Le Mans 2018: Toyota on pole, Michelin runners on top in every class!
Thursday’s qualifying sessions produced little drama, although the overnight pole-sitter Kazuki Nakajima (Toyota 8, Alonso/Nakajima/Buemi) succeeded in lower...
We’re a quarter of the way into the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours and, for the moment, nothing has spooked Toyota’s game plan. The Japanese make’s two cars are in first and second places after six hours, with the N°8 prototype of Alonso/Nakajima/Buemi setting the pace, shadowed closely by the N°7 sister car. Porsche/Michelin tops the LM GTE Pro and Am orders, while the G-Drive Racing Oreca07 is in command in LMP2. Both Toyotas have been quadruple stinting on their Michelin slicks.
It’s a case of ‘so far, so good’ for Toyota Gazoo Racing which has been lapping comfortably ahead of the field since the start. The two Michelin-equipped TS050-Hybrids have swapped the lead several times and the first place is currently the property of the N°8 prototype. This is the car of ex-F1 world champion Fernando Alonso who covered four stints in the car earlier this evening to make his official Le Mans race debut.
There were questions before the start about how big a threat the non-hybrid LMP1 hybrids would be this weekend but they haven’t really been a match for Toyotas. The best of the them are the N°17 SMP Racing and N°3 Rebellion Racing cars which are already one and two laps behind as things stand.
Despite being penalised by the so-called BoP changes (Balance of Performance) which were announced on Friday, Porsche has been as dominant in the race as it was in qualifying.
The LM GTE Pro class is effectively topped by the N°92 919 RSR/Michelin of Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor who were gifted an enviable safety margin when their opponents were caught in different ‘trains’ during the first Safety Car period. Until that point, they had been locked in a thrilling scrap with the similar N°91 car. Second place is provisionally held by the N°81 BMW/Michelin, with the N°93 Porsche in third spot.
In LM GTE Am, the leader at the moment is the N°77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche which has been performing strongly since the start. Second is the N°56 Porsche.
In front in LMP2 is the N°26 G-Drive Oreca07 which is up to sixth overall. Its closest chaser had been the N°36 Alpine until the French car span a few moments ago. That allowed the Michelin-equipped Panis Barthez Compétition Ligier (N°23) and Idec Sport Oreca07 prototypes to move up to second and third places.