Iron Dames to start from P6 in 2022 Le Mans 24H
Iron Dames will start the 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans from the third row in P6 after Rahel Frey made history on Wednesday by becoming the first woman to gain access to the HyperPole session.
With an impressive qualifying session on Wednesday, Rahel Frey had brought the Iron Dames #85 Ferrari 488 GTE-Am into the top six in qualifying, gaining access to the HyperPole session on Thursday. She became the first ever woman to take part in HyperPole.
The 30-minute session was a track-limits fest, with lap times appearing and disappearing from the timing screen as times were deleted.
At the 10 minute mark, none of the hypercars had set a valid lap time and Rahel Frey completed her first run by moving into third place in GTE-Am and within the overall top-ten with a 3:54.001 lap, behind Vincent Abril (AF Corse Ferrari) and Mikkel Jensen (Kessel Racing Ferrari), in a Ferrari 1-2-3.
Brendon Hartley topped the timesheets after setting a 3:25.213, as the New Zealander was almost a second faster than his Toyota teammate Kamui Kobayashi.
Rahel Frey was on a faster lap but had her second run deleted by track limits, while Nicki Thiim (Northwest Aston Martin Racing) improved to third in class and demoted Iron Dames to P4.
An outstanding battle for the overall pole position was underway in the final 10 dramatic minutes, with both the Toyotas going out on track for their final runs on new tyres. Ryan Briscoe (#709 Glickenhaus) briefly went into second place, just before the #36 Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre claimed the top spot among the crowd's cheers. Lapierre's 3:24.850 was then beaten by three tenths by the #7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi – but there was further drama when his lap was disallowed.
When the prestigious pole position seemed in the hands of the Alpine hypercar, the two Toyotas' lap times reappeared on the timing screen, ultimately handing pole to the Japanese marque for a front row lockout. It was Brendon Hartley, though, to set the fastest time of the session, breaking Kobayashi's streak at the race.
The Alpine and the two Glickenhaus round out the hypercar class.
In LMP2, WRT were 1-2 with the #31 and #41 Orecas driven by Robin Frijns and Norman Nato respectively, as Felipe Albuquerque put the #22 United Autosport Oreca in third place after edging the JOTA and Prema prototypes. Da Costa and Deletraz were in fact briefly in third place, before the Portuguese driver improved in the final minutes.
It was incredibly close in GTE-Pro, with the Corvette Racing cars of Tandy and Garcia initially splitting the Porsches driven by Makowiecki and Vanthoor. Garcia was then able to move into second place to secure a 1-2 for Corvette. The AF Corse Ferraris round out the class.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Rahel Frey was back in the pits for a fresh set of tyres and the Swiss ace did manage to improve her time – setting a 3:53.869 that wasn't fast enough for third. When Tincknell and Cassidy improved, though, Frey dropped to sixth across the chequered flag. Iron Dames will therefore start from the third row of the grid in Saturday's race – in an extremely encouraging starting position and the highest placed Iron Lynx car.
“Yesterday was a great day for the Iron Dames", said Andrea Piccini, Team Principal of Iron Lynx. "Making it into Hyperpole is such a proud moment for everyone in the team, and it shows that we’re competitive and that the work from the past few years is now paying off."
“Sarah, Michelle and Rahel have created a very strong chemistry this season, and they’re achieving good performances."
“It is a shame as it was looking like we were going to get P4, but due to track limits we finished in P6. We’ve raced hard and fairly, and we’re well prepared to have a good race", Piccini continued. "We believe there’s a great potential for a special result, so now, we all prepare for the big race on Saturday now!”
Class pole position went to Vincent Abril (#61 AF Corse Ferrari) ahead of Mikkel Jensen (#57 Kessel Racing Ferrari) and Harry Tincknell (#77 Porsche Proton).
Having shown pace for the top five all week in practice, the Iron Dames – who already have three top-ten finishes under their belt – will try to improve their record at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Sophia Floersch will start from P6 in LMP2 ProAm and P21 in the overall LMP2 grid following an unlucky qualifying on Wednesday from APR teammate Jack Aitken, while Lilou Wadoux and Richard Mille Racing's teammates will start from P7 in LMP2.
The 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will get underway on Saturday at 16:00 local.