OAK Racing’s LMP2 Morgan-Nissans will start the Six Hours of Silverstone second and fourth in class thanks to late laps from Alex Brundle and Martin Plowman.
The session was the first in a new format in which the grid is set by the average of four laps, split equally between two drivers in each car. The new 20-minute session was further complicated by a brief rain shower than dampened the Silverstone track just as the LMP cars left the pitlane.
Olivier Pla and Bertrand Baguette were the first men out in the #24 and #35 cars respectively. Both men struggled for pace early in the session, Pla initially lapping in 2:09.327 though in quickly improving conditions he took his fastest lap down to 2:00.079 before he handed over to 2012 LMP2 pole sitter Alex Brundle.
The Briton took full advantage of the improving conditions, immediately going faster than Pla managed, setting a fastest lap of 1:51.942 to help pull the car up to second in class, though Pla’s struggles made a challenge of pole position impossible, the class pole going to the #25 Delta-ADR with an average time nearly 2.5 seconds faster than the lead OAK car.
“I was one of the first on-track and encountered the trickiest of the conditions on my opening lap,” reflected Pla, who will drive with Brundle and David Heinemeier–Hansson in the race. “There was a drier line on my second run so I could push harder but, honestly, it was so difficult to find the limit. Alex also did a good job but there’s no doubt that the improving conditions really benefitted Delta-ADR. So with that in mind I’m very pleased with our second place. I think we’re in for a good race tomorrow.”
Baguette, replaced in the second half of the session by Plowman, similarly struggled for pace in the worst of the session’s conditions, with Plowman – just like Brundle – able to comfortably pull the car’s average down to 1:58.729 with two laps of 1:52. The #35 team, completed by Ricardo Gonzalez, will start the race fourth, directly behind their teammates.
“The combination of a new qualifying format and unpredictable weather made for a very difficult session,” said Baguette. “We had to switch to cut slicks just before the start and the guys did a good job to get everything ready quickly, because the new format means you cannot afford to lose time. Most of our running has been in the wet this weekend but I’m expecting a dry race so it’s difficult to predict how we will do. The car does seem quick though, so I’m hopeful.”
The third OAK Racing entry, with the all gentleman line-up of Jacques Nicolet and Jean–Marc Merlin will start from tenth in class.
theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will have full live coverage of the Six Hours of Silverstone, which is scheduled to begin at 12 noon on April 14.