Image Credit: audi-motorsport.info
Following the wash-out that was a proper Spa Thursday, the weather and track conditions for Free Practice Three were dry, low wind, with a warming humid air about, perfect for rubbering the track back in, and for some good straight-line running.
The LMP1 battle picked up where Silverstone left off with a battle at the top of the times between Audi #7 and newcomer / current F1 pilot Nico Hulkenberg in the #19 Porsche. Andre Lotterer took top honours on the final of 22-laps with a 1:57.368, just 11/hundreths ahead of Hulkenberg. The #18 followed its sister 919 in third almost half-a-second back, both Porsche 919s completed 25-laps a piece, which was the highest in its class. This all bodes well for Qualifying later, which of course is based on driver averages with tyre usage being key over the laps run in that session.
As we have come to learn this year, the Toyota TS040 has made smaller gains over the winter, with both running very similar times, 59.6 & 59.8 for the #2 & #1 respectively. We should not be surprised, there was a lot of work to be done on the World Champions car after yesterday unfortunate accident in the hanging mists late in Free Practice 1. They will be recovering as the meeting progresses, and never count the Toyota Team out when a little down.
It should be noted that the top-seven cars all not only broke the 2013 Lap record of Benoit Treluyer of 2.01:251 but all went sub 2 minutes! By comparison Nico Rosberg’s fastest F1 race lap of 2014 was a 1:50.511.
The LMP2 class continues to be led by #26 G-Drive of Roman Rusinov, chased by the new Oreca 05 of KCMG #47 with Matt Howson at the wheel, with ELMS guest and Le Mans Champions Jota Sport’s #Mighty38 third in class pedalled by Harry of Tincknell. 4-different LMP2 manufacturers filled the top 5 places, and all five were quicker round the lap than the still testing #4 ByKolles (LMP1).
GTE-Pro is proving to be a close affair with the #51 AF Corse of Toni Vilander & its sister #71 of James Calado sandwiching the #99 (Hanergy this weekend) Aston Martin of Fernando Rees. Clearly the 911 RSRs #91 & #92 have picked up some sand somewhere, but expect them to clear that out later for qualifying!
GTE-Am by no means least, is a return to days gone by with the #98 Aston Martin of Lamy leading the way from the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette of Paolo Ruberti, Khaled Al Qubaisi in the Abu-DhabiProton Racing #88 in third.
All is well set for a cracking Qualifying session which has been moved up an hour and locally now commences with the GTs at 1800 Friday. Tune in through the FIAWEC App or your Local TV Provider.