Fernando Alonso (Toyota): „Traffic is easier at night!”
After his first night-time driving experience during testing sessions at the Portimão circuit in Portugal, this evening Fernando Alonso found out exactly what the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit is like after the sun goes down.
„It was important to do some night-time laps this evening (his car was credited with the fastest time at the session, Ed.). We’ll have another opportunity tomorrow which is good because you have to find points of reference for braking. It’s a fantastic circuit during the day and different but just as great at night. Today was really a session for the drivers, and I hope we’ll be able to stay on the track awhile tomorrow to perfect our preparations. I first hit this track for Test Day, but now it’s the real deal. We’re taking very good care of the car to preserve as much as possible for the race. We learned a lot today, especially tonight! We’re getting ready as best we can. We’ve done good work up until now but it’s only the first day.”- said Alonso
The Spanish two-time F1 world champion also became aware of one very important factor of the 24 Hours: the difference in temperature between day and night.
„We worked a lot with the tires because the temperature plummets at night which can really affect the behavior of the car. On the other hand, traffic is easier at night because with the lights on the car, slower competitors can see you better!”
Toyota takes provisional pole position at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans
After the first of three qualifying sessions, Toyota is leading the charge. The two TS050 Hybrids fielded by the Japanese manufacturer have the front row locked.Qualifying at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is always unique and the first session on Wednesday was no exception. Competitors must prepare an endurance race while doing everything they in their power to improve their times.
Fernando Alonso took the wheel for his first night-time session at the 24 Hours circuit at 22:56. The Spanish driver got a taste of the magic of Le Mans, including the Mulsanne Straight and the Porsche Curves in limited lighting.
SMP Racing is the first „non-hybrid” team, with the #17 BR Engineering BR1 driven by Stéphane Sarrazin. Rebellion Racing follows with its two Rebellion R13s.
In LMP2, a Franco-French duel drew the attention of spectators watching the qualifying session. The TDS Racing team initially took the lead with IDEC Sport close behind, but then they switched positions. G-Drive Racing, DragonSpeed and Signatech Alpine round out the top 5. The lap times clocked in the class are similar to previous editions, however the 2017 pole time (3:25:352) has been beaten.
In LMGTE Pro like in LMGTE Am, Porsche dominated this first qualifying session, but not without some real concerns. Gianmaria Bruni (#91 Porsche 911 RSR) is fastest in LMGTE Pro, but just as the session began, he missed his braking at the Dunlop Chicane and went into the gravel trap, quickly removed by the track marshals and placed in a safety zone for the remainder of the session.
In LMGTE Am, Dempsey-Proton Racing takes the top two spots in the class (#88 911 RSR ahead of the #77 sister car).
The Porsche 911 RSRs did well but they also had their difficulties, particulary in braking zones, including several incidents (Matt Campbell and Romain Dumas).
Competitors in the LMGTE Pro class are quicker than ever. The top 13 are (already) faster than pole position in the class last year (clocked by Darren Turner with an Aston Martin Vantage GTE in 3:50:837).