Porsche Tops COTA First Practice

Porsche made an early statement ahead of the Austin round of the FIA World Endurance Championship by setting the two fastest times in first practice.

Romain Dumas (#18) took the top spot with a 1:47.231s effort in the final 10 minutes, almost three tenths ahead of Mark Webber in the sister #17 car.

Porsche set the pace throughout the session, with Audi’s R18 etron-quattros clearly playing second fiddle.

The #8 Audi of Oliver Jarvis was just over one and a half seconds off the pace by the end of the session, while the #7 car only completed four laps as mechanical issues prevented the team from gaining a significant amount of track time. André Lotterer did eventually give the car an on-track appearance, but could only set the seventh fastest time overall.

Toyota occupied fourth and fifth, with the #1 TS040 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi leading the pair on a 1:51.279s. Mike Conway, fresh from his one-off appearance aboard a Ford Anglia at the Goodwood Revival, clocked the #2 car’s best lap at 1:52.180s.

The privateer LMP1 teams were, as expected, behind the manufacturers, but both Rebellion Raing and Team ByKolles had solid runs with their AER-powered machines. The #12 Rebellion led the way – Nicolas Prost setting a fastest lap of 1:55.844s.

The KCMG squad continued its impressive run of form in LMP2 as former Toyota driver Nicolas Lapierre topped the category timesheets with a 1:57.764s lap.

Lapierre’s effort was seven tenths quicker than Johannes van Overbeek in the #31 Extreme Speed Motorsport Ligier, while Ryan Dalziel followed closely in the sister ESM car.

GTE-Pro first practice was dictated by Ferrari, most notably the #71 458 Italia of James Calado that currently leads the championship. Calado’s 2:6.753s best was exactly six tenths faster than Gianmaria Bruni in the other AF Corse entry. Third in GTE-Pro went to Patrick Pilet of Porsche Team Manthey, who narrowly missed splitting the Ferraris at the end of the session.

American driver Patrick Long took the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche to the top of the GTE-Am order with a 2:07.487s time that would have placed him amongst the Pro entries.

Second quickest in class was the Larbre Compétition Corvette C7.R, while third went to the title challenging #83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.