Le Mans update: Warming up to racing
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Race day dawned fine for the final hit out before the 24 Hours of Le Mans race start mid afternoon.
All the teams get an hour early Saturday morning to have a last yahoo around the fast and challenging 13.6 kilometre Circuit de la Sarthe.
This is the last chance for the drivers get a feel of the car, and the teams to have a last look at the data before action begins in earnest. In qualifying it was a front row lockout for the Porsche Team, but Audi made a last minute point by getting all three of their LMP1 cars to set the
fastest lap time.
In the first qualifying session on Thursday Corvette Racing came unstuck when a mechanical breakage caused Jan Magnussen to heavily crash the car causing its withdrawal. Things didn’t get much better for the American manufacturer when another of the Chevrolet Corvettes spun at the Porsche Curves and smacked into the concrete wall sustaining some pretty sever damage. Ironically, it was the same place that eliminated the other Corvette.
Good news for the four Kiwis in the field though. They all came through unscathed with Mitch Evans (starting the race in fourth) setting the fastest time in the Jota Sport LMP2 entry.
“The car felt really good and we’re pretty happy with where we are,” said Evans afterwards.
“The cars been good all weekend and I’m looking forward to getting into the race. Oliver [Turvey] will start first and then I’ll take over [followed by Simon Dolan] and we’ll see how it goes from there.
“So far everything has gone well, but we won’t know really until well into the race. I know the track quite well now, and know where the corners are and which way they go. It’s quite odd though, if you just do 10 laps it takes over half an hour to do them [LMP2 car lap around the high 3mins 30secs].”
Richie Stanaway in the Aston Martin was eighth fastest, which may have caused a few fans of the Kiwi to wonder, but he and his co-drivers are starting from pole in their LMGTE Pro category.
The two other New Zealanders in the field are both in LMP1 in the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Brendon Hartley will start the race second with Earl Bamber tucked in behind in third. During warm up the pair played their cards close to their respective chests finishing the session fifth and seventh respectively.