Jani’s Porsche, Mueller’s Ford headline provisional Le Mans polesitters

Photo: ACO

Two iconic manufacturers have the provisional poles in the marquee classes for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Neel Jani, last year’s overall polesitter, has the provisional top spot overall and in LMP1 this year in the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid with a best time of 3:19.733 around the 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

But the bigger story comes in GTE-Pro, where Ford has – for the moment – appeared to play the Balance of Performance game to its advantage with locking out four of the top five positions on the provisional grid. The manufacturer makes its much trumpeted return to Le Mans as a factory effort this year on the 50th anniversary of its 1966 win with the original Ford GT.

Dirk Mueller was best of the Fords in the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford GT at a 3:51.185, that coming on the car’s 22nd and final lap of the two-hour provisional qualifying session.

Other provisional polesitters included Rene Rast in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 Nissan in LMP2 (3:36.605) and Rob Bell in the No. 61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari F458 Italia in GTE-Am (3:56.827).

With rain a distinct possibility for Thursday’s pair of two hour sessions, which run from 7 to 9 and 10 to 12 p.m. local time, respectively, there is a very good chance that these times set the grid for Saturday’s 84th running of the French endurance classic.

Brief class breakdowns are below:


  • It’s a ‘”Noah’s Ark” style provisional grid with two Porsches, then two Toyota TS050 Hybrids and two Audi R18s, before the two privateer Rebellion R-One AERs. The ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER didn’t get out during the session after a fire in free practice.
  • Per Radio Le Mans, the Audis were delayed out in the session.


  • The top four cars are Oreca 05 variants – two Oreca 05s and the rebadged Alpine A460s – with the top Ligier the lone Ligier JS P2 Honda in the field, courtesy of a flier from Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 49 Michael Shank Racing car.
  • The No. 31 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Nissan – which runs in white and black Paul Mitchell colors this race owing to alcoholic restrictions – was sixth.
  • The top open-top car was the No. 42 Strakka Racing Gibson 015S Nissan in eighth in class.
  • The No. 27 SMP Racing BR01 Nissan that includes IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin is 15th in class.


  • Might as well be all about the BoP. Ford and Ferrari have locked out the top seven positions in the 14-car field with their seven entered cars, leaving the remaining seven cars from Corvette, Aston Martin and Porsche all 3.733 seconds or more in arrears.
  • IndyCar stars Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon are in the Nos. 68 and 69 cars and tentatively first and second.


  • Ferrari has four of the top six in this class with the older Ferrari F458 Italia; the top Porsche is the No. 78 KCMG entry in seventh.
  • NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is currently ninth in the No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari F458 Italia he shares with Jeff Segal and Bill Sweedler.

Provisional pole quotes

Jani to Radio Le Mans’ Bruce Jones: “It was not an easy session. None of us had a clear run. It was quite a difficult session to manage. We’ll see. Maybe it is enough. Maybe not. It’s a good start to the weekend for sure. I hit a lot of traffic especially in the Porsche corners I lost quite a bit of time. We know we have some more in our pockets. If we need to use more, we’ll see. That’s racing here, or qualifying here. You need a bit of luck sometimes.”

Rast to Radio Le Mans’ Shea Adam: “[Rain] would be ideal! We hope for some rain. But we still can improve the car. Got quite a bit traffic. We can go six or seventh tenths quicker. Very happy with pole position so far. Good lineup. For now it’s a bit perfect.”

Mueller to Jones: “I got my clear lap at the end. Be patient, be patient. Finally, last lap, it was a good lap to the checkered flag. I’ve been there on the podium with Joey (Hand) before. Lots of experience. Combined it’s just really really nice.”

Bell to Adam: “Not too fussed to be honest. We have good pace, good car. Wherever we are in quali, we are. If it rains tomorrow, great. If you’re pole here only means you cross line first with 24 hours left. I’m playing a down a bit. But it’d be a feather in cap to get pole. We haven’t got a huge quali setup on the car.”


IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”