autosport.com
Search:
Find out more about our subscriptions
  AUTOSPORT+ LOGIN   
Username:
Password:
LIVE COMMENTARY: LE MANS 24 HOURS 2014 - WEDNESDAY: PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Wednesday: Practice and qualifying
By Edd Straw, Glenn Freeman, Gary Watkins and Scott Mitchell
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
13:43 Welcome to the start of AUTOSPORT's live coverage of the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Four hours of free practice are about to begin at a warm Circuit de la Sarthe, before the first qualifying session (and night running) is held later on.

2014 Le Mans 24 Hours driver photo

13:45 Engines have been running in the pitlane for the last 20 minutes or so, as the teams get ready to roll out for the first time since the test day on June 1.

Toyota, Le Mans test day13:49 Toyota set the pace when the cars were in action earlier this month for the test, but the best of the Audis was within one second of the pace set by Sebastien Buemi.

All seven of the factory LMP1 cars from Toyota, Audi and Porsche were covered by less than two seconds.

13:55 Air temperature is 24C with five minutes to go until the session kicks off.

13:57 Plenty of the cars have been pushed out of the garages and onto the pit apron already, including two Audis, one Porsche, and one Toyota.

13:58 With a couple of minutes to go before this four-hour free practice session, there's already a queue forming at the pitlane exit. One of the Toyotas is at the front of the line.

14:00 And the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours weekend is go. Anthony Davidson leads a queue of cars onto the track for free practice.

14:00 @Audi__Sport: "Starting drivers: No.1 Tom Kristensen, No.2 Benoît @BenoitTreluyer, No.3 @Marco@MarcoBonanomi"

14:02 The #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid is behind Davidson on track, with Le Mans returnee Mark Webber at the wheel.

14:03 AUTOSPORT's media centre vantage point is perfectly positioned to scrutinise AF Corse's pitstop efforts.

14:07 There are a number of LMP2 cars on track, with the likes of Mika Salo (SMP ORECA), and OAK Ligier duo Ho-Pin Tung (OAK Ligier) and Jann Mardenborough among 12 of the 18-strong field on early flying laps.

14:08 Davidson, piloting the #8 Toyota TS040, becomes the first driver to complete a flying lap, putting in a 3m26.417s. That's around 3.4s slower than the car's fastest lap on the test day. Still a quick start on a dirty track.

14:10 And Sarrazin makes it a Toyota one-two, putting in a 3m29.014s in the #7 car.

14:11 The distinctive Nissan Zeod already seems to be in trouble. It has stopped on track and is being attended to by marshals.

14:11 Salo's the first to set a time in P2, but it's an unrepresentative 3m56.029s – to put that in perspective, the fastest Test Day time was 3m37.795s (#26 OAK Morgan-Nissan).

14:13 The Nissan Zeod RC is being pushed to safety after stopping on its outlap. Looks like it's at the second chicane on the Mulsanne Straight. We've also got the #92 Manthey Porsche 911 RSR crawling slowly around the circuit.

14:13 Johnny Mowlem's the early GTE-Am benchmark in the Ram Racing Ferrari 458 Italian. The Briton's time is a 4m03.600s.

14:15 Davidson improves his fastest lap to a 3m26.063s. He currently 1.759s faster than Toyota team-mate Sarrazin.

14:15 Ludovic Badey brings the quickest P2 time down to 3m48.287s in the Thiriet by TDS Ligier-Nissan.

14:15 Marco Holzer is still trying to get the #92 Manthey Porsche back to the pits. It's not fast, but he's getting there.

14:18 Matt Howson goes almost a second clear at the top of the P2 times, the #47 KCMG ORECA lapping in 3m47.485s.

14:19 The #14 Porsche of Marc Lieb returns to the pits and is wheeled back into the garage. The #92 Manthey Porsche has also finally made it back to the pits.

14:21 Mowlem improves to a 4m02.757s, leading a Ferrari 1-2-3 in GTE-Am with Al Faisal (JMW) and Giammaria (AF Corse) behind.

Incidentally, Mowlem's time is quicker than any of the GTE-Pro drivers' early attempts. Mind you, that's a touch irrelevant at this stage.

14:21 Tandy currently sets the GTE Pro pace in the #91 Manthey Porsche on a 4m02.793s.

14:22 Single-seater convert Sam Bird jumps to second quickest in GTE-Am, 0.02s slower than Mowlem. It's now a Ferrari 1-2-3-4-5!

14:23 Davidson improves again. He's put in a 3m25.767s.

14:24 Tandy has improved to a 4m02.053s, meaning he has jumped clear of the leading GTE Am cars.

14:25 P2 is now topped by the #34 Race Performance ORECA-Judd/BMW, which Franck Mailleux has just wrestled a 3m44.021s out of.

14:26 Davidson heads into the pits in the Toyota after completing a seven-lap opening run for the #7 car. So far, 33 cars have posted laptimes.

14:29 The top seven positions are occupied by the works Toyotas, Audis and Porsches. The other two top-class cars, the Rebellion R-Ones running in the LMP1-L class, have not set flying laps but have each completed an installation lap.

Rebellion has been given a series of performance breaks to allow it to be more competitive, giving it a 40kg weight break and an increase in fuel allowance and capacity.

14:30 Bird twice improves the #81 AF Ferrari's best time to move into (and then consolidate) GTE-Am top spot.

That class benchmark is now 3m59.497s – the first sub-4m lap of the session for any GT car – and so Bird's back above Pro pacesetter Tandy.

14:30 Sarrazin knocks Toyota team-mate Davidson off top spot, setting a 3m25.463s.

14:33 Change at the top of P2 as well, as Paul-Loup Chatin puts the #36 Signatech Alpine ORECA-Nissan quickest on a 3m43.210s.

Karun Chandhok has moved into second fastest in his similarly-chassised/engined Murphy Prototypes machine, with Mailleux bumped to third in class.

14:35 Mardenborough leaps to P2 top spot, improving to a 3m42.277s – a second faster than Chatin as the times begin to tumble.

14:37 Bird's been joined in the sub-4m club in GTE-Am by Joe Foster's #77 Dempsey Porsche. That's the new, 991-shaped 911 for you Porsche fans out there.

First person to tweet Edd Straw with the names of the teams running old 997-shaped Porsches wins five AUTOSPORT Live points.

14:38 And there's the first flying lap from a Rebellion, with Dominik Kraihamer going eighth fastest on a 3m40.303s in the #13 car.

14:40 Chatin improves to leapfrog Chandhok for second (the Frenchman's now on a 3m42.807s) but Mardenborough's slashed his quickest time by two seconds, so his benchmark now stands at 3m40.611s.

14:42 Davidson retakes top spot, lapping 0.152s faster than Sarrazin. It's still a Toyota one-two in favour of the #8 car. Next best is Benoit Treluyer's Audi R18, 2.592s off the pace.

14:43 Di Grassi has gone third fastest in the #1 Audi. He's just nine-tenths off, and set the fastest times we've seen so far in the first and third sectors.

14:47 Di Grassi puts Audi to the top of the times for the first time in this session. He's set a 3m24.729s, 0.582s faster than Davidson.

14:48 Ligier's P2, atop the class times with Jann Mardenborough's OAK example, is a lone beast at present – it's the only coupe in the class.

We know that'll change next season, with ORECA and HPD committed to building closed-top P2 cars, and now British constructor Zytek will join them as well.

GARY WATKINS has the story:

Zytek announces LMP2 coupe for 2016

14:49 We also now have a full-house of LMP1 cars in the top nine positions on the timesheets. The Rebellion R-Ones have now both set times, albeit over 15s off the pace.

14:50 Porsche made some cooling tweaks to the #20 car and has now sent Webber back out.

14:50 Mirko Venturi makes it an AF Ferrari one-two at the top of the GTE-Am times, but falls 0.001s shy of Bird's benchmark.

14:57 Only five of the 55 cars have yet to complete flying laps: The Nissan ZEOD (which stopped on track with a 'drive' issue), the #26 OAK Morgan, the #43 Morand Morgan, the #72 SMP Ferrari and the #92 Manthey Porsche.

14:59 According to race control, the #3 Audi driven by Bonanomi has had a trip through the gravel at the first Mulsanne chicane

15:00 Davidson retakes top spot for Toyota, putting in a 3m23.897s lap. That's just under nine-tenths slower than the fastest time on the test day.

Jurgen Barth15:00 @gazzasportscars has just run into 1977 Le Mans winner Jurgen Barth. Their chat centred on two things: the Porsche 908/3 (obviously) and food (rather less obviously).

Jurgen is writing a cook book. Is there no end to the man's talents? He's been a driver, rule maker, series boss, race official and author over the years, and now it turns out he's a bit of a dab hand in the kitchen.

15:02 Davidson improves again to 3m23.652s, over a second up on Duval's #1 Audi.

15:04 Interesting that it took only an hour for the P1 boys to get into the same second as the quickest times at the Test Day. Davidson is now only six tenths off team-mate Buemi's table-topping time from earlier this month

15:05 After one hour, here are the leading LMP1 runners:

LMP1:
1. #8 Toyota 3m23.652s
2. #1 Audi +0.832s
3. #7 Toyota +1.566s
4. #2 Audi +2.248s
5. #20 Porsche +3.273s

And the top three from the other classes:

LMP2:
1. #35 OAK Ligier-Nissan 3m40.11s
2. #48 Murphy ORECA-Nissan
3. #47 KCMG ORECA-Nissan

GTE Pro:
1. #71 AF Corse Ferrari 3m58.263s
2. #91 Manthey Porsche
3. #51 AF Corse Ferrari

GTE Am:
1. #81 AF Corse Ferrari 3m59.497s
2. #61 AF Corse Ferrari
3. #77 Dempsey Porsche

15:06 Session stopped for a huge accident.

15:06 It's the #1 Audi driven by Duval at the Porsche Curves.

15:10 We haven't seen the accident itself, but the Audi has suffered substantial damage.

15:16 This looks like it will be a very lengthy stoppage.

15:19 The Audi is being loaded onto a truck and has a cover over it. An ambulance is driving away from the scene.

15:25 The garage door of the #1 Audi pit has been closed. Work is continuing to load the car onto a truck. Looks like there will also need to be some barrier repairs.

15:31 The truck carrying the #1 Audi has made it back to the pits.

15:39 While the car has been cleared up, the session will not get back underway any time soon. Significant work needs to be done to repair the fencing. There's currently two hours 20 minutes remaining in this free practice session.

15:45 Radio Le Mans has spoken to Audi Sport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, who said that Duval is talking and has been taken away for checks after his massive accident.

15:46 Race control estimates that the session will restart at 1755, which is in nine minutes.

15:50 From Audi Sport: "Duval is alert. He will be transported from the Medical Center to the hospital for further examinations."

15:53 Should the session resume when estimated, there will be just over two hours left on the clock.

15:55 Free practice is back underway.

15:55 Dumas in the #14 Porsche 919 leads the cars onto the track.

15:58 Audi is getting back to work. Both of its cars are on the pit apron, getting ready to return to the track.

15:59 The #62 GTE Am AF Ferrari has spun at the first Mulsanne chicane.

16:01 If you're just joining our coverage, here is what we know about #1 Audi driver Loic Duval after that massive accident at the Porsche Curves:

Duval conscious after huge crash

16:03 Chatin is the first driver to improve since the resumption of the session, jumping to second on a 3m41.096s.

16:04 We're past halfway on the clock now, and at the front the order is #8 Toyota, #1 Audi, #7 Toyota, #2 Audi, #3 Audi, #20 Porsche, #14 Porsche, followed by the two Rebellion R-Ones.

The #35 OAK Ligier leads LMP2, while the #71 AF Corse Ferrari leads GTE Pro. Another AF Ferrari, the #81 car, leads the way in GTE Am.

16:07 From @NissanZEODRC: "ZEOD back in the garage. We had a gearbox issue. We're swapping out the entire rear. Hope to get back out tonight."

The #43 Morand Morgan-Judd/BMW and the #92 Manthey Porsche are the only other cars yet to register a time.

16:09 Nicolas Minassian moves into second in LMP2 in the #37 SMP Racing Oreca, moving ahead of Signatech Alpine's Paul-Loup Chatin, who had improved just a few seconds prior.

16:10 Nakajima improves in the #7 Toyota, but he stays third and is now 1.7s off the sister TS040 HYBRID at the front.

16:11 A change at the top of GTE Pro now, but still an AF Corse Ferrari leads the way.

Toni Vilander has put the #51 car ahead of its #71-badged sibling, and by some distance too – a 3m57.322s. That's only a tenth shy of the best class time from the Test Day.

16:13 The Astons have yet to feature at the sharp end of either GTE class so far, but its best Pro and Am representatives have both just improved to fourth in each category.

Fernando Rees' 3m59.041s and Pedro Lamy's 4m00.729s are the best respective times for the #99 and #98 Aston Martin Vantages.

16:13 A new benchmark for Beche puts the lead Rebellion 10.3s adrift of the leading #8 Toyota.

16:14 Well, Lamy was fourth in GTE Am. Paolo Ruberti has just nipped ahead in the #90 8Star...Ferrari. The 458s look quick early doors.

16:15 What of the Corvettes in GTE Pro? They are line astern in class, sixth (#73) and seventh (#74) respectively.

16:16 First we see of the #92 Manthey Porsche and Marco Holzer's leapt to fourth in GTE Pro on a 3m58.905s. Rees looked set to improve in the #99 Aston but pit after two personal-best sectors.

16:17 Dumas sets a new personal best for the #14 Porsche, which is still the slowest of the seven works LMP1 cars and sits 4.9s off the pace.

16:18 Chandhok moves the Murphy Prototypes ORECA up to second in LMP2.

16:19 Holzer looked set to make a move further up the GTE Pro order but lost time in the final sector, presumably getting out of the way of a P2 car.

16:22 Yellows for debris down by the first Mulsanne chicane. Should be cleared quickly and easily.

16:22 The session was coming alive before the stoppage for Duval's crash, but things have been quieter on the timing screens since we restarted. The leading #8 Toyota is lapping in the 3m27s, while the #7 car is doing 3m25s and the Audis have been in and out of the pits.

16:23 There we go, debris removed.

16:25 The pace-setting #8 Toyota is in the garage and the front bodywork is quickly removed as the mechanics get to work.

16:25 Two personal bests in a row for Gavin closes the gap to the leading Ferraris, Porsches and #99 Aston but the top Corvette remains sixth.

16:28 @Toyota_Hybrid: Talking after first run @Steph_Sarrazin: "We started with a long run. We are happy with the car; it's going well so far."

16:30 The #50 Morgan-Judd is touring slowly with a left-rear puncture. Ricky Taylor has been able to nurse the Larbre-run car back to the pits.

16:32 Nakajima makes it a Toyota one-two by going second with a 3m24.291s. That leaves the #7 car 0.639s down on its fellow TS040.

16:34 Lamy jumps to third in GTE Am on a 3m59.811s and the #98 Aston Martin Vantage driver is already on another personal best lap.

16:38 Race organisers have released a statement about Duval's accident. It confirms that the Audi driver was conscious when he was extracted from the car, and it adds "his condition is encouraging".

16:38 Seth Neiman in the #66 JMW Ferrari has a near miss with the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid as both enter their respective pit boxes. Bit of a bizarre one, but no harm done.

16:39 Oliver Jarvis moves the #3 Audi briefly into fourth place at the expense of the #2 R18, but Marcel Fassler responds with his next lap to re-take the position with a 3m24.840s.

16:40 Klaus Bachler propels the #88 Proton Porsche to top spot in GTE Am. His 3m59.461s is 0.038s faster than Bird's best in the #81 AF Ferrari.

16:40 Nakajima crosses the line with a new overall best time through the final sector, but his laptime of 3m25.8s is 1.6s shy of the #7 car's best at this stage, and it remains second.

16:42 Stefan Mucke's improving in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage, which is having a very quiet session near the foot of the GTE Pro times.

Mucke's just done a 4m00.236s, that car's fastest lap so far, but it is almost 3s off the pace-setting #51 AF Ferrari.

16:45 The #41 Greaves Zytek has come to a stop off the track towards the end of the Porsche curves. The car is reasonably out of the way so the yellow flag period is short-lived.

16:48 Holzer sets two personal best sectors again and though he loses time again in the final part of the lap he does shave a fraction off the #92 Manthey Porsche's best – down to a 3m58.728s now.

16:48 Beche finds a chunk of time in the Rebellion. His 3m31.2s gets the leading R-One down to 7.5s off the pace of the leading Toyota, and just 2.6s adrift of the #14 Porsche in P7.

Talking of the #14 car, Dumas has just handed it over to Jani.

16:50 Fabulous effort from Nicki Thiim in the #95 Aston Martin Vantage to go comfortably quickest in GTE Am on a 3m58.672s, a time that's bested only by three of the GTE Pro entries.

16:51 Bernhard improves the #20 Porsche's best with a 3m26.976s. He stays sixth, though, and needs to find another 1.9s to get on terms with the slowest of the Audis at this stage.

16:51 This lap looks even better by Thiim – while fellow GTE Am Vantage driver Christoffer Nygaard also improves in the #98 car. The Astons are improving with just over an hour remaining.

16:54 Another Aston on the move is the #97 car currently pedalled by Darren Turner...who goes quickest! Brilliant first and final sector and the GTE Pro benchmark is now a 3m57.086s.

MacDowall also improves the fastest time of the #99 car, which is now sixth fastest in class. Jordan Taylor sets the quickest lap for the #73 Corvette but remains bottom of the Pro ladder, with 2.4s covering the nine cars now.

16:54 Bernhard improves again in the #20 Porsche. He stays sixth overall but lowers his time to a 2m26.705s

16:55 Thiim is flying – he usurps Turner's GT-best effort and puts the Am-entered #95 Vantage top of the tree full stop on a 3m57.015s.

Thiim's hardly an Am, though, being the Porsche Supercup champion.

16:56 Dyson improves his time in the #42 Greaves Zytek. But still down in 15th in LMP2.

17:00 Bernhard improves again, setting a 3m26.602s. He remains sixth fastest.

17:01 There's an hour left on the clock, and this is the order:

LMP1:

1. #8 Toyota 3m23.652s
2. #7 Toyota +0.639s
3. #1 Audi +1.077s
4. #2 Audi +1.188s
5. #3 Audi +1.490s

LMP2:

1. #35 OAK Ligier-Nissan 3m40.611s
2. #48 Murphy ORECA-Nissan +0.126s
3. #37 SMP ORECA-Nissan +0.462s

GTE Pro:

1. #97 Aston Martin 3m57.086s
2. #51 AF Corse Ferrari
3. #71 AF Corse Ferrari

GTE Am:

1. #95 Aston Martin 3m57.015s
2. #88 Proton Porsche
3. #81 AF Corse Ferrari

17:02 Fassler has split the Toyotas, banging in a 3m23.976s lap to go second fastest. That's 0.324s off the #8 Toyota.

17:02 ...Thus rendering our update immediately out of date! For LMP1 anyway. Darn it, Fassler.

17:02 And the #14 Porsche has now improved with Jani at the wheel. He's still seventh, a couple of seconds slower than the sister car.

17:04 Lots of personal bests being set among the GT fraternity. Jordan Taylor's hauled the #73 Corvette up to fourth in GTE Pro, while the #74 has improved time if not position in the hands of Tommy Milner.

Nygaard, meanwhile, jumps to second in GTE Am in the #98 Aston.

17:06 Kirill Ladygin spun the #37 SMP Racing-run ORECA-Nissan 03R at Indianapolis. He has rejoined.

17:07 The Team Taisan Ferrari 458 has a moment as it skates across the gravel, but rejoins.

17:08 Davidson is fastest in the #8 Toyota, which is currently being driven by Buemi. He's very happy with the start Toyota has made today.

"It's good to start where we finished 2 weeks ago," said Davidson. "We have the same balance so I'm pretty happy how the car feels."

17:08 Patrick Long moves the Dempsey Porsche into second in GTE-Am and in amongst the Pro cars as well with a 3m58.512s.

17:11 How quickly times change in practice. About half an hour ago, the GT classes were being dominated by Ferrari 458 Italias. Now, the Aston Martin Vantages are flexing their muscles.

The GT battles are always ferociously competitive, not just at Le Mans, but in general. All signs thus far point to a similar story this weekend.

17:11 We haven't seen many improvements in LMP2 of late. The #35 OAK Racing Ligier-Nissan is currently fastest courtesy of Jann Mardenborough. Berthon is second fastest in the Murphy Prototypes ORECA.

17:12 Long takes another tenth off the Dempsey Porsche's best lap, but it's some way off the class-leading #95 Aston...1.4s in fact.

17:15 The #74 Corvette, second from bottom in the GTE Pro times, has slowed to a halt on the entry to the Porsche Curves.

Of equal concern is a message suggesting the #97 Aston is losing fluid at the rear.

17:20 As Tommy Milner remains stranded on the right-hand side of the entrance to the Porsche Curves, Jordan Taylor shaves more time off the #73 Corvette's best to go third fastest.

Also improving is the #81 AF Ferrari in the hands of Michele Rugolo, third in class.

17:21 Long goes quicker in the Proton Porsche, improving to a 3m58.167s to be precise. He's also on another personal best lap.

17:26 SCOTT MITCHELL: The GTE cars are pushing on from the Test Day two weeks ago. The best Pro time then was a 3m57.260s from the #92 Manthey Porsche, but Darren Turner's gone two-tenths quicker than that in the first practice session. His 3m57.086s is 3.5s better than the #97 Aston Martin, which had struggled with straightline speed, managed in testing...

The best of the Ams is Nicki Thiim, though to say it's a surprise does him a huge disservice, being the Porsche Supercup champion. Nonetheless, his class-topping 3m57.015s is almost 0.4s quicker than the #90 8 Star Ferrari 458 Italia's best from the Test Day.

17:27 No significant improvements in any of the classes as we near the proverbial klaxon to signal the final 30 minutes of the first practice session for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours.

17:28 Jani improves again in the #14 Porsche, setting a 3m27.374s.

17:29 Movement from Gianmaria Bruni, who thrusts the #51 AF Ferrari back to top spot in GTE Pro. He's 0.013s slower than Thiim, but shades Turner's class best by 0.058s.

17:30 Richard Lietz has also lowered the best time of the #92 Manthey Porsche, but not by enough to move it up from sixth in class.

17:30 A couple of improvements down the order in LMP2. Adderly Fong has set a 3m44.738s in the #33 OAK Racing Ligier-HPD and is 13th. Christian Klien has done a 3m44.911s in the #43 Morand Racing Morgan-Judd and is two places behind Fong.

17:32 And Klien improves again to a 3m43.725s. He is now 13th in LMP2.

17:33 Session stopped.

17:34 The #67 Imsa Porsche, driven by Erik Maris, has stopped at the first Mulsanne chicane.

17:34 The message from race control suggests contact has played a part in that incident. Cars are now making their way back to the pitlane.

17:36 There's a recovery vehicle on the scene dealing with the Porsche. Difficult to tell the extent of the damage. More info when we get it.

17:41 Maris and Palttala, driver of the #75 Prospeed Porsche, have been called to race control.

17:42 WIth 17 minutes still to run (and the red flags still out) we have cars queueing at the end of the pitlane.

17:44 Confirmed session start for 1945 local time (two minutes).

17:45 Session restarted.

17:48 Yellow flags already out at the second Mulsanne chicane.

17:49 The #90 8 Star Ferrari of Montecalvo was the cause of that, there's debris down and drivers are being told to keep left.

17:49 Another red flag. Ten minutes left on the clock.

17:51 Montecalvo's AF-run 8 Star 458 Italia is being recovered at the second chicane. Not sure if he's hit the tyres, but he's obviously got stuck.

17:53 The session will not resume.

17:53 The #24 Sebastien Loeb Racing ORECA-Nissan has just returned to the pits with some damage to the rear end.

Everyone else is filtering back to their respective garages.

18:05 So, at the end of the first four-hour session, these are the leading times:

LMP1:
1. #8 Toyota 3m23.652s
2. #2 Audi +0.324s
3. #7 Toyota +0.639s
4. #1 Audi +1.077s
5. #3 Audi +1.177s

LMP2:
1. #35 OAK Ligier-Nissan 3m40.611s

GTE Pro:
1. #51 AF Corse Ferrari 3m57.028ss

GTE Am:
1. #95 Aston Martin 3m57.015s

18:21 Here's our comprehensive report of the first practice session for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours:

Toyota fastest as Audi's Duval crashes heavily

18:28 AUTOSPORT Live is going to take a short break now, please join us again in just over an hour for the two-hour evening qualifying session.

We can confirm that dusk is approaching in La Sarthe, because AUTOSPORT.com Editor GLENN FREEMAN is currently being blinded by the setting sun. See you shortly.

19:40 Hello again, we return with news of Loic Duval and the #1 Audi R18.

"Examinations in the hospital of Le Mans have confirmed that Loic Duval is unhurt apart from two grazes to the skin," tweeted Audi Sport. "Audi Sport Team Joest tries everything to have the car ready and running in Thursday’s qualifying."

19:45 The #90 AF Corse-run 8Star Motorsports Ferrari needs some repair work after an off late in the free practice session. @8starmotor: "The damage to the @8starmotor Ferrari is mostly cosmetic and the car may make an appearance before the end of the current session."

19:47 The #74 Corvette will be participating in this qualifying session after stopping on track during free practice. The gearbox has been changed. @TommyMilner: "Lost drive in the last session. @CorvetteRacing crew already has it and other issues fixed. I'll be first in the car for the next session."

19:51 Dusk is here at the Circuit de la Sarthe, as evidence by this scenic snap AUTOSPORT grabbed on the way back from a hastily-devoured dinner.

It's the first qualifying session in 10 minutes, and we just couldn't be late for kick-off.

19:54 What's the deal with qualifying? Over to GTE Am racer Spencer Pumpelly...

"Here we go for practice 2. Each driver must do 5 laps at night so we are knocking that out first."

19:55 Remember, this two-hour session is just the first of three qualifying segments.

The second takes place tomorrow, from 1900 to 2100, with the final part running from 2200 to midnight.

All of that's French local time, just in case you hadn't clocked.

19:59 The air temperature is 24C and the track temperature 26C, with one minute to go before the first qualifying session kicks off.

19:59 During the break, AUTOSPORT indulged in the authentic Le Mans experience – walking around in busy crowds, complaining about the heat and grumbling over the price of a burger and chips.

Also, it noticed a lot of these Nissan signs floating around. It's been a long, long time since AUTOSPORT left at 3am to start today's journey, so the second thing on this list is something of an unattainable luxury.

20:00 The first part of qualifying is underway.

20:02 Yellow flag early in qualifying, at the Mulsanne chicane.

20:03 That was caused by the #62 GTE Am AF Corse Ferrari, which has spun and stopped.

Why you'd be pushing on an outlap at Le Mans is a tad confusing, unless of course Bachelier was helped off.

20:03 Here's who we have in the leading cars for the first runs in qualifying:

#2 Audi: Fassler
#3 Audi: Albuquerque
#7 Toyota: Wurz
#8 Toyota: Davidson
#14 Porsche: Jani
#20 Porsche: Bernhard

20:05 A car in the gravel at the first Mulsanne. It's the #70 Taisan Ferrari 458.

20:06 That's all cleared up and we're green again all round.

20:07 Wurz goes fastest on a 3m27.243s, with the second Toyota of Anthony Davidson three-quarters of a second slower.

20:08 Chatin goes fastest in LMP2 in the #36 Signatech Alpine ORECA

20:10 The #76 Imsa Performance Porsche has had contact and stopped at the Porsche Curves.

20:10 Jani's on a quick one in the Porsche...

20:10 Albuquerque goes up to second on a 3m26.856s driving the #3 Audi

20:11 First batch of GTE times are in. Mucke is quickest in the #97 Aston Martin from Bruni in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and Antonio Garcia's #73 Corvette.

20:11 In GTE Am Bertolini's #72 SMP Ferrari leads Emmanuel Collard's #75 ProSpeed Porsche.

20:14 Flying times in GTE Pro from Mucke and his former team-mate Frederic Makowiecki (#92 Manthey Porsche). They lead the way on a 3m55.067s and 3m55.616s respectively.

20:14 The #8 Toyota, in the hands of Davidson, goes second on a 3m25.410s.

20:15 Cioci puts the #61 AF Ferrari top in GTE Am on a 3m56.919s, now ahead of Bertolini and Collard.

20:15 Patrick Long's just jumped ahead of Bertolini to put the Dempsey Porsche second in GTE Am.

20:15 Pla goes fastest in LMP2 in the #26 OAK Racing Morgan

20:17 So, after a busy first 17 minutes of qualifying, the order is:

1 #14 Porsche (Jani), 3m23.928s
2 #8 Toyota (Davidson) +1.482s
3 #3 Audi (Albuquerque) +2.571s
4 #2 Audi (Fassler) +2.859s

20:19 Salo has been reported for speeding in the pitlane in the '27 SMP ORECA

20:19 Bertolini restores the SMP Ferrari to top spot in GTE Am on a 3m56.787s.

20:19 GP2 champion Leimer has had an off-track moment in the Rebellion.

20:20 Yellow flag at the exit of second Mulsanne chicane.

20:20 Hartley goes fastest in the #20 Porsche on a 3m23.157s. So it's now a Porsche one-two with Jani's sister car second, 0.771s slower

20:20 The #60 AF Ferrari has stopped on the left-hand side of the track on the run from the second chicane down to Mulsanne.

20:23 No more issues on the exit of the second Mulsanne chicane, that appears to be all clear.

Meanwhile, Bruni's leapt to top spot in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari – a 3m54.754s for the Italian.

20:25 Leimer improves to a 3m33.117s in the #13 Rebellion, which lies seventh.

20:28 Wurz improves to third in the #7 Toyota, 2.156s off fastest man Hartley in the #20 Porsche

20:29 Yellow flags on the entry to Indianapolis. Meanwhile, in GTE Pro, Bruno Senna has taken over from Mucke in the #97 Aston.

20:30 Half an hour into the first qualifying session for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours, here's how the key positions are looking:

1 #20 Porsche
2 #14 Porsche +0.771s
3 #7 Toyota +2.156s
4 #8 Toyota +2.263s
5 #2 Audi +3.321s
6 #3 Audi +3.288s

20:30 Looks like the #29 Pegasus Racing Morgan is responsible for the yellow.

20:31 Session stopped.

20:31 It's the #37 AF-run SMP ORECA driven by Minassian, which has made contact with the rail at the entry to the Porsche Curves.

20:35 Quick look at the GTE Pro situation:

1 #51 AF Corse Ferrari 3m54.754s
2 #97 Aston Martin
3 #92 Manthey Porsche
4 #73 Corvette
5 #91 Manthey Porsche

And GTE Am:

1 #82 SMP Ferrari 3m56.787s
2 #61 AF Corse Ferrari
3 #77 Dempsey Porsche
4 #88 Proton Porsche
5 #75 ProSpeed Porsche

20:42 That's quite amusing. A car's on a recovery vehicle on its way back to the paddock...but it's actually the #76 Imsa Porsche from an earlier incident.

The Minassian car is being dealt with too.

20:44 While things are quiet, it seems a good chance to let you know that you can be a part of our live Le Mans coverage this year by Tweeting using #autosport.

Got a question for our team at the race? Or just want to tell us what you think about what's been going on so far? How about taking a guess at what the pole position time will be, and/or which car will take it?

20:45 Estimated restart at 2250, so in five minutes.

20:47 It seems the JMW Motorsport crew (which runs the #66 Ferrari 458) is eager to fill the gap this stoppage has caused, randomly tweeting: "So how is everyone this evening?"

20:48 The AUTOSPORT Live team has had a punt at what the fastest time in this session will be.

Gary Watkins: 3m20.9s
Glenn Freeman: 3m22.0s
Scott Mitchell: 3m21.5s
Edd Straw: 3m21.2s

20:50 The session is back underway.

20:51 Good news - the Nissan ZEOD RC is back on track for the first time since its gearbox failure early in free practice. Ordonez at the wheel.

20:54 Here are the drivers in the frontrunning GTE cars: Fisichella (#51 AF Corse Ferrari); Senna (#97 Aston); Holzer (#92 Porsche); Basov (#72 SMP Ferrari)*; Perez Companc (#61 AF Corse Ferrari)*.

*GTE Am.

20:57 In the frontrunning cars right now, we have:

#2 Audi: Lotterer
#3 Audi: Jarvis
#7 Toyota: Sarrazin
#8 Toyota: Lapierre
#14 Porsche: Lieb
#20 Porsch: Webber

20:59 The Taisan Ferrari is off again, Ehret at the wheel this time. It's in the gravel at Mulsanne corner.

21:00 Another off, this time at the first Mulsanne chicane. It's the #95 GTE Am Aston with David Heinemeier Hansson driving.

21:02 The #7 Toyota of Sarrazin has stopped at Dunlop.

21:02 Patrick Long's a satisfied Dempsey Porsche GTE Am driver right now.

"Hello from Le Mans! Logged my 5 laps at the start of this first quali session. Happy with the balance of the car. P3 at moment"

21:03 Replays show that Sarrazin had some kind of problem and pulled off the track.

21:03 There have been very few improvements since the session restarted, probably not helped by yellow flags. One man to improve though is Fernando Rees, who has moved the #99 Aston up to sixth in GTE Pro.

21:04 Gary Watkins reports that the Toyota has suffered a suspected loss of drive.

21:04 Session stopped.

21:05 We might have cursed Rees there...he's now stopped halfway through the Porsche Curves.

21:05 The Toyota is being attended to by marshals.

21:06 There's a tractor now.

21:08 The Toyota is now being lifted.

21:10 Unusually, Sarrazin is still in the Toyota as it is being lifted.

21:12 Here's a recap of the order out front, where it's still a Porsche one-two so far in qualifying: #20 Porsche; #14 Porsche; #7 Toyota; #8 Toyota; #2 Audi; #3 Audi.

21:15 Not a major drama for Rees, as AMR confirms on Twitter.

"Incident for our #99 Vantage GTE. We've spoken to @Fernando_Rees and he is fine. Car is being recovered."

21:20 Porsche confirms that when the session restarts, Bernhard will take over from Webber in the #20 car that is currently on provisional pole.

21:29 While we have this break, worth bringing to your attention the results of the Porsche Carrera Cup free practice session.

A stellar amalgamated French/GB grid of Porsches, predominantly the new 991-shaped 911s, is supporting the French enduro this year and some top young talent (and returning 1998 Le Mans winner Laurent Aiello) is among the mega 62-car offering.

GP2 race winner Tom Dillmann is among them, but it was Porsche scholar Earl Bamber and young Briton Ben Barker who led the way, with the New Zealander's 4m05.004s beating Barker by 0.421s.

This was AUTOSPORT's view earlier as the field assembled in the pitlane prior to the session starting.

21:29 As well as the seven manufacturer cars in the LMP1 class, there are also a couple of the well turned-out Rebellion-Toyota R-Ones. The faster of the two, driven by GP2 champion Fabio Leimer, is seventh fastest, but 9.960s off Hartley's fastest time in the Porsche.

21:30 The session will not restart

21:32 We've just had a brief glimpse of the #99 Aston on the back of a recovery truck. It's suffered heavy damage to the left-hand side and the rear of the car, so that was clearly a big hit in the Porsche Curves.

21:33 Toyota is still waiting for its #7 car to be returned to the pits - Sarrazin's machine has been left behind the barriers at the Dunlop Chicane for now on the back of a truck.

21:37 So, with the first qualifying session not restarting, Porsche #20 is on provisional pole position thanks to Brendon Hartley's lap of 3m23.157s. Here are the leading times:

1 #20 Porsche (Hartley), 3m23.157s
2 #14 Porsche (Lieb), 3m23.928s
3 #7 Toyota (Wurz), 3m25.313s
4 #8 Toyota (Davidson), 3m25.410s
5 #2 Audi (Lotterer), 3m26.388s
6 #3 Audi (Albuquerque), 3m26.455s
7 #13 Rebellion (Leimer), 3m33.117s
8 #12 Rebellion (Heidfeld), 3m34.922s

21:38 In LMP2, the #26 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan LMP2 is on provisional pole courtesy of Pla's lap of 3m38.843s.

21:40 In GTE Pro, fastest was the #51 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Bruni.

21:40 Race control tells the teams that "until further notice all cars [are] under parc ferme conditions".

21:41 And in GTE Am, provisional pole has been taken by the #72 SMP Ferrari driven by Bertolini.

21:44 It has been a frustrating day with so many red flags, as Le Mans newcomer Sam Bird has found out. @sambirdracing: "Red flag ... Followed by red flag .. Followed by red flag. I didn't do a lap :( Oh well , it'll be tomorrow that counts, And I'm feeling fast!"

21:50 Barrier damage was the reason for the early stoppage tonight.

21:57 Six of the 55 cars have not set a qualifying time. The Nissan ZEOD RC, the #1 Audi, the #41 Greaves Zytek, the #67 IMSA Porsche, the #76 IMSA Porsche and the #90 AF-run 8Star Motorsports Ferrari.

21:58 Porsche reveals that its #14 car suffered a hydraulic leak in that session.

22:05 A difficult day for the #74 GTE Pro Corvette, as Oliver Gavin explains. @olivergavin: "Tough day for us today. Transmission and other calibration issues meant it was hard to get meaningful running. Hoping for a better run tom[orrow]."

22:07 Some good news on Aston Martin driver Fernando Rees. @AMR_Official: "Just to confirm that Fernando has been checked by medics and is fine. He has a bruised ankle but is being well looked after."

22:14 That's it for AUTOSPORT Live's coverage of the first day of action for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours.

We'll leave you with our comprehensive qualifying report. Can Porsche hang on to pole after 15 years away? Or will Toyota, or Audi, fight back?

The second part of qualifying kicks off at 19:00 tomorrow. Join us from 18:30 onwards to find out the answers to those questions. See you then.

Hartley gives Porsche provisional pole



  OVERVIEW   
  CURRENT WEATHER
Clear skies High Temp: 25°C / 77°F
Track: Dry
  LIVE COVERAGE NAVIGATOR
Wednesday 11 Jun Start GMT
 Wednesday: Practice and qualifying 13:45
Thursday 12 Jun
 Thursday: final qualifying 16:45
Saturday 14 Jun
 The 82nd Le Mans 24 Hours 12:00
Haymarket