Free practice session: Toyota top the timesheets
Toyota Gazoo Racing topped the timesheets during this afternoon’s free practice session as 62 cars took to the Le Mans track in preparation for the 2018-2019 FIA WEC Super Finale.
After four hours of free practice, the No. 7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID proved the car to beat, with SMP Racing and Rebellion Racing second and third respectively. Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kamui Kobayashi set a blisteringly quick time of 3:18.091, 1.840s ahead of the No. 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 car that was being driven by Stoffel Vandoorne when the Belgian clocked the second quickest time of the afternoon.
The session was red flagged after nearly two hours when the No. 99 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR crashed heavily into the barriers on the Mulsanne straight. American Tracy Krohn, who was driving at the time, was extracted from the car and was conscious and in good spirits but complaining of back pain so was taken to hospital for further checks as a precautionary measure.
Mixed weather conditions saw the teams able to test a variety of car set-ups, as well as both slick and wet tyres – which served as excellent preparation for the upcoming qualifying sessions which could see more rain fall on the Circuit des 24 Heures.
The twenty-strong LMP2 grid saw the No. 48 Idec Sport car clock the fastest time in the closing stages of free practice but second-quickest and fastest out of the seven WEC entries was the No. 31 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 – Gibson entry followed by the No. 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut in the Alpine A470 – Gibson. Third out of the WEC entries was No. 29 Racing Team Nederland’s Dallara P217 – Gibson.
Porsche lead LMGTE Pro
The No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR led the highly-competitive LMGTE Pro category for the majority of today’s free practice session, with Kevin Estre behind the wheel when the World Endurance GTE Manufacturers’ Champions set a time of 3:52.149 which could not be beaten. Ferrari AF Corse was best of the rest out of the WEC field in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, followed closely by Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK.
In LMGTE Am, the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR was quickest with a time of 3:55.304, 0.382s ahead of Spirit of Race in the Ferrari 488 GTE. Rounding out the top three was Aston Martin Racing’s No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage making it three different manufacturers topping the timesheets in LMGTE Am.
The first of three qualifying sessions will get underway later today at 22h00 local time. Drivers are able to use this two-hour session to complete both their mandatory night laps, as well as making a first claim for pole position in each of the four different categories.