Black Falcon Merc Leads Second Practice at Silverstone

by James Broomhead
Andreas Simonsen got the best of a drying track at the end of the session (CreditL Will Belcher Photography)

Andreas Simonsen, driving the #19 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 was the fastest an in the second practice session of the Silverstone weekend for the Blancpain Endurance Series teams.

A drying track throughout the 90-minute meant that Simonsen’s fastest time (2:03.537) was over 25 seconds faster than the lap Michael Caine has topped the opening session with. It also meant that end of the session was a breathless affair with times improving right up the fall of the checkered flag.

Simonsen set his lap in the Merc he shares with Hubert Haupt and Abdulaziz Al Faisal with only a few minutes of the session, bumping TDS Racing’s Nicky Catsburg from the top spot in the process. The closest challengers to Simonsen’s time were the pair of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 LMS ultra.

Cesar Ramos was second fastest and looked capable of improving on his final lap until he proved that the track – though drier that at any other time today – was still slippery as he ran out room around Brooklands. Christopher Mies, in the sister Audi meanwhile, moved ahead of Ramos into second fastest with a lap of 2:03.688 to complete his session in the #3 car also driven by James Nash and Frank Stippler.

The pair of TDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3 completed the top five, the Pro Am Cup class #10 of Nicolas Armindo ahead of the Catsburg piloted #12, Armindo topping the category in the process in the car he shares with Benjamin Lariche and Eric Clement.

The ART Grand Prix McLaren MP4-12C sandwiched the Pro GT by Almeras Porsche in sixth, seventh and eighth. The Generation Bentley Racing and #11 Kessel Racing teams completed the top ten.

The top ten for the Bentley team with Jody Fannin supplying the lap of 2:04.336 was the final product of a session in which British team had starred. They came to the fore as the conditions breached the cross-over point where slick tyres were the better choice. Daniel Lloyd was one of the first out on slicks in the Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 and used the choice of rubber to move to the top of the times, his lap of 2:09.456 giving him an advantage of over four seconds at the time, though others were able to overhaul him in time, the car eventually ending the session in 13th place.

Among those to join him at the top were Joe Osborne, completing the MP Motorsport AMR team alongside regulars Mark Poole and Richard Abra, Alex Buncombe in the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN #80 GT-R and practice one topper Michael Caine who briefly put the Oman Racing Team Aston fastest once again as times tumbled downwards despite the track remaining damp in places – notably on the approach to Stowe where a miniature river flowing from right to left across the trap caught out several drivers once the move to slicks had been completed.

Another British star of the session was Andy Schulz who had the Gentlemens Trophy class Horse Power Racing Aston as high as fifth. Though late improvements dropped his best time of 2:06.147 down to 20th he remained the fastest man in his class. He finished one spot behind the better of the two M-Sport Bentleys and just ahead of the Oman Racing Team and MP Motorsport AMR Astons that had featured prominently earlier their final position a testament to the pace there was to be found in the final stages of the session.

The #26 Sainteloc Racing Audi – another to feature at the top of times during the session ended the session eleventh fastest. Stephane Ortelli has been involved in one of the stranger incidents during the session when he ran though the gravel trap at the end of the Vale into the pit entrance for the Wing paddock – not is use this weekend. After trying to turn the car around to return to the track Ortelli opted for a voluntary drive through of the empty pitlane.

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