Porsche fastest in first official test for 24 Hours of Le Mans

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Porsche sent out an early warning shot to rivals Audi and Toyota in the first official test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe by topping both free practice sessions.

The prestigious race is set to take place on June 13-14, but the drivers and teams got their first chance to get in some laps on Sunday with two four-hour sessions that saw the Porsche 919 Hybrids set the pace.

In the first practice session, the no. 18 Porsche of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani finished four-tenths of a second clear of Audi’s third car, the no. 9, at the top of the timesheets.

The two German marques locked out the top six positions in first practice, with Toyota’s cars finishing down in seventh and eighth.

The order at the top was much the same for second practice, only with Porsche’s no. 17 car of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley setting the pace ahead of its third car, the no. 19 of Nico Hulkenberg, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy. Once again, Toyota could not break into the top six, settling for P7 and P8.

Nissan’s first public run with the NISMO LMP1 GT-R was a productive one as all three cars completed plenty of running in the damp conditions, even if they failed to rival the leading teams.

In LMP2, the no. 34 Oak Racing Ligier posted the fastest time of the day, finishing narrowly ahead of the no. 36 Signatech Alpine Nissan. Murphy Prototype’s no. 48 set the pace in the second practice session but was unable to beat the times set by the leading cars in the first session.

GTE-Pro saw the no. 97 Aston Martin Racing car post the fastest time of the day, finishing narrowly ahead of Corvette’s no. 64 car. AMR managed to keep up this form in GTE-Am as the no. 98 car of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana topped the timesheets ahead of the no. 61 AF Corse in the overall timesheets for the day.

The next activity at Le Mans isn’t for another week, with the public scrutineering set to take place in the city centre. Porsche’s Nico Hulkenberg is poised for a particularly busy period, though, as he now jets off to Canada for next weekend’s F1 race.