Allan McNish was the fastest man in the final free practice session ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session for the Six Hours of Silverstone, the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The Scot set the best time during the hour long session, lapping the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in 1:43.628. Again the session was one dominated by the two Audi’s present for the weekend, Tom Kristensen establishing the #2 car at the top of times relatively early on after Neel Jani had briefly led the session in the petrol-fuelled Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota.
After Marcel Fassler put the e-tron quattro fastest it was McNish – having taken over the #2 car from Kristensen – who pulled the fastest time down three times, finally going below both the 1:44 barrier and the 2011 pole position time in a single swoop with 15 minutes of the session remaining.
McNish’s session was not all good. In the minutes following his fastest lap he came across Olivier Beretta’s GTE Pro Ferrari at Village corner, the two making light contact as they both turned towards the same patch of apex, but again it proved the perils of racing around slower cars.
In the closing seconds of the session Beretta and Nicolas Lapierre also made contact, this time at Chapel and the Toyota driver aimed to slide past as they entered the Hanger Straight. Again, only minimal damage resulted, Beretta briefly having to take to the grass while Lapierre returned to the pits with puncture and damage to the rear wing of the TS030 Hybrid.
Toyota’s practice session began slowly, Kazuki Nakajima pitting after a single lap to begin a four minute stop over in the garage. That delay, while Fassler and Kristensen were getting the Audis up to speed left Nakajima and Lapierre (Alex Wurz did not drive in the session) with too much ground to catch up their best time 1.8 seconds slower than McNish’s time topper.
Alex Brundle was impressive for Greaves Motorsport the young driver setting the fastest time in LMP2. Brundle’s time (1:49.524) bucked the trend in the class this year, breaking away from the packed class to set the best time by more than a second over OAK Racing’s Bertrand Baguette. Behind the Belgian the LMP2 remained true to form, as Baguette and the seven following cars could all be covered by a single second.
Gimmi Bruni averted a shock result in GTE Pro, managing to take the best time in class away from JMW Motorsport and James Walker in the closing seconds to preserve AF Corse’s unbeaten record through all three of the practice sessions in class.
The Richard Lietz/Marc Lieb Team Felbermayr–Proton also had its time at the top of the class times, as did – in Stefan Mucke’s hands, early in the session, Aston Martin Racing’s lone representative in the Pro class, though they fell to fourth in class as others improved around them.
The #97’s final standing, 26th overall after a Darren Turner lap, put the Pro car ahead of the Aston Martin 1-2 in the GTE Am category, Jonny Adam leading the way in the #99, Stuart Hall’s best lap in the #98 three tenths slower.
The AF–Waltrip Ferrari, fastest in class in both sessions yesterday, led the way from most of the session after an early lap from Matt Griffin. However improvements in the second half of the session from both Vantage V8 pushed them down to third in class, though Marco Cioci’s time from the second practice session remains the fastest time in the class of the weekend so far.