The GTE cars continue to provide both numbers and variety to the World Endurance Championship (WEC) grid. Whilst performance on Thursday saw plenty of running the PRO teams did not appear to chase outright pace, and in the wet FP2 session lap times were out to 2:32 at best.
On Friday FP3 the track had clearly improved and it was the Porsche RSR #91 that came away from the session fastest, though it may have been so marginal on fuel that it needed a helping hand back to its pit garage.
Everyone seems to have adjusted to the sight of the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE with its wide gaping mouth, and thankful it has now found both form and pace. The #97 came away from FP1 fastest and was matched in the wet FP2 session by its sister the #95 of Thiim and Sorensen. The conditions in FP2 are perhaps a little more representative of the expected raceday weather, so hopefully this bodes well for the Mello-Yello pair.
Ferrari continue to produce the most dynamic looking cars in a wonderful shade of Rosso Red. As ever the prancing horses are keeping their powder dry, but have moved up in the FP3 session, which concluded with Porsche fighting with Ford for practice honours followed by the #51 and #71 Ferrari 488 EVO GTEs.
There is much rumour and speculation with regards to the Ford GT works entries in WEC, could this be the team’s final 6-hour race before they initiate a customer led programme of global participation? Will they look to the proposed Hyper-car category and set their sights higher than a category victory at Le Mans? We live in hope of their continued participation but will be ever grateful that they made their return. The cars at Spa are still hugely competitive (as we should expect a well managed BoP category).
2019 FIA WEC 6h Spa Francorchamps 2019, Spa, Belgium. Photo © John D Stevens.
After troubles for the #82 BMW M* GTE stopping on track in FP2 and drawing a red flag, both cars have put in plenty of laps, though for outright pace, they still seem adrift from the top flight of the category. Rumours abound of their ongoing participation, and we can understand the executives in Munich becoming restless… Again we wait for further news and hope they keep the faith.
We thought GTE-AM deserved one of our sideways looks at it, hence engaged @theBPillar to provide some analysis of the FP1 session. It demonstrates how the -PRO and -AM drivers organise their time throughout the session. The fastest times typically set by the -PRO naturally, here the best of the best times focus on the start of the session, ensuring a suitable set-up is achieved, as well as time set. The car then appears to be handed over to the -AM driver for some familiarisation and orientation with it handed back to the -PRO driver toward the end.
One rule we have become familiar within Spa over the years is never to bet against the GTE-Am team in the #98 of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Matthais Lauda. They know their way round here this hallowed turf and and have repeatedly delivered, plus the first person we bumped into on arrival here was… Paul Dalla Lana… Which is always a Lucky Touch! Don’t say we didn’t tell you!