Brendon Hartley sets fastest time for Porsche in shortened qualifying practice session
New Zealander Brendon Hartley piloted the #20 Rebellion R-One Porsche 919 Hybrid to a strong qualifying session setting the fastest lap time at 3:23.179 for the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans. Neel Jani in the #14 Porsche finished 0.77 seconds behind to make it a Porsche front row for the provisional grid. The #7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid clocked the third fastest with Stephane Sarrazin at the wheel, although the car had to stop in the middle of the track due to engine oil pressure loss.
The two hour qualifying practice session of the 82nd annual endurance race was cut short to just 46 minutes due to multiple accidents and red flag stoppages. The session was cut at 23h30 when the barrier at the Porsche Curves needed repairs due to contact by the #99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 driven by Brazlian Fernando Rees.
The #26 G-Drive Racing Morgan Nissan clocked the fastest time for the LMP2 division with Olivier Pla setting a time of 3:38.843. The #36 Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan driven by Paul-Loup Chatin followed in second, while Alexandre Imperatori drove the #47 KCMG ORECA 03R Nissan to third at 3:39.586 as the top three runners all clocked in within a second.
In the LMGTE Pro class, it was a Ferrari-Aston Martin-Porsche combination at the top of the classification with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Gianmaria Bruni clocking 3:54.754, leading the way by three tenths of a second. Stefan Mücke drove the #97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 clocking not too far off behind followed by the #92 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR in third.
Despite setting the fastest lap for the LMGTE Am cars, the SMP Racing Ferrari found itself stuck in the gravel trap pre-maturely ending its session. The #61 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Marco Cioci followed in second. The Dempsey Proton Porsche and Proton Competition #88 Porsche 911 RSR were immediately behind with Klaus Bachler behind the wheel.
Loïc Duval was requested to be replaced by the race stewards after his airborne accident aboard the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro at the Porsche curves in the afternoon. Interestingly, Audi made a 'welcoming video' for Porsche recently with the #1 R18 e-tron quattro car.
Duval will be replaced by Spanish driver Marc Gené, who in turn will be replaced by Briton Oliver Turvey, who will take the wheel of the #38 JOTA Sport Zytek Nissan LMP2 car. Turvey however has to present himself and all his racing equipment to the Secretary of the Meeting and receive a special briefing from the Race Director.