Pin and Wadoux's teams to start from P5, Iron Dames line up in P12 for 2023 Le Mans 24H
Doriane Pin and Lilou Wadoux's teams will take the start of the Centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans from fifth place in LMP2 and GTE-AM respectively; Iron Dames are set to start from P12 in class - with a full 24-hour race to recover.
Both the teams that had qualified for the Hyperpole session and featuring female drivers on their line ups will start from fifth place in their respective classes, following a closely fought 30-minute Hyperpole on Thursday evening.
Doriane Pin's #63 Prema Oreca had set the third fastest lap on Wednesday's qualifying practice, with Mirko Bortolotti only 42 thousand behind the class fastest time, set by the #28 JOTA Oreca of Pietro Fittipaldi - as the top three in LMP2 were separated by less than 5 hundredths. Pin, Bortolotti and Kvyat then went on to lead the night practice.
The Italian driver took over the Prema Oreca - which has been one of the cars to beat throughout the week - once again for Hyperpole, with pole position ambitions.
Bortolotti completed his first run in eighth - at the bottom of the class leaderboard - and then waited for the final minutes for his final attempt.
A red flag halted the action with 6 minutes to go - when the third-placed Cadillac hypercar driven by local hero Sebastien Bourdais caught fire and stopped on track after the second chicane. Bourdais was quickly out of the car, but he then eventually lost his quickest time having caused the red flag.
The top-eight in each of the three categories had time for one more out lap and a push lap: Bortolotti clocked a 3:33.983 on his very last lap which put the #63 Oreca he shares with Doriane Pin and Daniil Kvyat in fifth place in LMP2.
In LMGTE-AM, Lilou Wadoux's #83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE was starting from the top of the timing sheets with provisional pole position after Wednesday's session; Alessio Rovera was in fact fastest in class with a 3:51.877 set in the closing minutes of the session.
The Richard Mille entry was also a strong contender all week, with Wadoux - at her second Le Mans 24H but her first in GTE machinery - being very consistent in her runs.
The young Frenchwoman is tackling her first Le Mans as a Ferrari factory driver and shares the car with Rovera as well as Bronze-rated Luis Perez Companc. The trio won the previous FIA WEC 6-hour race at Spa Francorchamps and sit second in the GTE-AM championship standings.
By FIA WEC rules, the GTE-AM class requires the Bronze drivers to contest the qualifying, therefore Perez-Companc got behind the wheel of the #83 Ferrari for the Hyperpole.
The class was dominated by Corvette Racing's Ben Keating, who has shared the front row with Iron Dames' Sarah Bovy throughout the season so far. With the all-female trio not qualifying for the Hyperpole session, Keating was left with little competition on the single-lap performance and took pole by 1.5 seconds.
Perez Companc, though, proved to be a strong contender in his attempt, setting the fastest first sector overall and almost matching Keating's second sector midway through the session. Unfortunately, he encountered traffic in the final corners and had a big slide coming out of the last chicane, which cost him 1.3 seconds. He was still able to slot into third place, before Al Harthy, Flohr and Piguet improved.
Times further dropped towards the end and, from sixth, Perez Companc gained one more position to finish fifth in class - securing a good starting position for the Richard Mille crew.
After a challenging qualifying practice Iron Dames would take the start from P12 in GTE-AM, not having made it to the top eight on Wednesday. The pink #85 Porsche made good progress throughout the sessions and was sixth fastest in the night practice. Moreover, Gatting, Bovy and Frey's experience at the race - as well as their highly consistent pace suggest that nothing is lost for the Dames, who will have 24 hours to make up positions.
Teams will have one more night practice on Thursday, before hitting the track on Saturday morning for the warm up that precedes the start of the biggest motoring event in the world.