The 2016 24 hours of Le Mans finally kicked off with the first qualifying session on June 15 at 22:00 local time. Five minutes into qualifying, and only 10 cars remained in the pits, indicating heavy traffic on the circuit.
Amidst the chaos, Toyotaâ€™s Stephane Sarrazin set the first benchmark lap time with a 3:20.737 in the #6 TS050 Hybrid. Fast forward just 12 minutes, Neel Jani set the fastest time of 3:19.733 on lap 3 of his stint, securing provisional pole. For a motorsport event that lasts a complete day, it was surprising to see the fastest lap set so early into the session. Around half an hour into the session, Mark Webberâ€™s attempt to set a competitive time in his #1 919 Hybrid was cut short due to an untimely red flag.
In the LMP2 class, G-Drive Racingâ€™s Rene Rast secured provisional pole with a 3:36.605 lap time in the #26 Oreca 05, trailed closely by the two Alpines.
Things were particularly heated in the LMGTE Pro class, with the #66 and #67 Ford GTs setting consecutive fastest lap times of 3:51.590 and 3:52.038. Ferrari replied swiftly by one upping both lap times with a 3:51.568 lap time in the #51 488 GTE. However, just before the session came to an end at midnight, the two GTs managed to take back their positions.
Q2 will take place from 19:00 to 21:00 local time on June 16, with a final session from 22:00 to midnight.