As practice comes to an end at Silverstone, it is Fernando Alonso who knocked Mike Conway off the top spot of the session, taking the fastest lap with the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing for the first time this weekend. However, attention was firmly on the GTE Pro class as the class order went through another unexpected shuffle.
The hour session passed with little incident. Due to a bollard coming onto the track at Maggotts, the session was red flagged so the debris could be removed. With just three minutes remaining on the clock, the final practice session did not restart.
Alonso was first out on track, so had a relatively clean lap to set his 1:37.677, which went unrivalled throughout the hour. The SMP Racing cars showed more competitive performance this morning, as they had showed in free practice two yesterday, and managed to get themselves between the two Toyotas. The #7 was 2.356 seconds off the time of Alonso in the #8, but this is not expected to be repeated in qualifying this afternoon.
After Bruno Senna‘s crash at Copse put the #1 Rebellion Racing car out of action yesterday, it was good to see both zebra-print red cars out on track today. Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer take on the weekend as a duo now, and managed to set a time that placed them sixth fastest, behind the sister #3 car. It is good to see that SMP may be able to take the fight to Rebellion this weekend, and suggests some good on track battles could be in store during the six-hour race tomorrow.
TDS Racing was back on top of LMP2 again this morning, this time in the hands of Matthieu Vaxiviere. His 1:44.247 gave him a six-tenth advantage on the Jackie Chan DC Racing duo, who finished off the top three at the chequered flag.
The ORECA-running cars still led the way, with only the class points-leading #36 Signatech Alpine finishing behind a non-ORECA car. The #29 Dallra-running Racing Team Nederland managed to go two-tenths faster than the Signatech for fifth in class. Nyck de Vries makes his WEC debut with the team this weekend, sharing the cockpit with Giedo Van Der Garde and Frits Van Eerd, and showed some good pace in this morning’s session.
GTE Pro was the class to watch this session, as more surprising bursts of pace were shown ahead of qualifying this afternoon. Augusto Farfus put the #82 briefly at the front of the class, suggesting that claims made by the BMW Team MTEK earlier on this week that their first WEC win was imminent may not be that far off the truth.
The BoP reset that happened ahead of this weekend seems to have had a positive affect on the class, bringing the field slightly closer together. Although James Calado and Alex Lynn expressed that the BoP was slowly doing its job, but could take a few more races to get right, the competitive order does definitely look to be moving in the right direction.
Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK still locked out the top two, with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell leading the way in the #67, but hopefully the other teams can show more pace to give them a fight for pole this afternoon.
The Am class also produced some mixed results ahead of qualifying. Reigning class champions Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Matthias Lauda set the pace with a 1:58.460. However, the result of the session showed that the top seven cars (only nine in the class) were covered by under a second, with the top three spots being held by three different manufactures. It’s safe to say that the Am class should be close and produce some unmissable on track action.