Porsche leads first Le Mans qualifying; Duval ruled out (UPDATED)

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Porsche has the provisional pole for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. But it came on a day with way less track time than the six hours that were planned due to a litany of accidents.

Ex-Mercedes test driver Brendon Hartley, now a Porsche factory ace, clocked in at 3:23.157 in the No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid. He’ll co-drive with Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard this week, as he does for the rest of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Other provisional class polesitters are G-Drive Racing, AF Corse and SMP Racing in LMP2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am.

Here’s results thus far. Two more qualifying sessions occur on Thursday, form 7 to 9 and 10 to midnight local time.

The No. 1 Audi wrecked earlier Wednesday and requires a change in chassis. The team confirmed just “two grazes” was all that affected Loic Duval, who had the accident at the Porsche Curves.

That said, despite the minimal nature of his injuries, Duval was ruled out by doctors late Wednesday night, confirmed by the team. Marc Gene will fill in for him at Audi; Oliver Turvey now fills in for Gene at Jota Sport in LMP2.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.