Porsche lapped quicker than both Audi and Toyota and ended free practice two with the fastest time, setting up what should be a thrilling qualifying session.
German driver Marc Lieb set the fastest time overall in the No.14 Porsche 919 Hybrid he shares with Romain Dumas and Neel Jani, his lap of 1:59.887 being the first to dip under the two-minute mark today and, in fact, faster than last year’s pole position-winning average. Toyota’s No.8 TS040 Hybrid was second in the hands of Davidson-Buemi-Lapierre, 0.7s in arrears, and just one tenth of a second further back was the No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Fässler-Tréluyer-Lotterer.
Rebellion Racing’s brand new Toyota-powered R-One cars continued to have teething troubles, particularly the No.13 of Belicchi-Kraihamer-Leimer which has been plagued by electronic problems which have prevented it from turning a full timed lap. The No.12 of Prost-Heidfeld-Beche turned a reasonable number of laps but less than its competitors.
While the track remained dry throughout, there were two red flag interruptions for incidents which befell LMP2 cars. Victor Shaitar exited the track at considerable speed at Turn 3 just over half way through the session but fortunately climbed unhurt from his No.37 SMP Racing ORECA 03 Nissan. Also unharmed – both car and driver Simon Dolan – was the No.38 JOTA Sport Zytek Nissan which stopped at the exit of T4 and had to be removed to safety under the red flag. The No.26 G-Drive Racing Morgan Nissan of Rusinov-Pla-Canal was quickest in the class on track with a fastest time of 2:08.673.
The No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 4548 Italia of Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni re-asserted itself at the head of the LMGTE categories, lapping in a best time of 2:18.913 with the No.71 sister car of Rigon-Calado in second place in the Pro class. However, an impressive performance from the three LMGTE Am cars – the Proton Porsche and Ferraris from 8Star Motorsports and AF Corse – between the two from the Italian team can’t be ignored. Klaus Bachler in the No.88 Porsche 911 RSR was the fastest of these three but the young German was chased hard by the two Italian cars, with only 0.053s separating them.
The LMGTE Pro and Am cars are first out on track for their 30-minute qualifying session at 19h20 this evening, with the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes following at 20h00. If it remains dry we can surely expect a number of qualifying records to be broken today!
World Endurance Championship (WEC)