Hartley puts Toyota on top in opening Le Mans practice

Le Mans week got well and truly underway on Wednesday afternoon with Free Practice 1. Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 8 GR010 HYBRID emerged as the fastest runner in Hypercar, after Brendon Hartley set a 3m26.013s with 50 minutes remaining in the three-hour session.

Hartley’s flyer was almost a second quicker than any time set during the Test Day last Sunday, and 0.6s up on Callum Ilott in the No. 12 HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche, which sat atop the times for most of the session and finished up second.

Dries Vanthoor set a 3m26.671s in the No. 15 WRT BMW to make it three brands in the top three.

The top five was completed by the No. 99 Proton Porsche and No. 7 Toyota, with the best of the Cadillacs (No. 2) sixth and the fastest Ferrari (No. 50) eighth, both cars lapping within a second of the No. 8.


There were no major dramas for cars in the top class, with every car completing 20 or more laps. The car which completed the fewest tours was the No. 63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini SC63, which spent an extended period of time in the garage with an undisclosed mechanical issue.

Neither SC63 set times challenging the top half of the field; the No. 19 ending up 21st, with the No. 63 22nd ahead of only the Isotta Frachini Tipo 6, 3 and 4.7 seconds off the No. 8’s time respectively.

Elsewhere, the No. 2 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R of Alex Lynn caused a red flag when he lost the rear at the exit of Tertre Rouge. He kissed the barrier nose-first but the damage appeared minimal.

In LMP2, all the fast times were set in the first 15 minutes of the session, with the No. 14 AO by TF ORECA leading the way with a 3m24.245s from Louis Deletraz.

Interestingly, the top three in the class were all LMP2 Pro/Am entries, with the No. 30 Duqueine Team ORECA second and the No. 23 United Autosports ORECA third.

Fastest of the LMP2 Pro cars was the No. 9 Proton Competition example, with a best time of 3m35.054s.

There were a few incidents of note in the class during the session.

The No. 183 AF Corse 07 with 2023 Le Mans class winner Nico Varrone at the wheel suffered a suspension failure. This forced him to stop the car at the Forest Esses.

The No. 65 Panis ORECA meanwhile, had an spin on cold tires at the Dunlop Chicane and ended up stuck in the gravel, while Ben Keating in the No. 23 United entry ended up having a moment at the Porsche Curves. The Texan avoided contact with any walls but was forced to take a trip through the gravel.

LMGT3 saw AKKODIS ASP’s No. 87 Lexus RC F LMGT3 spoil the McLaren party, when Esteban Masson set a 3m57.808s at the end of the session. His lap was the first for an LMGT3 driver under 3m58s and pushed the No. 70 Inception Racing and No. 59 United Autosports McLaren GT3 Evos to second and third.

The No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin slotted in fourth with the GR Racing Ferrari fifth.

Notably, the No. 87 Lexus which topped the times was required to start FP1 with Jack Hawksworth at the wheel after the IMSA GTD regular failed to set his 10 mandatory laps as a rookie during the Test Day. Hawksworth has now qualified for the race after an 11-lap stint in the session.

As for incidents, the sister No. 78 Lexus caused the first of the two red flags when it stopped and required assistance at Mulsanne Corner. 

Mike Wainwright in the No. 86 GR Racing Ferrari also stopped on track, the Briton coming to a halt at the first Mulsanne Chicane.

But perhaps the most dramatic moment concerned the No. 88 Proton Ford Mustang, which suffered a fuel issue which led to a fuel injector fire, forcing the car into the garage for an extended stint. 


Story originally appeared on Racer