Full Le Mans 24 Hours - Free Practice Results [3]

Nicolas Lapierre hauled Alpine to the top of the timesheets for the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours ahead of Toyota in the final free practice session before this evening’s Hyperpole session.

The ‘grandfathered’ Alpine A480 - so-called because it is adapted from an LMP2 chassis to meet Hypercar regulations - has represented an interesting threat to favourites Toyota throughout preparations for the round-the-clock classic, with its proven reliability and impressive performance through corners.

And so it proved again in FP3, Lapierre dodging the various yellow flags and two red flag periods - not to mention an off at Indianapolis in which he avoided damage - to take the French machine he will share with Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andre Negrao to the top spot.

However, there remains a sense Toyota are the favourites heading into the Hyperpole session later 

tonight with Jose Maria Lopez in the #7 GR010 Hybrid en route for the top spot before being slowed by yellow flags.

One those came courtesy of the sister #8 Toyota when Kazuki Nakajima dropped the Hypercar at Indianapolis and damaged the rear-end of his car, though he was able to recover it back to the pit-lane for repairs.

Glickenhaus face a nervy couple of days ahead of the race after both cars began to suffer gremlins, necessitating engine changes that kept them in the pit lane until the final hour. The #708 car driven by Olivier Pla ended the session fourth, but the #709 car was well down the order after seemingly hitting more problems towards the conclusion of the session.

Two red flags for similar incidents at different times brought a halt to track action after Derrick Merriman crashed  his IDEC Sport at the Dunlop chicane, which was then followed by a similar incident for the DragonSpeed car driven by Juan Pablo Montoya.

It is the second big rebuild for the IDEC team after the #48 car also crashed heavily in Qualifying, while DragonSpeed were also in the wall late on in FP2.

In LMP2, Jota continued to look strong with the fattest time set in the final minutes courtesy of Antonio Felix da Costa, pushing aside Fabio Scherer and Paul di Resta in the sister United Autosports cars. 

Panis Racing and Team WRT - helmed by James Allen and Robin Frijns respectively - completed the top five in class.

In GTE Pro, Kevin Estre was quickest once again for Porsche, ahead of the privateer WeatherTech 911 of Earl Bamber, while Richard Leitz ensured a 1-2-3 for the German manufacturer.

Porsche dominated the GTE Am class too with Julien Andlauer quicker for the Dempsey-Proton team, ahead of the sister Project 1 car of Matteo Cairoli.