Friday 6 May 2016

FIA WEC - 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps : Porsche dominates Spa qualifying & practice sessions

In a sunny Spa-Francorchamps, Porsche demolished the competition this afternoon in qualifying. 

Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard took pole position in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybid, with an average time of 1.55.793. The #2 Porsche of Neel Jani and Marc Lieb took second place, 0.797 seconds behind the fastest time. Toyota and Audi were battling it out for the second and third row on the grid, but with a substantial gap to both Porsches. 

Stéphane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi took third place, in their #6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, but no less than 1.905 seconds behind the polesitters. First Audi on the grid is the #8 of Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval, 1.923 seconds behind Hartley & Bernhard, followed by the second Toyota of Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima. The second Audi of Andre Lotter and Marcel Fassler completes the LMP1 Hybrid grid in sixth place.   

In the privateer LMP1 class, both Rebellions were faster than the ByKolles. The #13 fastest in class ahead of the #12. The LMP qualifying session was shortly red flagged after contact between the #34 ByKolles and the RGR LMP2 left some debris on the track at the Raidillon. 

LMP2 pole position was, as in Silverstone, for G-Drive Racing. René Rast and Roman Rusinov were fastest on track in their Oreca05/Nissan, half a second ahead of the #36 Signatech Alpine A460 driven by Nicolas Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes. A strong performance by the Manor guys again, putting the #45 of Richard Bradley and Roberto Merhi on third place. The #38 Gibson 015S of Simon Dolan and Giedo van der Garde took fourth, ahead of the second Manor Oreca05/Nissan. 

AF Corse and Ferrari are confirming their dominance of Silverstone, clearing out the front row in GTE-Pro. Second pole position for the #71 of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird, outpacing the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado.

After a BOP adjustment, the Aston Martins seem to be closer to Ferrari as last month, with the #97 of Fernando Rees/Richie Stanaway and Jonny Adam third on the grid, 0.343 seconds adrift from the fastest Ferrari. Both Fords complete the top 5 in the Pro class, the #66 ahead of the #67. The top 5 in GTE-Pro qualified within a second from eachother.

In GTE-Am, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda were quickest in their #98 Aston Martin Vantage V8. They beat the #83 Ferrari F458 of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Riu Aguas by 1.851 seconds. Third in the Am category is the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR of Khaled Al Qubaisi, David Henemeier Hansson and Patrick Long.
Qualifying results

Practice sessions

Porsche was fastest in the first and third practice session, while Toyota showed some good pace in the second one on Thursday afternoon.

In the first session, Hartley quickly set a 1.58.02 on the clocks, a time that wouldn't be bettered for the rest of the day. The second Porsche 919 RSR of Lieb/Dumas/Jani was half a second slower, the rest of the competition following at 1.4 seconds or more. Toyota claimed the third fastest time with the #6 TS050 Hybrid.

Extreme Speed Motorsport continued in their good form of Silverstone, the #31 Ligier JSP2/Nissan faster than the #26 G-Drive Oreca 05 and the #35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine A460. In GTE Aston Martin was outright fastest. The #97 in GTE-Pro, just ahead of the #98 Vantage Am entry which outpaced all other GTE's in both classes.

Toyota was fastest in second practice, although not able to outpace Hartleys top time from te first session. Sarrazin topped the timesheets in the #6 TS050 ahead of the #7 sister car of Nakajima. Both Porsches and the Audi #7 completed the top 5 in LMP1, 1.7 seconds adrift of the Toyota's. Manor was fastest in LMP2, the #44 Oreca05/Nissan of Richard Bradley 0.8 seconds faster than Giedo van der Garde in the Mighty 38 of G-Drive Racing. After a year on the sidelines, it seems like van der Garde didn't loose his sense of speed.

In the GTE class, Ferrari took the honours this time. James Calado was fastest in his #51 488, Rui Aguas in the 488 Am class AF Corse. The second practice session was red flagged, after the #50 Larbre Corvette lost fuel and went into the barriers with about 15 minutes to go.

The third and final practice on Friday morning was Porsches playground again. Timo Bernhard nailed it with a 1.56.465, leaving everyone else at least 1.6 seconds behind. The second 919 Hybrid was second ahead of the #6 Toyota and #7 Audi.

Both Alpines had a strong run in LMP2, but couldn't top Rene Rast's time in the #26 G-Drive. GTE-Pro was for Ferrari with both F488 GTE's on top ahead of the #97 Aston Martin. In GTE-Am it was the #50 Larbre competition who was fastest this time, before the KCMG Porsche 911.

Audi didn't have a trouble free run during practice this week. In the first session the #8 R18 suffered from a failure of the front axle drive train, keeping it in its garage for the whole second session. On Friday morning, the #8 hit trouble again after contact with the KCMG Porsche, damaging its bodywork.

Results FP 1
Results FP 2
Results FP3

Kristof Vermeulen.