This is the first of a number of updates Driven will be running over the 24 Hours of Le Mans race weekend. Check back regularly to see how the Kiwis are doing at Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency.
The weather has turned a bit to custard here at Le Mans on Friday afternoon (French time). The good news though, is that qualifying for the 53rd running of the world’s most famous and prestigious 24-hour endurance race the day before was fine.
More good news came in the fact the four New Zealanders racing this weekend were all inside the top four. Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber in their Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 cars were second and third on the grid, rookie Mitch Evans in his Jota Sport LMP2 car finished fourth fastest and Richie Stanaway set the fastest time in the LMGTE Pro class in his Aston Martin.
The pole sitting third Porsche of Neel Jani was four seconds faster than last year and under the lap record by two seconds.
Driven managed to grab a quick word with Hartley and Bamber before they headed off to the driver’s parade. “Two Kiwis on the front two rows so you can’t really complain,” said Bamber.
“You should have seen the garage after qualifying — there was a massive crush outside. We’re pleased wit where we are and I’m looking forward to the race start.”
Hartley is a lot more comfortable in the car this year having had a year of racing in the car.
“We’ve had good pace in all conditions and while there is some pressure to qualify well, it’s the race that really matters,” said Hartley.
“The team had a real spring in its step after qualifying and if we stay out of pit lane, make no mistakes and reliability isn’t a factor we should do all right.”