Sunday 2 April 2017

FIA WEC 2017 - Monza Prologue Diary: Sunday morning

Sunday morning started even more grey and drizzly than yesterday but perked-up fairly quickly. Here are the notes from session four on the slowly drying Monza circuit.

There was sad news for fans of the ByKolles CLM #4 that made a brief appearance on Saturday night. The team declared on Sunday morning that they would not be able to participate. We suspect this is due to the ongoing problems with the rear wing they experienced in session 3.

The fourth session of the Prologue kicked off at 9:00. Bamber in Porsche #2 was first in the queue at pit exit when the lights turned green. Most teams seemed to be opting for intermediates. The track was mostly dry but the grass and Astroturf areas remained wet and drivers were warned to stay on the black stuff and apart from a very few minor exceptions they behaved themselves. Nakajima set off at a brisk pace in the #8 Toyota, setting an early time of 1:43.790 in the cool and 'mildly moist' conditions. He continued to improve with a lap of 1:41.104 at about 9:20 and 1:39.843 at 9:30, making him the first driver under 1:40 at that point. The next driver under 1:40 was Jani in Porsche #1 1:39.658. On a drying circuit Bamber then went quickest in the #2 Porsche at 9:39 with a lap of 1:39.536. then improved to 1:39.447 and thence to 1:38.701 at 9:43.

The half hour point hierarchy in LMP2 was the #24 CEFC Manor with the best time of 1:50.410 followed by the #36 and #35 Signatech Alpine Orecas. In GTE Pro it was the #95 Aston Martin at the top of the class followed by the Ford GTs #67 and #66. Only two GTE Am cars at set flying lap times in the first 30 minutes, the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche and #86 Gulf Racing Porsche.

During the following half hour of drying out and warming up, the top times improved dramatically with Jani the first under 1:38 then Davidson in Toyota #8 and Bamber in Porsche #2. By 9:58 Bamber had brought the target down to 1:34.910 then on the stroke of the 1 hour point he went under 1:34 with a lap of 1:33.807. The top 3 order in LMP2 remained relatively stable with just the Signatech Alpines #35 and #36 switching places.  All change however in GTE Pro at 1 hour with the #67 Ford GT fastest (1:49.962) from #51 AF Corse Ferrari and the sister Ford GT #66. 

In the following minutes the LMP1 cars gradually approached just 1 second off their Saturday dry pace. Jani in Porsche #1 was the first under 1:33 at 10:08 with a time of 1:32.942. He improved that to 1:32.560 at 10:19 but then Bamber in Porsche #2 reclaimed the top spot a couple of minutes later with a 1:32.510. Jani responded with a 1:32.494 at 10:24 then improved to 1:32.020 at 10:30.

At the 90 minute mark, it was the two Porsche #1 and #2 quickest from Toyota #8. At that stage the pace was matching the times seen in session 1 on Saturday. The #35 Signatech Alpine had taken charge of LMP2 from Vaillante Rebellion #13 second quickest and the Signatech Alpine #36 third. The #66 Ford GT held the best time in GTE Pro, followed by Porsche #92 and #91. In GTE Am at 10:30 still only the Dempsey-Proton Porsche #77 and #86 Gulf Racing Porsche #86 had set times. 

At 10:43 Jani in Porsche #1 was reported as going slowly at Ascari. He made his way back to the pit lane with what we suspect was a tyre problem. At any rate, Lotterer took over the #1 and rejoined at 10:51. By that time, all cars had been seen on circuit (not all with a flying lap) except of course for the unfortunate ByKolles #4 as mentioned above.

On the approach to the two hour mark, the #31 Vaillante Rebellion was in its pit garage with a suspected engine problem, and at 10:57 there was a very brief FCY for debris removal at Rettifilio (T1). At 11:00 the top positions in LMP1 were unchanged (#1,#2,#8,#7) but the Vaillante Rebellion #13 had claimed the fastest time in LMP2 from sister car #31 and #26 G-Drive. In GTE Pro Christensen put the #92 Porsche quickest followed by the Ford GT #67 and #68. In GTE Am Lamy set the fastest lap for the Aston Martin #98 followed by #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche and #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

At 11:09 Senna took the #31 Vaillante Rebellion back out after its short garage interlude. At 11:11 Christensen in Porsche #92 set a time of 1:47.545 keeping it at the top of the GTE Pro order. Molina in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari set the fastest time thus far for the weekend in GTE Am with a lap of 1:49.843 at 11:15. At 11:17 Rusinov promoted the #26 G-Drive to the top of LMP2 with a time of 1:36.456. At 11:20 Estre edged-out Christensen's time in the #92 Porsche by a few thousandths with a lap of 1:47.541 then improved that to 1:47.507 at 11:30.

As we went into the final 30 minutes of session 4, the order in LMP1 was unchanged (#1,#2,#8,#7) but in LMP2 as mentioned above, Rusinov put the #26 G-Drive ahead of the #13 Vaillante Rebellion and #28 TDS Racing Oreca. In GTE Pro #92 Porsche remained in charge thanks to Estre with the #67 Ford GT and sister Porsche #91 in 2nd and 3rd place respectively on the timing screens. In GTE Am the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari retained the top time thanks to Molina's sub 1:50 time earlier. The #86 Gulf Racing Porsche and #98 Aston Martin had set the second and third fastest Am times at that point.

At 11:41 Vaxiviere did a lap in 1:36.078 in the #28 TDS Racing Oreca propelling the car to the top of LMP2. The #36 Signatech Alpine (Dumas) and #71 AF Corse Ferrari (Rigon) both made short-cuts at T4/T5 in the closing minutes of the session but continued unharmed. 

At the chequered flag, the top LMP1 times remained as they had been for the previous hour with the Porsche #1 fastest from Porsche #2, Toyota #8 and #7. In LMP2 the time of Vaxiviere kept the #28 TDS Racing Oreca fastest in class from #26 G-Drive and #13 Vaillante Rebellion. In GTE Pro, as in LMP1, Porsche took charge with fastest times for #92 and #91, followed by the #67 Ford GT. In GTE Am, the order remained constant with the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari keeping the top time, followed by the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche and #98 Aston Martin.

Full timing and classification can be found HERE