LATEST: AUDI TOPS LE MANS TESTING TIMESHEETS
R18 fastest in first official test day
Audi Sport struck the first blow at Le Mans this year by topping the first official day of running on the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The Ingolstadt firm’s new R18 set the quickest time during last weekend’s test day, with Lucas di Grassi going fastest two hours into the afternoon session. Di Grassi’s time beat the previous benchmark set by Mark Webber in the lead Porsche 919 Hybrid by almost a full second.
The twin Audis completed a total of 138 laps, equating to 1,168 miles worth of running. The sister car of Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer lost two hours of track time in the afternoon when it had to have a damper change on the front axle. That car finished fourth fastest.
Audi head Dr Wolfgang Ullrich said: “It’s important to use the test day time productively and we had detailed programmes to run through. We achieved some important targets and worked well on the set-up.
“It was the first time at Le Mans for the new car so we had to collect as much data as possible. Our six drivers gave plenty of positive feedback.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing wound up fifth and sixth fastest with its new TS050 HYBRID machines. The new car lowered its predecessor’s best times by over two seconds at the first attempt with its new turbocharged 2.4-litre engine and battery configuration. Toyota completed a combined 177 laps.
Briton Anthony Davidson said: “We can feel it is a big step forward on last year’s car. It feels like it has a better balance and the 8MJ hybrid boost is great around this track, where straightline speed is so important. But it’s also important to keep stability and momentum through the fast corners so we have worked hard on the balance. We still have work to do of course, but I am pleased with the amount we have been able to cram into this one day of testing.”
Porsche’s two 919 Hybrids completed 173 laps in their new specification following the Stuttgart firm’s decision to revert back to the same battery systems and control electronics it used to win Le Mans last season. Porsche has experienced difficulties with hybrid power over the early FIA World Endurance Championship rounds and has decided to revert back to the proven 2015 system. As well as the Le Mans test day, Porsche also completed a two-day endurance test at Motorland Aragon in Spain last week.
Porsche Team head Andreas Seidl said: “It was a successful start for us, which makes us confident for the race. Both cars ran smoothly and we completed our entire test programme in dry conditions. In the morning session the focus was on set-up work, in the afternoon we worked mainly on long runs for the tyres. It was also important to practice all the Le Mansspecific procedures with race control, such as safety car deployment and slow zones. As a team, we feel well prepared for the race week.”
Eurasia Motorsport topped the LMP2 times with Pu Jun Jin, Tristan Gommendy and Nick de Bruijn in its ORECA-NISSAN. Le Mans rookie Will Stevens was part of the G-drive crew that finished third fastest, alongside Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and Alex Brundle.
Antonio Garcia put the factory Corvette team top in the GTE Pro times, just clear of last year’s outright Le Mans winner Nick Tandy in the 911 RSR he shares with Patrick Pilet and Kevin Estre.
Corvette also topped the GTE Am standings, with Yutaka Yamagishi, Pierre Ragues, Jean-philippe Belloc and Nick Catsburg fastest ahead of the British-irish crew of Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott in the AF Corse Ferrari.
Audi, Porsche and Toyota are at the head of the field
Porsche, Audi out front Cameron/griffin/scott Jin/gommendy/bruijn