stood out with a lap time of 3:55.841. This is the first time the Chinese team has raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They beat the Japanese team D’Station Racing who are driving the #777 Aston Martin Vantage AMR.

Race control halted the tests at 11:01 to deal with a floppy that had made its way onto the track at the Forest Esses. Track marshals waved the red flag again 33 minutes later when the GR Racing #86 Porsche 911 RSR came off the track at the first Mulsanne Straight chicane, with Tom Gamble at the wheel. The British driver was unhurt. At the same time, the Corvette Racing #63 C8.R drew to a stop on the racetrack just before the Porsche curves. The proceedings were interrupted again at 12:21 when the TF Sport #95 Aston Martin Vantage AMR driven by John Hartshorne also went off at the first Mulsanne Straight chicane without any serious consequences.

Overall Top 5 after the first session:

  1. #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid – 3:31.263
  2. #36 Alpine A470-Gibson – 3:31.519
  3. #708 Glickenhaus 007 LMH – 3:31.920
  4. #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid – 3:31.986
  5. #23 Oreca 07-Gibson – 3:33.038

Best lap times in the other three classes:

  • LMP2: #23 Oreca 07-Gibson – United Autosports – 3:33.038
  • LMGTEPro: #91 Porsche 911 RSR – 3.52.901
  • LMGTE Am: #18 Porsche 911 RSR-19 – 3:55.841

The cars are back on the track from 14:00 to 19:00 for a further five hours. In the meantime, check out the photos from this morning’s session.