Hulkenberg P3 as Porsche dominates first qualifying

© XPB 

Nico Hulkenberg finished third fastest in the opening qualifying session for the Le Mans 24 Hours as Porsche dominated.

Taking part in his first Le Mans weekend, Hulkenberg's #19 Porsche 919 - co-driven by Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy - was 2.4s slower than Neel Jani's impressive 3:16.887 in the lead Porsche. Jani's time in the #18 car which he shares with Marc Leib and Romain Dumas - was nearly five seconds quicker than the pole position time from 2014.

It was a Porsche 1-2-3 in the opening two-hour night session for the race, with the #17 of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber finishing 0.880s adrift of the quickest time.

With the three Audi entries finishing the opening session fourth, fifth and sixth, Toyota continues to look off the pace of the leading two manufacturers as its quickest time was some 6.6s off the pace.

Nissan's new LMP1 project continues to look under threat from LMP2 cars as former Marussia driver Max Chilton's #23 Nissan GT-R LM Nismo was some 21.5s slower than the quickest Porsche and 0.4s behind the LMP2 KCMG Oreca 05-Nissan driven by Richard Bradley, Matthew Howson and Nicolas Lapierre.

The opening qualifying practice session was delayed for more than 20 minutes following a crash for the #41 Greaves Motorsport car at Mulsanne corner which required repairs to the barrier.

With Porsche now hot favourites to hold on to pole position, there will be two more qualifying practice sessions on Thursday evening from 1900 - 2100 and 2200 - 0000 local time, though the weather forecast shows a heavy threat of thunderstorms over the Circuit de la Sarthe.

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