The WEC official practice weekend at France’s Paul Ricard circuit are officially underway and already throwing up a few surprises.
The day started with zero-vis (for the Diesel Driver team!) overhead central France however by the time we reached the Mediterranean coast and the hills of Le Castellet, the weather was looking fabulous.
At the end of the first session, Audi, with the #2 R18 e-tron quattro were heading up the overall and LMP1 times with a 1.42.788 with Dumas in the #14 Porsche 919 Hybrid less than 2 tenths behind. The first Toyota was 4th (#7) with the #1 Audi over 2 seconds off the pace in 6th. Millenium Racing put in a 1.49.284 to take the top LMP2 spot. In LM GTE, Porsche took top spot in the Pro class with the #92 911 RSR posting 1.58.080 and Ferrari took the honours in the Am with a 1.58.852 set by the 8 Star Motorsports #90.
With the track rubbering-in through the day, Porsche climbed to the top of the LMP1 table with the #20 919 of Bernhard, Webber & Hartley setting a 1.41.788. The #2 Audi set 1:42.073 to take second while Toyota remained consistent with a 4th at 1:42.356. In LMP2, Millennium Racing again topped the score sheets setting a 1:48.970 with Porsche and Ferrari both staying the top of their respective groups in LMGTE with a 1:58.041 3 and 1:58.507 respectively.
The teams then took a break and Friday’s third session was run almost entirely in the dark. Seven cars chose not to run at all, and many of the others completed only a limited number of laps. At the close of play it was Brendon Hartley in the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid who claimed the fastest lap of the day with a time of 1:41.289, ahead of its sister LMP1-H the No.14. In LMP2 Shinji Nakano again set the pace, his lap of 1:49.246 in the Millenium Racing ORECA 03 Nissan giving the team a clean sweep of the day’s top spots. In LM GTE, the #71 AF Corse Ferrari F458 took the top spot in the Pro category from Porsche with a 1:58.986 while in the Am the #88 Proton Competition 911 RSR topped the sheets with a 1:58.662.