Le Mans 24 Hours: Buemi keeps Toyota on top in twice red-flagged FP2 – WEC

by Sep 17, 20200 comments

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Toyota remained firmly on top in the second three-hour practice session for the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours, which was interrupted twice by heavy accidents.

Both Toyota TS050 hybrids were initially hovering around the 3m21s mark until Sebastien Buemi fired off a lap of 3m19.719s in the #8 car just before the two-hour mark. Buemi’s time was nine tenths clear of the #7 sister car, which was second courtesy of Mike Conway’s late 3m20.611s.

Nathanael Berthon put the #3 Rebellion R-13 in third, 3.456s behind Buemi’s benchmark. The lone #4 ByKolles entry was fourth in class, but slower than the leading LMP2 car, Tom Dillmann clocking a 3m27.304s at the start of the session.

Rebellion’s #1 car was stuck in the garage for most of the session to complete an engine change.

In LMP2, reigning Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries set a benchmark on 3m27.884s in the first hour in the #29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA 07.

It took until the final hour for the competition to get close, Will Stevens clocking a 3m28.011s in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA, but De Vries then put the Dutch team further out in front with a 3m27.185s.

Stevens’ stablemate Antonio Felix da Costa made it a second Goodyear-shod car in the top three with third in the #38 Jota ORECA, a further five tenths back from the ex-Caterham and Manor Formula 1 driver.

Aston Martin looked set to continue its clean sweep in GTE Pro until Michael Christensen overhauled Alex Lynn’s time in the final 20 minutes of the session to go fastest in the #92 Porsche RSR-19.

The Danish driver set a time of 3m52.783s to put himself more than half a second clear of Lynn’s benchmark in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage.

Gianmaria Bruni was third in the second #91 Porsche, followed by Toni Vilander in the #63 Weathertech Ferrari and James Calado in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari.

In GTE Am, the #98 Aston Martin held top spot for most of the session courtesy of Augusto Farfus’ early laptime of 3m55.167s, until Come Ledogar in the #61 Luzich Ferrari moved to the top with 10 minutes to go.

But the Frenchman was then overhauled himself by Matt Campbell’s #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche as the Weissach marque’s factory works driver clocked a 3m53.961, the fifth fastest time of any GTE car.

The session was red flagged twice for heavy crashes, each involving an IDEC Sport LMP2 car. Just before the one-hour mark, Paul Lafargue hit the barriers coming out of the second chicane in the #28 IDEC ORECA.

An hour later, teammate Dwight Merriman crashed heavily coming out of the Porsche Curves in the #17 sister car, meaning the French team is facing an uphill battle to get ready for Thursday afternoon’s first 45-minute qualifying session.

The fastest six cars in each class from that session will progress to Friday’s Hyperpole shootout.

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