Toytoa Take the Lead for Final Practice

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Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota TSO50-Hybrid, LMP1, #7 Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi, FIA World Endurance Championship Nurburgring Germany © Craig Robertson

The final practice session of the 6 Hours of Nurburgring saw Toyota Gazoo Racing on top of the pace ahead of qualifying. This will give Toyota a positive boost before they take on Porsche and try to beat them to pole position. In the final moments of the session, Ford Chip Ganassi #66 shot to the front of the Pro class for a surprise fastest lap.

Jose Maria Lopez has returned to the #7 Toyota this weekend for the first time since his big crash at the 6 Hours of Silverstone. He looks to have a point to prove as he set the fastest lap of the session, a 1:38.969, a time only three-tenths slower than the fastest lap of the weekend  – set by Brendon Hartley yesterday.

Porsche looked to be off the pace in the final session before qualifying. The closest Porsche to the Toyotas that were dictating the pace could get no closer than 1.666 seconds. The championship leading #2 outpaced the sister car to take third on the timing board. Even if Porsche cannot challenge Toyota for pole position later on, their race pace suggests they have an edge over Toyota for the six-hour event.

Porsche GT Team #91 © Craig Robertson

After a messy Friday, Vaillante Rebellion came back stronger today taking the fastest LMP2 lap time. Bruno Senna in the #31 set a time of 1:46.017, showing that Rebellion have a strong pace ahead of qualifying later on. The class-leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing was separated from the leading Rebellion by Nelson Panciatici in the #35 Signatech Alpine. The Alpines could be underdogs in Sunday’s race as they have consistently been within the top few cars in the class.

It was a dash to the end from Olivier Pla that saw the #66 Ford jump up to the top of the Pro class. The Fords have looked to be on the back foot this weekend, which could be a cause of their higher BoP for this weekend. Their pace made Pla’s sudden surge to the top of the timing board a bit of a surprise. That being said, the Championship-leading #67 has been fourth in class throughout the practice sessions. The main fight in the Pro class looks like it will be between Porsche GT Team and AF Corse.

Porsche have been strong at the Nurburgring this weekend, especially in the GT classes. The Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche has been especially strong and should be one to watch in qualifying and the race. Matteo Cairoli lead the Am field with a 1:56.882, a time that was unrivalled throughout the session. The Ferraris were also strong in Am, with Spirit of Race finishing four-tenths behind the Dempsey-Proton Porsche. It could be a great battle between the two of them come Sunday’s six-hour race.

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