Saturday 1 April 2017

FIA WEC 2017 - Monza Prologue Diary: Saturday Afternoon

Here is the second batch of musings from Monza. Tony says I should give a nod to Jox Jottings by calling it Dave's Droppings but that sounds a bit unsanitary.

The showers we were promised had not turned up when the green flag came out for session two. There was less of a queue at pit exit at the start of the session than earlier and the timing screen took a while to fill up with times. It was not all quiet though. Conway took advantage of the lack of traffic to set two quick times (1.31.570 and 1.31.332) in the opening minutes in Toyota #7, eclipsing the fastest time of the morning set by Jani in the Porsche #1.

Gonzalez beached the #24 Manor at Rettifilio (T1) requiring extraction and a full course yellow (FCY) at 14:24. By 14:30 the car had been craned away and track was green again. The Toyota #7 had remained on top at the half hour point, followed by sister car #8 Toyota and #1 Porsche. In LMP2 the TDS Racing #28 was quickest followed by #36 Alpine and #13 Vaillante Rebellion. In GTE Pro it was #92 Porsche making an appearance at the top of the table followed by the #91 Porsche and #66 Ford GT. In Am the Dempsey Proton Racing #77 was quickest at that point, followed by #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari and #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

By 14:50 it was just beginning to cloud over again with patchy sunshine, however none of the anticipated showers had turned up. All cars had set a time in session 2 apart from the #4 ByKolles CLM which was still resting in pieces in the ByKolles box. Just before the one hour mark, Lotterer in the #1 Porsche split the two Toyotas with a time of 1:32.211. The time set by Conway (1:31.332) in Toyota #7 still stood fastest overall with the #8 Toyota third. In LMP2 the #26 G-Drive had taken top spot with #36 Alpine second and #13 Vaillante Rebellion. No change in GTE Pro (#92,#91,#66) and in GTE Am the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari had been propelled from third to quickest in class, ahead of the #98 Aston Martin and #86 Gulf Racing Porsche.

Just after the one hour point, Matteo Cairoli put in a 1:50.180 to take the Dempsey Proton Racing #77 Porsche into first position in the GTE Am times. Tony took a wander down to the ByKolles box again at about 15:15 to see how they were doing. The car was still in bits and there didn't seem much to suggest they were working on it with a sense of urgency.

At 15:29 the #7 Toyota made took the short cut at Rettifilio (T1-T2) but continued with no harm evident. No change in position at the top of the screen (#7,#1,#8) at that stage and #26 G-Drive remained at the head of LMP2 from #37 Jackie Chan DC racing and #28 TDS Racing. #92 Porsche retained the top of the GTE Pro times from #66 Ford and #91 Porsche. The time set by Matteo Cairoli kept the #77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche at the top of GTE Am followed by #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari and #98 Aston Martin.

At 15:35 Kevin Estre parked the #92 Porsche in the gravel at Ascari which brought on a full course yellow (FCY) followed by a red flag a few minutes later. The car was extracted and made it back to pit lane under its own power. We were back to green flag condition at 15:48. There appeared to be a prototype stopped on the track just downstream of Ascari as the Porsche was extracted but we can't be sure who it was, as they got going again relatively quickly.

With one hour remaining the top three overall was still Porsche #1 as the meat in a Toyota sandwich, #7 - #1 - #8 with the #4 ByKolles still yet to set a time. The #26 G-Drive was demoted to second fastest in LMP2 by the #36 Alpine with the Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 third. No change in GTE Pro at that point (#92,#66,#91) and #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche remained in charge of GTE Am with #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari second and #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari third.

With 30 minutes remaining in the session, we were still yet to see any rain, and it looked like we could probably get away with a dry day of testing. The top three order in LMP1, LMP2 , GTE Pro and Am had not changed in the previous half hour. Despite retaining the second fastest time, the #26 G-Drive had feverish work being done in the engine bay at 16:35 although Tony pointed out that the work was being done in the pit lane rather than the box so was likely to fall into the category of 'minor adjustments'. They continued to tinker and set the car off for a lap then before bringing it in again for more tweaking.

At 16:44 the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche in the hands of Marvin Dienst, shredded a tyre and was reported as going slowly at Ascari. The car limped back to the pit lane and was pushed into its box. At 16:58 Petrov in the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca had a spin at the exit of Rettifilio (T2) and continued with no damage evident.

Just as he took the chequered flag at 17:00, Nakajima improved the #8 Toyota to 2nd fastest with a lap of 1:32.062, so at the end of the session it was #7 Toyota from #8 Toyota, Porsche #2 and Porsche #1. In LMP2, the #36 Alpine held the fastest time. There was also a late improvement for #24 CEFC Manor TDS car, putting it second in class ahead of the #26 G-Drive. In GTE Pro, there were no last minute fireworks and the order remained the same with the #92 Porsche quickest ahead of the #66 Ford and #91 Porsche. In GTE Am it was Barker who put in a time of 1:50.035 in the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche to propel it to quickest in class #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche and #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari. Despite the gathering grey clouds towards the end, the session was dry.

One of the ByKolles mechanics (possibly Phil) was seen emerging briefly, groundhog style, from his pit garage. We don't know if he saw his shadow or not so we are uncertain if the prognostication is for the #4 to take part in the evening session or not.

Full timing results are HERE