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Estre's Hail Mary Helps Porsche Steal Pole From Cadillac for 24 Hours of Le Mans

24 hours of le mans 2024 practice and qualifying
Estre Helps Porsche Steal Le Mans 24 PoleKer Robertson - Getty Images


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  • A last-lap miracle vaulted Kevin Estre and his Porsche 963 up from fifth place to the pole.

  • It also interrupted a front row sweep by Cadillac Racing’s Alex Lynn and Sebastien Bourdais.

  • Alex Lynn saved his best for last in his Cadillac V-Series.R and apparently had taken the pole from teammate Bourdais.


In a stunning final lap, Kevin Estre won the pole for Porsche Penske Motorsports at the Le Mans 24-hour during Hypercar qualifying on Thursday in France.

Looking for a Hail Mary, the last-lap miracle vaulted Estre and his Porsche 963 up from fifth place and interrupted a front row sweep by Cadillac Racing’s Alex Lynn and Sebastien Bourdais.

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“What a day for Porsche Penske Motorsport,” said Roger Penske, founder of the Penske Corporation. “Last year we came to Le Mans and weren’t quite up to speed. This year the world looks a lot brighter—that’s thanks to everyone in the team, the Porsche Motorsport staff and our strong partners. Kévin’s incredible lap gives us all another huge boost as we head into the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

24 hours of le mans 2024 practice and qualifying
Porsche Penske’s Kevin Estre celebrates his Le Mans pole on Thursday.Ker Robertson - Getty Images

Lynn saved his best for last in his Cadillac V-Series.R and apparently had taken the pole from teammate Bourdais. That was just seconds before Estre’s knife-edge drive in the third sector gained a half second. The Frenchman’s lap of 3:24.634 around the 8.48-mile Circuit de la Sarthe pipped Lynn by 0.148 seconds.

“Kevin is the best at giving 110 percent and managing to survive,” said Lauren Vanthoors, his teammate in the No. 6 Porsche 963 that will be shared with Andre Lotterer. Estre’s times in each of the three sectors were not the quickest compared to the competition, but the combination brought him the pole.

24 hours of lemans lineup

After for pitting late for fresh Michelin tires, Bourdais might have improved his time if it wasn't for a red flag. The No. 3 Cadillac, to be co-driven by Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon, was atop the timing chart for much of the session. But the Le Mans native’s bid on fresh tires was interrupted by a red flag. Due to concerns about running out of fuel, which brings a penalty, he did not resume during the final seven minutes, 41 seconds under green.

”A really good day for Chip Ganassi Racing and for Cadillac," Bourdais said. "It’s not pole, but second and third—especially us with only one attempt—is a really solid run. We had a big advantage on the first one and we came up just a tiny bit short.

"But yeah, proud of the whole group and Cadillac. We’ll go racing from there. Obviously all of this is for show, nothing that’s going to make a difference come Sunday so all the hard work is ahead.”

Including Dixon and Alex Palou, who will co-drive the No. 2 Cadillac with Earl Bamber and Lynn, the session put two NTT IndyCar champions at the front of the field.

The 499Ps of Ferrari, which swept the front row last year, finished fourth and fifth in the hands of Alessandro Pier Guidi and Antonio Fuoco during the 30-minute session. Both drivers pushed after the red flag was lifted, but each had miscues that prevented the lap needed to advance.

Pushing to improve from sixth place, Dries Vanthoor, the provisional pole winner from Wednesday, ran off at Indianapolis in his BMW M Hybrid V8 to bring out the red flag.

In Other Classes

On a day when teams with American and IMSA connections fared well in all three classes, AO by TF scored the LMP2 pole with Louis Deletraz at the wheel of an Oreca Gibson 07. The AO side is the IMSA-based GTD Pro squad that has joined with TF Motorsports for the French classic. The lap by Deletraz edged Job van Vitert of IDEC Sport by 0.610 seconds.

Brendan Iribe took the 720S LMGT3 Evo of McLaren, where American Zak Brown is the CEO, to the pole in the LMGT3 class. With a lap of 3:58.120, Iribe beat the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Manthey Racing driven by Aliaksandr Malykhin by 0.808 seconds.