24 Hours of Le Mans – Qualifying: Ferrari crews to start mid-group
At midnight qualifying for the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans ended, the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) Super Season. The Ferrari cars in GTE-Pro class will start the race, which gets underway on Saturday at 15:00, from the centre of the pack, with the 488 GTE number 71 of Bird-Molina-Rigon heading out from the fourth row and the 51 of Calado-Pier Guidi-Serra to start from the sixth. In the GTE-Am class there’s an excellent fourth position for the Ferrari of JMW Motorsport team, with three more 488 GTEs able to qualify in the top ten positions..
GTE-Pro: complicated session
As expected, track conditions on Thursday were significantly better than on Wednesday. With the rain gone, the track, which is normally open to public traffic, has progressively built up rubber, allowing the various crews to improve their performance, yet the qualifications of the Ferraris entered in the GTE-Pro class nevertheless proved to be complicated. The race is, however, a very long one in which starting positions are not crucial. In the second qualifying session, staged from 19 to 21, all three Ferraris involved in the GTE-Pro class were able to go below the Wednesday limit. In car 71 Sam Bird chalked up 3’50″623, while James Calado on the 51, stopped the clock with a 3’51″019. In the final session, the crew of car 71 recorded 3’49″391 with Miguel Molina, who in the end earned eighth position on the grid. Car 51 of Calado then clocked up 3’49″655 giving the reigning world champion crew the twelfth place. The third 488 GTE entered in the main class will start from 17th the best time being a 3’51″454 set by Pipo Derani. Pole position was obtained by Nicky Thiim, Martin Sorensen and Darren Turner in 3’48″000.
GTE-Am: Segal’s great lap
In the very tight GTE-Am class, the best-placed Ferrari was the number 84 of JMW Motorsport team driven by Jeff Segal, Rodrigo Baptista and Wei Lu. Segal himself was the driver able to set a fine 3’52″423 to earn a place on the second row. Three other Ferraris occupy top ten positions. Car number 54 Spirit of Race, with Giancarlo Fisichella, Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci will start from seventh ahead of the 57 of Car Guy Racing (Kei Cozzolino-Takeshi Kimura-Come Ledogar). Tenth place for the 488 GTE number 60 of Kessel Racing in the hands of Sergio Pianezzola, Claudio Schiavoni and Andrea Piccini. A little further back are four other Ferraris: the 62 of the WeatherTech Racing/Scuderia Corsa (Vilander-MacNeil-Smith) is in thirteenth ahead of the number 70 of MR Racing (Ishikawa-Beretta-Cheever III), the 83 all-female Kessel Racing (Gostner-Gatting-Frey) and the 61 of Clearwater Racing (Griffin-Cressoni-Perez-Companc). On Friday, as per tradition, there will be no racing, but the drivers will nevertheless take part in the grand parade through the centre of Le Mans which kicks off at 5 pm. The parade will also feature the Ferrari Challenge Europe drivers.