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Qualifying report
Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Le Mans 24 Hours: BMW stuns to top first qualifying as Kobayashi brings out red flags

BMW topped the opening qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours, which was cut short by an off for Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi.

#15 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8: Dries Vanthoor, Raffaele Marciello, Marco Wittmann
A 60-minute session took place on Wednesday evening to determine the eight cars from each of the three categories that will progress to Thursday’s final shootout and fight for pole position for the blue riband round of the World Endurance Championship. 
While Porsche, Ferrari and Toyota were seen as the favourites for provisional pole, BMW sprung a surprise by topping the first qualifying session, with Dries Vanthoor posting a best time of 3m24.465s in the #15 M Hybrid V8 with less than 10 minutes left on the clock.
That lap was enough to overthrow Sebastien Bourdais in the #3 Cadillac from the top of the order by 0.177s and demote the #50 Ferrari of Antonio Fuoco to third.
Vanthoor’s time was almost two seconds quicker than the best lap seen so far at La Sarthe in 2024, a 3m26.013s flyer with which Brendon Hartley had led the opening practice earlier on Wednesday.
Any chance of Vanthoor’s being toppled was ended by a rare mistake from Kobayashi in the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID with minutes to go in the session, the Japanese driver running wide at the karting corner, after hitting the inside kerb way too hard, and getting beached in the gravel.
With under three minutes left on the board, the race control decided to red flag qualifying and declare the results, cementing BMW's position at the head of the order.

Kobayashi's fastest effort had been provisionally good enough to get the #7 Toyota into Hyperpole thanks to a 3m24.754s marker. However, race control deleted all of his lap times due to him causing the red flag. As a consequence he and team-mates Jose Maria Lopez and Nyck de Vries will start the race from the back of the Hypercar pack.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck De Vries

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck De Vries

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

Alpine inherited fourth thanks to an impressive effort of 3m24.872s by Paul-Loup Chatin in the #35 A424, while Alex Lynn ensured both Ganassi-entered Cadillacs progressed into the final part of qualifying by claiming fifth.
Next up was Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 Ferrari, while two Porsches narrowly made it into Hyperpole amid the red flag – the #8 factory Penske car of Kevin Estre, who survived a big off in the final 10 minutes of qualifying, and the #12 Jota of Callum Ilott, taking seventh and eighth respectively.
The second Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre narrowly missed out a spot in Q2, taking ninth on the grid.
The best of the Lamborghini SC63s was Mirko Bortolotti in 13th, two spots ahead of the fastest of the Peugeot 9X8s, the #93 car of Jean-Eric Vergne.
The most high-profile absence from Hyperpole was Hartley in the #8 Toyota, the Kiwi ending up only qualifying 11th despite lapping within a second of Vanthoor.
In LMP2, Peugeot Hypercar reserve Malthe Jakobsen put the #37 Cool Racing ORECA-Gibson 07 at the top of the order with a best effort of 3m46.530s.
That was enough to usurp the early benchmark set by 2023 LMP2 champion Louis Deletraz in the #14 AO by TF Pro-Am entry by just over three-tenths of a second, while Ben Hanley took third in the #23 United Autosports ORECA that is also entered in the sub-class.
#14 AO by TF Oreca 07: Gibson: Pj Hyett, Louis Deletraz, Alex Quinn

#14 AO by TF Oreca 07: Gibson: Pj Hyett, Louis Deletraz, Alex Quinn

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

Mathias Beche set a time that was exactly a second off the pace of Jakobsen as he grabbed fourth for the Panis Racing operation and its #65 ORECA, which is also entered in Pro-Am.
Proton, which has faced a tough start to the 2024 season following its switch from Porsche to Ford over the winter, led the times in the first-ever LMGT3 qualifying at Le Mans.
Ben Barker lapped the circuit in 3m55.243s in the #77 Ford Mustang GT3 to take provisional pole in the GT division, leading the #70 Inception McLaren of Frederik Schandorff by 0.143s. 
A late effort from Daniel Juncadella put the #82 TF Sport Corvette Z06 GT3 third in the classification, the factory racer ending up 0.842s slower than pacesetter Barker.
Frank Perera was fourth in the #60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan GT3, while Klaus Bachler claimed fifth in the points-leading #92 Manthey PureRxcing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Le Mans 24 Hours - First qualifying results:

Cla      Driver   Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
15  Dries Vanthoor
R.Marciello
Marco Wittmann
BMW 3'24.465   8
3  S.Bourdais
R.van der Zande
Scott Dixon
Cadillac 3'24.642 0.177 8
50  Antonio Fuoco
Miguel Molina
Nicklas Nielsen
Ferrari 3'24.731 0.266 8
35  Paul-Loup Chatin
F.Habsburg
Charles Milesi
Alpine 3'24.872 0.407 15
2  Earl Bamber
Alex Lynn
Alex Palou
Cadillac 3'24.993 0.528 13
51  A.P.Guidi
James Calado
A.Giovinazzi
Ferrari 3'25.049 0.584 11
6  Kévin Estre
André Lotterer
Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 3'25.051 0.586 11
12  Will Stevens
Norman Nato
Callum Ilott
Porsche 3'25.145 0.680 15
36  Nicolas Lapierre
Mick Schumacher
M.Vaxivière
Alpine 3'25.278 0.813 12
10  5  Matt Campbell
M.Christensen
F.Makowiecki
Porsche 3'25.307 0.842 13
11  8  Sébastien Buemi
Brendon Hartley
Ryo Hirakawa
Toyota 3'25.446 0.981 12
12  83  Robert Kubica
R.Shwartzman
Yifei Ye
Ferrari 3'25.766 1.301 13
13  63  Mirko Bortolotti
Daniil Kvyat
Edoardo Mortara
Lamborghini 3'25.973 1.508 12
14  99  Neel Jani
Harry Tincknell
Julien Andlauer
Porsche 3'25.992 1.527 14
15  93  Jean-Éric Vergne
Mikkel Jensen
Nico Müller
Peugeot 3'26.195 1.730 11
16  20  S.van der Linde
Robin Frijns
René Rast
BMW 3'26.223 1.758 8
17  38  Oliver Rasmussen
Phil Hanson
Jenson Button
Porsche 3'26.290 1.825 15
18  311  Pipo Derani
Jack Aitken
Felipe Drugovich
Cadillac 3'26.311 1.846 12
19  4  Mathieu Jaminet
Felipe Nasr
Nick Tandy
Porsche 3'26.362 1.897 11
20  94  S.Vandoorne
Paul Di Resta
Loïc Duval
Peugeot 3'27.251 2.786 11
21  19  Romain Grosjean
A.Caldarelli
Matteo Cairoli
Lamborghini 3'27.655 3.190 14
22  11  Carl Bennett
Jean-Karl Vernay
A.Serravalle
Isotta Fraschini 3'29.865 5.400 13
23  37  Lorenzo Fluxá
Malthe Jakobsen
Ritomo Miyata
ORECA/Gibson 3'32.827 8.362 12
24  14  PJ Hyett
Louis Delétraz
Alex Quinn
ORECA/Gibson 3'33.134 8.669 12
25  23  Ben Keating
F.Albuquerque
Ben Hanley
ORECA/Gibson 3'33.430 8.965 10
26  65  Rodrigo Sales
Mathias Beche
Scott Huffaker
ORECA/Gibson 3'33.827 9.362 13
27  28  Paul Lafargue
Job van Uitert
Reshad De Gerus
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.215 9.750 14
28  10  Ryan Cullen
Patrick Pilet
S.Richelmi
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.262 9.797 13
29  33  A.Mattschull
Rene Binder
Laurents Hörr
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.330 9.865 13
30  22  Oliver Jarvis
Bijoy Garg
Nolan Siegel
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.480 10.015 14
31  183  François Perrodo
Ben Barnicoat
Nico Varrone
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.767 10.302 12
32  24  Fabio Scherer
David H.Hansson
Kyffin Simpson
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.794 10.329 13
33  34  J.Śmiechowski
Vlad Lomko
Clément Novalak
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.885 10.420 13
34  9  Jonas Ried
Maceo Capietto
Bent Viscaal
ORECA/Gibson 3'34.963 10.498 10
35  30  John Falb
James Allen
J-B.Simmenauer
ORECA/Gibson 3'35.070 10.605 13
36  47  Naveen Rao
Matthew Bell
Frederik Vesti
ORECA/Gibson 3'35.360 10.895 15
37  25  Matthias Kaiser
Olli Caldwell
Roman De Angelis
ORECA/Gibson 3'35.474 11.009 12
38  45  George Kurtz
Colin Braun
Nicky Catsburg
ORECA/Gibson 3'39.222 14.757 12
39  77  Ryan Hardwick
Z.Robichon
Ben Barker
Ford 3'55.263 30.798 4
40  70  Brendan Iribe
Ollie Millroy
F.Schandorff
McLaren 3'55.406 30.941 8
41  82  Hiroshi Koizumi
Sébastien Baud
D.Juncadella
Chevrolet 3'56.105 31.640 13
42  60  C.Schiavoni
Matteo Cressoni
Franck Perera
Lamborghini 3'56.153 31.688 14
43  92  Alex Malykhin
Joel Sturm
Klaus Bachler
Porsche 3'56.189 31.724 12
44  27  Ian James
D.Mancinelli
Alex Riberas
Aston Martin 3'56.243 31.778 13
45  66  G.Petrobelli
Larry ten Voorde
Salih Yoluc
Ferrari 3'56.443 31.978 7
46  777  Satoshi Hoshino
Erwan Bastard
Marco Sørensen
Aston Martin 3'56.500 32.035 12
47  85  Sarah Bovy
Michelle Gatting
Rahel Frey
Lamborghini 3'56.530 32.065 11
48  87  Takeshi Kimura
Esteban Masson
Jack Hawksworth
Lexus 3'56.561 32.096 13
49  59  James Cottingham
Nicolas Costa
Grégoire Saucy
McLaren 3'56.710 32.245 13
50  46  Ahmad Al Harthy
Valentino Rossi
Maxime Martin
BMW 3'56.738 32.273 13
51  54  Thomas Flohr
F.Castellacci
Davide Rigon
Ferrari 3'56.780 32.315 13
52  44  John Hartshorne
Ben Tuck
Christopher Mies
Ford 3'56.836 32.371 11
53  31  Darren Leung
Sean Gelael
Augusto Farfus
BMW 3'56.947 32.482 13
54  91  Yasser Shahin
Morris Schuring
Richard Lietz
Porsche 3'57.026 32.561 11
55  88  Giorgio Roda
M.O.Pedersen
Dennis Olsen
Ford 3'57.221 32.756 13
56  81  Tom Van Rompuy
Rui Andrade
Charlie Eastwood
Chevrolet 3'57.296 32.831 12
57  95  H.Hamaguchi
Nico Pino
Marino Sato
McLaren 3'57.313 32.848 13
58  155  Johnny Laursen
Conrad Laursen
Jordan Taylor
Ferrari 3'57.349 32.884 13
59  78  Arnold Robin
T.Boguslavskiy
K.van der Linde
Lexus 3'57.441 32.976 12
60  55  François Heriau
Simon Mann
Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 3'58.282 33.817 12
61  7  José María López
Kamui Kobayashi
Nyck de Vries
Toyota -   12
62  86  Mike Wainwright
Daniel Serra
Riccardo Pera
Ferrari -   0
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