Toyota Gazoo Racing was significantly faster than Porsche in the second practice session of the World Endurance Championship, leaving the German team behind by an impressive two seconds.
LMP2 was taken by Alex Lynn in the #26 G-Drive ORECA/Gibson with a lap time that was two-tenths faster than second-placed #36 Signatech Alpine. Porsche were back on the form they showed at Monza this afternoon with both fastest laps in the GTE classes set by Porsche-running teams.
It seemed like the high downforce aero kit that Toyota have installed on their Ts050 Hybrid machines were going to have no competition when Kazuki Nakajima put in a 1:38.210 in the Toyota #8 within the first few minutes of the session. The sister car was two-tenths off the pace of the #8, but Porsche could not get any closer than 2.290 seconds off the leading pace.
However, when looking at relative laps times it is clear to see that the pace of both cars was fairly evenly matched, even with Porsche running the low downforce ‘Le Mans’ specification aero package. Both teams were consistently setting 1m42s laps on average when they were setting long stints. It seemed like Porsche was focusing on long stints as both Andre Lotterer and Earl Bamber stayed in the cars without pitting until just before the hour mark. It may be simple for Toyota to secure pole position tomorrow but, come race day, the LMP1 battle could really be on.
ByKolles appeared to have made some improvements between sessions as they started the session fifth fastest overall and faster than all the LMP2 cars it could not beat this morning. The team is having a much better time with the car now than they were two weeks ago in Monza, with all three drivers getting time in the cockpit. They set 33 laps this session with a fastest time of 1:45.512. This was slower than the top two LMP2 cars and quite a lot off the pace of the other LMP1 cars on the grid by shows a big step up from the morning pace.
Nicolas Lapierre had an interesting start to the session in the #36 Signatech Alpine as within the first few moments it had brought out the only Full Course Yellows of the session. The car appeared to be travelling slowly as it came out of the pits but on its second lap the pace picked up. Sadly it was not to be as it got as far as Brooklands before ending up in the gravel. After about five minutes of Full Course Yellows Lapierre managed to get the ORECA/Gibson moving again and the track returned to green. It did not take long for the car to get back on track and be sitting second in class, where it still was at chequered flag.
Lynn took the fastest lap of the session with a 1:44.874 just after the Full Course Yellows. the #13 Variante Rebellion had been fastest before Lynn improved by the eight-tenth gap between the two of them was too much for the #13 crew to recover to take fastest for the second time today. Variante Rebellion #13 was P3 in class at the end of the session.
Porsche was back in GTE with the #92 Porsche GT Team returning to the form they showed in Monza by being fastest of the LM GTE Pro class. Jonny Adam was keen to make sure Aston Martin Racing‘s morning pace was not forgotten as he pushed to knock the #92 off to top of the leader board. He finished second to the Porsche two-tenths down on pace.
Ferrari still looked to be in a spot of trouble as they were eight-tenths off the pace of the #92 Porsche with their faster car. Sitting at the bottom of the Pro class is not where AF Corse will want to be and it does not look like they will be able to rectify this pace before tomorrow’s qualifying.
The #86 Gulf Racing Porsche led the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari home in LM GTE Am with a fastest class lap time of 1:59.991. The Ferrari was four-tenths off the pace of the leading Porsche and only a tenth up on the second Porsche #77 Dempsey Proton Racing that finished in third.
After an impressive start to the day, #98 Aston Martin Racing finished the second session second slowest of the whole grid. Only faster than the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE, the fastest lap time the #98 crew could produce was a 2:00.437. The session seemed to begin in a difficult manner for the team as the car sat in the garage at the bottom of the timing board with only a 2m12s lap time to its name. Whatever the problem was was resolved as the car managed to complete 38 laps in the remainder of the 90-minute session.