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The 60 cars taking part in the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans took part in the first of three qualifying sessions, each one 2-hours in duration.  Toyota finished with a 1-2 with the no7 TS050 holding the top spot after Kamui Kobayashi set a 3m18.793, 0.6 seconds ahead of the no8 Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima.  The no2 Porsche was third quickest with Timo Bernhard setting a 3m19.710.

Aston Martin hold the upper hand in LMGTE Pro with the no95 Vantage of Nicki Thiim setting a 3m52.117, 0.12s ahead of the no71 Ferrari of Sam Bird and one second ahead of the third placed no51 Ferrari of James Calado.  The no97 Aston Martin was 4th ahead of the leading Ford, the no67 car of Andy Priaulx, with Porsche in 6th with Michael Christensen setting a 3m54.243 lap in the no92 911.

The LMP2 class is currently led by the no28 TDS Racing Oreca with Matthieu Vaxiviere setting a 3m29.333, 0.5 seconds ahead of the no31 Vailliante Rebellion Oreca of Bruno Senna, with the no25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca in third, 1.2 seconds behind the class leader.

The no98 Aston Martin Vantage made it a double top for the British manufacturer in both GTE classes, with Pedro Lamy setting a 3m55.134, 0.5 seconds ahead of the no77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Matteo Cairoli and another three tenths ahead of the no90 TF Sport Aston Martin of Euan Hankey.

The final two qualifying periods will take place on Thursday evening with Q2 starting at 19h00 and Q3 at 22h00, after which the grid for the 85thedition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be known.

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The no8 Toyota TS050 hybrid of Kazuki Nakajima led the way in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying with the Japanese driver setting the fastest lap of the weekend so far.  Nakajima lapped the 7km Spa-Francorchamps circuit in 1m55.233, just five thousandths of a second ahead the no7 TS050, with the no9 car of Nicolas Lapierre third quickest.

Alex Lynn went to the top of the time sheets in LMP2 for the second time in the three practice sessions, the British driversetting a 2m01.708 lap in the no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Gibson.  Lynn’s time was 0.2 second ahead of Matthias Beche in the no13 Vailante Rebellion, with the no38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca in third.

Ferrari set the pace in LMGTE Pro with Alessandro Pier Guidi in the no51 F488 finishing ahead of Davide Rigon in the no71 Ferrari.  Pier Guidi’s time of 2m14.904s was 0.2 seconds faster than Rigon’s lap of 2m15.100.

Porsche continue to set the pace in the LMGTE Am category with Matteo Cairoli in the no77 Dempsey-Proton Racing 911 finishing the 60-minute session 0.8 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Pedro Lamy in the no98 Aston Martin Vantage.

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In a qualifying session that was interrupted early on by a red flag Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani set a combined average lap of 1m54.097s to secure pole position for the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, with reigning world champion Jani setting the fastest lap of 1m53.756.

The three Toyotas will line up behind the no1 Porsche 919 with the no7 TS050 of Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi leading their teammates. 

The session was interrupted when Vitaly Petrov crashed into the tyre wall on the exit of Turn 9 in the no25 CEFC Manor TRS Oreca-Gibson and took now further part in the session.  With 21 minutes still on the clock qualifying resumed uninterrupted until the chequered flag.

The LMP2 pole was claimed by the no26 G Drive Racing Oreca with Alex Lynn and Pierre Thiriet setting a combined time of 2m02.601, just 0.023 seconds ahead of the no36 Signatech Alpine A470-Gibson of Matt Rao and Gustavo Menezes, with the no35 Alpine-Gibson in third place just 0.005s behind their teammates. With the fourth placed no24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca setting a 2m02.632 lap, the top four LMP2 cars were split by an incredible 0.031 seconds.

Ferrari and Aston Martin Take GTE Class Poles at Spa

Sam Bird and Davide Rigon claimed their first pole of 2017 with an average time of 2m15.026s on the 7km Spa-Francorchamps track.  Rigon, who set the fastest overall time in LMGTE with a 2m14.938, will start the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the two Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GTs, with the no66 Ford of Olivier Pla and Stefan Mucke finishing with a combined time of 2m15.418, four tenths behind the leading Ferrari and 0.147 ahead of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the no67 car. 

The second AF Corse Ferrari was fourth ahead of the two Porsche 911s and the two Aston Martin Vantages.

In LMGTE Am Pedro Lamy made a flying last lap to moved the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage from third to pole position as the chequered flag was waved.  The Portuguese driver had lost his best early lap due to abuse of track limits and Paul Dalla Lana handed the car back to Lamy with fresh tyres to put the car on pole.

The 2m18.659 lap was four tenths ahead of the no77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Matteo Cairoli and Christian Ried with the no54 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 of Miguel Molina and Thomas Flohr in third.

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In a 90-minute Free Practice Two, the no7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid was once again the fastest car on the 7km Spa-Francorchamps circuit.  Kamui Kobayashi set a blistering pace to record a 1m56.369 lap, 1.6 seconds quicker than his teammate Mike Conway in the earlier session.

The second free practice session was interrupted by two red flags, the first caused by Kevin Estre going off in the no91 Porsche at Les Coombes, causing a bit of damage to the car, and the second by  David Heinnemeir-Hansson’s spinning Vaillante Rebellion.

Porsche were once again second quickest but Timo Bernhard’s best lap time was nearly half a second adrift of the Japanese driver in the no2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, with the no1 Porsche third quickest just one tenth further back

The CEFC Manor TRS Racing recorded a 1-2 in LMP2 with Jean-Eric Vergne setting the fastest lap in the LMP2 class of 2m02.662  in the no24 Oreca, 0.4 seconds ahead of the no25 Manor Oreca and one second in front of the third placed no36 Signatech Alpine A470-Gibson.

Aston Martin bounced back in FP2 with Nicki Thiim posting the best time of the day in LMGTE Pro with a 2m16.458 in the no95 Vantage, with the no92 Porsche GT Team 911 of Kevin Estre finishing the session second quickest despite the car being returned to the garage on the back of a recovery truck.  The two Ford GTs were third and fourth fastest, six tenths behind the leading Aston Martin

It was Ferrari’s turn to lead in LMGTE Am with the no54 Spirit of Race 488 of Miguel Molina finishing on a 2m17.806 lap, 0.1 ahead of the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage.