Toyota back on top in 24 Hours of Le Mans night practice

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 8 GR010 HYBRID emerged as the quickest Hypercar during the second practice session of Le Mans race week tonight. Sebastien Buemi topped the 120-minute run into darkness, with a 3:27.474 tour of the French circuit.

The Swiss driver’s hot lap bookended a rollercoaster day for the Toyota team, which topped Free Practice 1, then failed to get either GR010 HYBRID into the Hyperpole shootout during Qualifying prior to FP2.

Robert Kubica came closest to matching Buemi during his first taste of night running on the Circuit de La Sarthe as a Hypercar driver. The Polish racer’s best time was a 3m27.998s in the No. 83 privately funded AF Corse 499P and like Buemi’s flyer, came early in the session with the sun setting.


Third on the timing screens at midnight was the No. 6 Porsche Penske 963, with a 3m28.065s. The No. 12 HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche and No. 36 Alpine A424 also came within a second and slotted in fourth and fifth, the latter with a late improvement from Nicolas Lapierre.

There were two significant incidents of note late in the session.

The first saw Dries Vanthoor, who starred in qualifying for BMW Team WRT, hit the tires head-on at Indianapolis in the No. 15 M Hybrid V8 after taking too much curb on entry and squirreling off the circuit.

Onboard footage revealed that the impact was hard, but Vanthoor was able to stick the car in reverse, return to the circuit and limp back to the pits for repairs without any outside assistance.

The second incident came with less than a minute to go and brought the session to a premature end. This time it was Callum Illot in the wars, the British driver suffering a huge off at Tertre Rouge in the No. 12 HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche and destroying the front end of the car.

He was able to climb out of the car under his own steam. It is not clear what happened at the time of writing as the TV cameras only picked up the aftermath.

News also filtered through during the session that Ferrari’s No. 51 factory 499P and the No. 83 AF Corse 499P received post-qualifying penalties for “failing to respect the pit lane procedure” during the session.

According to the steward’s bulletin, both cars were “not correctly stopped in their dedicated stopping area.”

They will need to serve a 10-second time penalty during their first pit stops during the race as a result.

In LMP2 COOL Racing’s No. 37 ORECA continued to show speed, Malthe Jakobsen setting a 3m35.386s to go top by more than a second.

United Autosports’ No. 22 ORECA ended up second in the times, with the No. 63 Panis Racing ORECA, the fastest of the Pro/Am runners, third.

Further down the order in the class AO by TF’s ‘Spike’ 07 Gibson hit trouble. It ended the night 14th fastest and stopped by the side of the road after PJ Hyett lost a wheel on the run down to Indianapolis.

LMGT3 saw the top four places in the class occupied by four different manufacturers. The promising start to the week continued for Proton Competition and Ford up top, the No. 88 Mustang setting the quickest lap thanks to Dennis Olsen. The Norweigan’s 3:58.689 was enough to give him the edge over Marco Sorensen in the No. 777 D’Station Aston Martin Vantage.

The No. 31 WRT BMW was classified third, with the No. 82 TF Sport Corvette fourth.

At the very bottom of the screens sat GR Racing’s Ferrari, which missed qualifying with an engine issue. The good news is that the British team’s 296 emerged from its pit box during the session. The bad news is that it failed to set a competitive time.


Story originally appeared on Racer