Race Weekend Central

Antonio Fuoco Wins 24 Hours Of Le Mans Pole

Ferrari AF Corse’s Antonio Fuoco successfully backed up his form Thursday (June 8) from the opening round of qualifying. With a lap at 150.167 mph, the No. 50 Ferrari 499P will start Saturday’s 24 Hours of Le Mans from the overall pole.

“It felt amazing to do it in front of all of these people,” Fuoco told WEC’s Louise Beckett. “It was a really good lap, really tough qualifying. I am so proud of all of [the team]. It is something special.”

Fuoco won the pole by .773 seconds over teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi. Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Brendon Hartley qualified third, followed by Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Felipe Nasr, who only ran one lap at speed during the session. Kamui Kobayashi qualified fifth in the second Toyota.

The rules of Hyperpole are simple. 24 cars, the top eight from each of the three classes (Hypercar, LMP2 and GTE-Am), got 30 minutes to set their best possible lap time. Times can be deleted if track limits are violated, or if a driver brings out a red flag. With laps taking more than three minutes and nearly a quarter of the session necessary for anyone to set a lap, time was at the premium.

Ferrari AF Corse clearly came out to play. Pier Guidi turned in a lap at 149.493 mph to put himself on top of the chart. Fuoco was right behind. Unlike Pier Guidi, Fuoco chose to complete a second lap. That lap was a mere eight-thousandths of a second off Pier Guidi over 8.467 miles.

After a pit stop for a new set of tires, the leaders set off for another round of quick laps. Pier Guidi’s first lap improved by four-tenths of a second, but was deleted due to a track limit violation in the Porsche Curves.

Fuoco was nine-tenths of a second up on Pier Guidi through the first two sectors of the lap. Then, he ran up against slower traffic that cost him some time. He was still able to clock in with what ultimately ended up being the pole laps

With just over five minutes to go, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais stopped on the Mulsanne Straight with a fire in the back of his Cadillac V-Series.R to bring out a red flag. That cost Bourdais the third spot in qualifying and set up a sprint for the pole.

Both of the Ferraris chose to sit out the sprint, leaving Kobayashi and Hartley to try to beat the prancing horses. Neither of the Toyotas had the speed to compete with the Ferraris, but Hartley was able to improve. Kobayashi was actually faster than Hartley, but had his lap deleted due to a track limit violation.

In LMP2, JOTA Sport’s Pietro Fittipaldi had been the man to beat all the way back to the Test Day on Sunday. Here, he had stiff competition.

Nielsen Racing’s Ben Hanley, driving a car that teammate Rodrigo Sales had spun into the trap earlier in the day, usurped Fittipaldi to put himself on top. Right before the red flag, IDEC Sport’s Paul-Loup Chatin set a lap at 143.156 mph to put himself on pole.

After the red flag, Fittipaldi was on pace for pole, but lost time in the final sector. That gives the class pole to Chatin and IDEC Sport, racing under the colors of Delage, a relaunched boutique French manufacturer.

Chatin won the pole by .112 seconds over Fittipaldi. Team WRT’s Louis Deletraz was third, then COOL Racing’s Reshad de Gerus. Prema Racing’s Mirko Bortolotti was fifth while Hanley won the LMP2 Pro-Am pole in sixth.

In GTE-Am, regular driver eligibility rules are still in play. That means that Bronze-rated drivers must qualify the car.

Corvette Racing had Ben Keating on tap to qualify and he showed his best hand. Keating was quickest in class before the red flag, then improved by seven-tenths of a second to win the class pole with a lap at 131.172 mph.

Keating’s lap was a full 1.529 seconds faster than ORT by TF Aston Martin of Ahmad Al-Harthy. AF Corse’s Thomas Flohr was third in his Ferrari, then teammate Julien Piguet. Richard Mille AF Corse’s Luis Perez Companc was fifth.

FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP 24 HOURS OF LE MANS HYPERPOLE RESULTS

Since the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is an invitational entry, it did not take part in Hyperpole. However, Mike Rockenfeller timed in 38th overall during Wednesday’s qualifying session at 133.704 mph.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled to go green at 10 a.m. ET Saturday. Coverage of the race will begin at 9 a.m. ET on Motor Trend.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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