12 June 2014
Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota moves ahead in Q2, Audi crashes again
Kazuki Nakajima hauls his Toyota ahead of the Porsches in Q2 to snatch provisional pole position, but there is more drama for the cursed #1 Audi...
Kazuki Nakajima has grabbed provisional pole position following second qualifying for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours after another dramatic session punctuated by red flag periods and headlined by another crash for the #1 Audi.
Already suffering with a relative lack of track time after Q1 was canned after just an hour, it was expected that lap times would come down quickly in Q2, particularly in the warm and balmy weather conditions.
However, Brendon Hartley's top time in the #20 Porsche would stand for much of the session and at one point looked good enough to hold firm right to the end of Q2, particularly when a red flag with 30mins remaining threatened to end proceedings early yet again.
The red flag itself was deployed for a controversial clash involving the #1 Audi – back out following the huge crash for Loic Duval yesterday – after it suffered another prang in the hands of Lucas di Grassi, the Brazilian spinning into the barrier after running wide at Indianapolis.
Nonetheless, he would get going again, albeit slowly, di Grassi crawling towards the pit lane trailing bodywork. However, as he attempted to move across towards the pit lane entry on the right-hand side of the circuit, fast approaching traffic prompted him to jink back to the left and away from the racing line.
Unfortunately for him, the at-speed LMP2 Pegasus Morgan driven by Leo Roussel had committed to the same line and, with nowhere to go, took to the grass in avoidance at high-speed. Losing control, the French spun across the track and into the wall, causing heavy damage to the car and forcing the session to stop.
With the session restarted with 15mins remaining, each car poured onto circuit in an attempt to improve on the lap times, including the hastily repaired #1 Audi. di Grassi, however, was summoned to the stewards to explain his part in the accident.
It was in this small window at the end of the session that the leaderboard would change rapidly, Timo Bernhard furthering the #20 Porsche's advantage with the first lap of the week to dip below 3m 23secs, only for Nakajima to shoot to the top with a best lap of 3m 22.689secs with just seconds on the clock remaining.
With Romain Dumas slotting the #14 Porsche into second place late on too it means the overall order would indeed be all change, Toyota taking over with provisional pole position – one that could well stand as temperatures slowly drop into the Q3 session -, with Porsche still poised just one and three tenths adrift respectively.
Another frustrating session for Audi, the #3 R18 leads its charge in fourth place, Oliver Jarvis getting the marque closer to the front six tenths off the ultimate pace. Meanwhile, the #8 Toyota, the #2 Audi and the #1 Audi follow up in fifth, sixth and seventh.
LMP2 would also see several changes to the lead, with the Thiriet by TDS Ligier snatching the top spot with the final lap of the session, ahead of the Murphy Oreca piloted by Nathaneal Berthon and Oliver Webb in the Signatech Alpine.
In the GTEPro class, the #51 Ferrari Bruni, Vilander and Fisichella remains quickest, while the SMP Ferrari headed up by Andrea Bertolini remains top of GTEAm.
A dramatic session in all, there was also a crash for James Calado in the AF Corse Ferrari – which necessitated the first red flag of the session -, while the Prospeed Porsche is unlikely to take any further part today after hitting the barrier at turn one.
There were several spinners too, most notably Frederic Makowiecki in the factory Porsche after he was tagged by Raffaele Gianmaria at the final chicane, sending both – and the close following Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana - into the gravel trap.
Due to the delays, Q3 starts earlier at 20.30GMT and will last for 2 and a half hours.
Le Mans 24 Hours
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