Torrential rain greeted the teams of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone, the conditions leading to a testing first practice that was brought to a halt twice during its 90 minute duration.
The first halt was a voluntary one as the rain falling from on high and the standing water already down created a cocktail that brought every team into the garage for shelter. The second was a red flag thrown by the organisers after Freddy Kremer – one of the few drivers to venture out once the rain slowed to just a heavy shower – spun into the barriers on the exit of Chapel.
That corner – the final element of the tightening sweeps that lead on to the Hanger Straight – proved to a popular spot for spins with several cars rotating relatively harmlessly throughout the session.
Lee Mowle was one to spin in the first half hour of the session in the Triple Eight Race Engineering BMW Z4, the British team running in the Pro-Am Cup class of the race for their home event. Another British team found more trouble at the same corner moments later when Stewart Leonard spun the #32 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Through he, like Mowle avoided any contact with walls or other cars the machine was pushed to a place of safety by marshals.
While Mowle and Leonard were finding troubles in the first half hour of the session Michael Caine in the Oman Racing Team Aston set a flying lap of 2:30.176 as he and Franck Perera in the Pro-Am Pro GT by Almeras Porsche swapped possession of the fastest time, Caine setting his lap in the Pro Cup car co-driven by Ahmad Al-Harthy and Stephen Jelley with one hour, 13 minutes remaining.
Not long afterwards the rain reached the critical point where risk of damage outweighed the point of continuing on track and the track fell silent for over 30 minutes before a handful of pathfinders returned to the track.
Jelley was one driver to go out on track, but he became another victim of Chapel, spinning the Aston and losing the rear wing in the process, through without any other visible damage to the rear of the #44 entry. Despite his off the car remained fastest in the session, the standing water on track preventing any lap times that would have endangered his time, or any of the top 20.
Nine minutes of the session remained after Kremer’s Kessel Racing Ferrari had been cleared from the track, though by the rain had grown heavier again, further limiting the running on offer to the teams.
Perera’s 1:30.715 remained second fastest, leading the Pro-Am contingent in the Porsche that will also be driven by Eric Dermont during the weekend. Stef Dusseldorp was third fastest in the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes ahead of the TDS Racing BMW and the sister SLS AMG GT3 from the HTP Motorsport stable.
Generation Bentley Racing led the trio of Continental GT3, Jody Fannin’s lap of 2:44.456 beating the two M-Sport examples. Ecurie Ecosse were 27th fastest, Triple Eight’s BMW 29th fastest. MP Motorsport AMR, Horse Power Racing and Beechdean AMR – all British teams with Vantage GT3 declined the opportunity to set a competitive lap time.
A second practice session, scheduled for 12:50pm later today offers the teams the chance of more track time before qualifying at 9am tomorrow (Sunday 25 May).