Friday 14 July 2017

FIA WEC - 6 Hours of the Nürburgring: Friday FP1 and FP2

After some early morning light rain, just as we were arriving at the circuit the sun peeked through fluffy clouds and the chilly start turned into a fairly decent day. With a track temperature of 26.7C and air temperature 17.9C, the green flag for free practice 1 was at 11:35 local time for a scheduled 90 minute session which ended up being slightly curtailed.

On his out-lap Swiss driver Jonathan Hirschi in the CEFC Manor #24 was reported as going slowly at T12 and crept back into pits. Meanwhile Buemi set a time of 1:41.816 in the #8 Toyota on his second flying lap which remained quickest for the bulk of FP1. At 11:42 Bruno Senna recorded the quickest LMP2 time of 1:47.717 in the #31 Vaillante Rebellion which is quicker than the LMP2 pole in 2016 1:48.994. Davide Rigon in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE was fastest in the GTE Pro class with a 1:57.170. Matteo Cairoli took the honours in GTE Am with his #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche in 1:59.208.

By 12:00 All cars had set a time except for the #24 CEFC Manor Oreca which was still in its pit box. At 12:04 only 0.011 seconds separated Buemi in Toyota #8 from Hartley in Porsche #2. At 12:05 after almost 30 minutes in its box, the #24 Manor Oreca emerged again and did just one slow lap and returned to the pitlane with electrical gremlins. There was a brief full course yellow at 12:19 to sweep gravel off the track and the session was green again at 12:27. At 12:40 the #24 CEFC Manor rejoined again with Hirschi at the wheel and appeared to be back up to normal speed.

At 12:51, its Timo Bernhard who puts the Porsche #2 fastest overall with a time of 1:41.612. A few minutes later there was a spin for Canal in the #31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca at turn 5 in which Marvin Dienst in the #77 Porsche was involved (damaging his car on the front right corner). The incident brought out the red flag at 13:02, ending the session which was initially scheduled to end at 13:05. The damage to the #13 Oreca didn't look that bad at first, but due to radiator and body damage it didn't not take part in free practice 2. The car is expected to reappear tomorrow for free practice 3 and qualifying.

Brendon Hartley: "Went for a quali run at the beginning of FP1 and the car felt really good. It looked like Toyota did the same - but we topped the times"

In LM P1 Porsche #2 fastest with 1:41.612 from Toyota #8 & Porsche #1
In LM P2 Rebellion #31 fastest before incident with Porsche #77 of Dienst, G-Drive Oreca #26 2nd & #28 TDS  Oreca in 3rd
In GTE Pro Ferrari #71 fastest from #92 Porsche with #51 Ferrari in 3rd
In GTE Am #77 Porsche fastest before incident with #31 Rebellion with #54 Ferrari 2nd & #86 Porsche in 3rd
Only 6 laps completed for lone LMP1 privateer #4 ByKolles ENSO with best time of 1:49.012 in 11th overall 12:54

The green flag for free practice 2 was on time at 16:15 for the second 90 minute session. Within the first few laps Hartley in the Porsche 919 Hybrid #2 was fastest overall with a time of 1:38.663, already beating Audi's pole time from last year (1:39.444). Fred Makowiecki goes fastest in the GTE Pro class, steering his #91 Porsche round the Eiffel tracl in 1:56.244. The fastest time in class last year was 1:56.908. Pedro Lamygoes almost a second faster than last years top time in the GTE Am class, clocking a 1:58.390 in the #98 Aston Vantage, compared last years 1:59.200.

At 16:33 Ben Hanley puts in the fastest time of the day in LMP2 thus far in his #26 G-Drive Oreca with 1:47.188.  Meanwhile, Miguel Molina goes fastest in GTE Am with the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari in 1:57.592.

There was a 10 minute red flag at 17:02 when a German photographer entered an unauthorised area. The #24 Manor had a spin at Dunlop (T8) under red flag but this was not the reason for the stoppage. The rain arrived and got progressively heavier. The session was green again at 17:12 but with a wet circuit. By 17:26 the rain had stopped and the sun was out again. A few minutes after the green flag the DC Racing #37 (Brundle) spun at turn 14-15 (Veedol Chicane) and continued, and at 17:31 Porsche #1 was reported for speeding in pit lane. Tincknell in #67 Ford stopped briefly at T3 bringing out a local yellow flag but rejoined.

On a damp but drying track there were no more quick times in FP2 and the chequered flag was shown as scheduled at 17:45

LMP1 1st #2 Porsche with 1:38.663 from #1 Porsche & #8 Toyota
LMP2 1st #26 G-Drive Oreca with 1:47.188 from #13 Rebellion Oreca & #36 Signatech Alpine
FP2 GTE Pro 1st #91 Porsche with 1:56.244 from #95 Aston Martin & #51 AF Corse Ferrari
FP2 GTE Am 1st #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari with 1:57.592 from #61 Clearwater Ferrari & #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche

After the second practice session, Jonathan Hirschi was summoned to race direction, after overtaking the #66 Ford GT under red flag conditions, and causing contact between the two cars. The #24 CEFC Manor has been given a 7 (seven !!) minute stop & go penalty during the race on Sunday. On top of that Hirschi has got another 7 minute penalty above his head for the next three races if he commits another red flag infringement.

BoP for Nurburgring: The first round of automatic BoP has given Aston Martin a weight break and power increase, whilst the Ford gets heavier. The Vantage GTE receives a 20 kg weight reduction and a 0.1 mm larger restrictor. The Ford GT gains 20 kg. The new for 2017 GTE Pro algorithm does not take into account Le Mans.

Track action resumes on Saturday morning at 09.45h for the third and final practice session. Qualifying is set in the afternoon.

Results Free Practice 1
Results Free Practice 2

Text: Dave Davies/Kristof Vermeulen
Pictures: Kristof Vermeulen