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Wadoux, Pin's teams through to Hyperpole after Le Mans qualifying

Having topped the timesheets in the LMGTE-AM class, the Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari which features Lilou Wadoux among its drivers will battle for Hyperpole, as well as Doriane Pin's #63 Prema Oreca, third fastest time in LMP2 by 42 thousands of a second.

Photo credits: Ferrari Races

The 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans is officially underway with a practice session and qualifying practice already in the books. The most mythical race on the planet - this year famously reaching the important milestone of the centenary - features five female drivers, all potentially with winning ambitions in their respective classes. Doriane Pin, 19, is contesting her very first 24 Hours at La Sarthe, but her debut season in LMP2 machinery has been nothing short of remarkable so far. The young Frenchwoman is part of the Iron Dames stable and, after winning in utterly dominant fashion the Ferrari Challenge Europe title, was promoted to her first prototype drive with Prema Racing. With the Italian team, Pin - who is teaming up with Lamborghini factory driver Mirko Bortolotti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat - has been very close to her first win in WEC in the first three rounds. With a podium at debut - and often faster than her way more experienced teammates - Pin only missed out on a class win due to bad luck from ill-timed FCY or strategy mistakes; at her first Le Mans participation, though, Pin is looking strong with the #63 crew, who has been running in the top three throughout practice. Pin, Kvyat and Bortolotti were in fact third fastest in the first practice session, behind the JOTA Oreca of Henemeier-Hansson, Rasmussen and Fittipaldi and the COOL Racing Oreca of Lapierre, Coigny and Jakobsen. An incredibly close qualifying session saw the #28 JOTA remaining on the top of the timesheets, with Pietro Fittipaldi's 3:34.751 which was barely 2 thousands of a second faster than the #41 Team WRT Oreca driven by Louis Deletraz. In the hands of Mirko Bortolotti, the #63 Prema Oreca was again third fastest, 42 thousand behind the class fastest time. With the top eight in each class making it through to the Hyperpole session, Doriane Pin's team will battle for the LMP2 pole position on Thursday.

Photo credits: Prema Racing

There will be one more team with a female driver among its lineup in Hyperpole - also in the GTE-AM class - as Lilou Wadoux's Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo topped qualifying in the hands of Alessio Rovera, in the closing minutes. Wadoux is at her second Le Mans 24H, having made her debut in 2022 in the Richard Mille Racing Team's LMP2 Oreca. In her first season of endurance racing, Wadoux had a brilliant run last year, claiming her first top ten in class in FIA WEC. Her results were so convincing that she eventually secured a Hypercar rookie test at the end of the season, and was picked up by Ferrari as factory driver in the Italian brand's GT racing programme - becoming the first woman to represent the Prancing Horse in a factory role. “I’m in my first 24 Hours as an official Ferrari driver", Lilou commented. "My first goal is to finish the race and earn plenty of precious points towards the championship standings and then if we manage to get on the podium that would be an even better goal. Here in France, there are so many fans at the track, I want to thank them for the great support they have been giving me at this, my ‘home’ race." Lilou, 22 from Amiens, France, made history at the previous round in Spa Francorchamps, when she took victory in GTE-AM - and wrote her name in the history books as the first ever woman to win in FIA WEC. Wadoux had finished on the podium at Portimao as well, with a second place that strongly suggested that she would likely be battling for race wins. Her central part of the race was marked by amazing recovery drives, often bringing the car to the class lead before the driver changes. "We had a great win at Spa, but we still have some areas where we need to improve, during pit stops or in traffic management, the latter which will be very important at Le Mans, given the large number of cars in the race", Wadoux continued. "Compared to the Belgian race, Le Mans is a different track, in terms of aerodynamics too: we will have to improve in certain areas, but we are all ready for this race.” At Le Mans, Ferrari teams have been fast in GTE-AM since testing; with seventh in FP1, the Richard Mille AF Corse entry was looking like a strong contender for Hyperpole, and now a spectacular lap in qualifying puts the #83 machine in contention for pole position. Second in class, 0.037 of a second behind, was the #54 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon. The only woman to have qualified for Hyperpole so far is Iron Dames' Rahel Frey, who brought the all-female trio to the top eight in class last year.

Photo credits: Steffen Heise / Porsche

Only a few days after the 1000km of Paul Ricard - where Iron Dames were in contention for a class podium for the first time since their switch to Lamborghini machinery - Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey return behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR GTE car.

Iron Dames currently sit fifth in the GTE-AM championship standings, having finished third at Portimao and fifth in Spa.

“I’m very much looking forward to contesting my fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Iron Dames squad", said Michelle Gatting ahead of qualifying. "Competing at the 100th anniversary is something very special. We’re all extremely motivated and we know we have a powerful car and a strong team behind us. We’re heading into the race with a lot of respect – anything can happen. Still, we’re hungry to get to the top.”

The team climbed the order in FP1, when Michelle Gatting clocked a 3:55.883 lap that put the pink #85 Porsche in eighth place.

In qualifying practice, the Danish driver improved to a 3:53.603 - which resulted in a P12 that unfortunately wasn't enough to make it into the top eight that will go through Hyperpole.

None of the Porsche qualified for the top-8, as Iron Dames remain the fastest of the Iron Lynx entries.

Night practice rounds out Wednesday action, while the Hyperpole session that will set the grid will get underway on Thursday and 20:00 local time, following a 3-hour long third practice at 15:00.



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