Audi Sport Team Joest teams topped both of the Friday practice sessions as the FIA World Endurance Championship season began at Silverstone.
The best time of the day came in the second of the day’s 90 minute sessions when Benoit Treluyer took the #7 e-tron quattro around the Grand Prix circuit in 1:41.526. The Frenchman, who leads Audi’s charge in 2015 alongside Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer was three tenths of a second faster than Oliver Jarvis, who vied for the top time in his home WEC event in the #8 Audi co-driven by Loic Duval and Lucas di Grassi.
It was the Brazilian who set the best time in the morning’s session (1:42.121). That time was only just faster than the #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid as the top five cars – both Audis, both Porsches and the #2 Toyota TS040 – clustered into just six tenths of a second.
A sprinkling of rain made any improvement during the second half of the first session impossible, so it was that the afternoon’s running happened under by far the best track conditions allowing the top teams to revise the target time for the weekend.
Both quattros made the most of the opportunity, as did the #17 Porsche – Timo Bernhard’s lap half a second slower than the ultimate pace.
The Toyota’s, on the other hand, were slower in the second session, the reigning champions struggling somewhat with their revised car.
Team ByKolles, the lone privateer LMP1 team at Silverstone in the absence of Rebellion Racing were similarly down on pace. Their best time, courtesy of Tonio Liuzzi, was slower than much of an LMP2 field that was dominated by G-Drive Racing.
On both occasions it was the Russian team’s #28 Ligier-Nissan that led the class. Gustavo Yacaman set the pace in the morning (1:50.213) before former British F3 runner Luis ‘Pipo’ Derani improved to a 1:48.676 in the afternoon. G-Drive’s dream day was completed by the team in the #26 car with Sam Bird second fastest in both sessions.
Nick Tandy, who will join Porsche’s LMP1 effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was third fastest in class in both sessions, the Brit driving KCMG’s ORECA-Nissan alongside Matthew Howson and Richard Bradley.
LMGTE Pro honours were split between Porsche Team Manthey and Aston Martin Racing. Bucking the trend of the Prototype classes it was Nicki Thiim’s morning lap in the Danish crewed Aston that ended the day as the best lap. His 2:01.393 held up to the scrutiny of Richard Lietz in the afternoon session, the German’s best lap stopping the clocks at 2:01.499.
The GT classes were typically close with all of the seven cars contesting the Pro class covered by less than a second in the morning. The top five in the LMGTE Am in both sessions set fastest times within half a second of each other with – like the Pro class – the best times coming in the morning.
Klaus Bachler was the best man in the class. In the Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing he shares with Christian Reid and Khaled Al-Qubaisi he lapped the 6.9km circuit in 2:02.350 with Aston driver Pedro Lamy’s afternoon session time less than a tenth of a second slower.
The FIA WEC weekend continues with third practice at 9am on Saturday.