Wednesday’s 120-minute qualifying session, which is followed by two more on Thursday, saw the TS030 HYBRIDs participate in their first competitive action after an intense period of testing and development.
When the chequered flag fell at midnight, the #7 TS030 HYBRID of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima was fourth. Nicolas set its best time of the session; 3mins 27.191secs.
The #8 TS030 HYBRID of Stéphane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi ended the session in sixth, although traffic severely disrupted its fastest lap. Anthony set its fastest time of 3mins 28.295secs.
All of the team’s six drivers completed the minimum five laps of night driving required in order to be allowed to participate in the race.
Earlier in the evening the #8 car lost most of the practice session after an engine failure left Anthony stranded on the track after only five laps and 34 minutes. The engine was changed in time for qualifying.
The #7 car completed a trouble-free session of aerodynamic and mechanical set-up evaluations.
The final starting grid for the 80th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours will be decided at the end of two remaining qualifying sessions on Thursday (19.00-21.00 and 22.00-00.00).
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “First of all it’s great to be back in competition; this is what we have been dreaming about for many months and finally the big event is here. In terms of performance, we appear to be on a reasonable level and this meets our expectations following the test day. Unfortunately we lost the practice session for the #8 car due to an engine failure, which is the first time we have suffered this problem. The engines have regularly completed more than a Le Mans distance without trouble on the dynos and the track, so this looks like a one-off problem. Finally at the end of qualifying, a minor hybrid system error prevented Alex finishing his stint, which is frustrating. Therefore we still have work to do tomorrow when we aim to improve in terms of pace and reliability.”