Two red flag periods lost almost a third of the second practice session, as both IDEC Sport cars had big impacts with the barrier. Despite the drama in LMP2, Toyota Gazoo Racing extended its advantage on the LMP1 field, taking a second one-two, whilst Porsche GT Team found some needed additional pace in comparison to the morning session.
Toyota hadn’t looked like they were steaming too far ahead of the rest of the LMP1 field, until around the two-hour mark. Sebastian Buemi put in a 3:19.719, becoming the first and only driver to break the 3m19s threshold for lap time. Not even the sister car could match that, with the best lap coming from Mike Conway nine tenths off.
The rest of the chasing field could not get close to the lap times of the Toyotas, with fastest #3 Rebellion Racing third, 3.5s off Buemi’s time sheet-topping time. The class spread out quite a bit, as the #4 ByKolles Racing Team finished fourth, but slower than the fastest LMP2 car. No laps were set by the #1 Rebellion as the team was stuck in the garage throughout the session due to an engine change.
Alex Lynn was on track to lead another Aston Martin Racing one-two at the chequered flag, but his hopes were dashed when Michael Christensen improved in the #92 Porsche with 20 minutes to go. His time of a 3:52.783 was half a second faster than the lap time Lynn set. The #97 Aston Martin found itself stuck in a Porsche sandwich, with Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki rounding off the top three.
It was a strong performance from the #63 WeatherTech Racing ca. Not only was it the fastest placed Ferrari, but it beat three of the full season FIA World Endurance Championship cars.
The competition remained as close as every in LMP2, even if Nyck de Vries tried to pull away from the field in his #29 Racing Team Nederland. The Dutch-backed car spent most of the session leading the way, but it was late surges by #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing and the #38 JOTA that challenged them for the lead in class. It was a tight battle, but the Racing Team Nederland remained ahead, leading Will Stevens in the Jackie Chan car by around nine tenths. 2019/20 Fia Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa rounded up the top three in the #38 JOTA, half a second off the pace of Stevens.
But it was not the lap times that caused interest in LMP2. Both red flags of this session were not only brought out by LMP2 cars, but two cars from the same team.
IDEC Sport was helpless but to watch as both of their LMP2 cars had heavy impacts with the barriers, resulting in a lot of damage on both cars. Paul Lafargue was the first off in the #28 Oreca-chassis car just before the end of the first hour. He lost it coming through the second Mulsanne chicane, ending up facing oncoming race traffic with severe damage to the left hand side of the car. An hour later, the sole remaining IDEC Sport also took a trip into the barriers. This time is was Dwight Merriman at the wheel, crashing the #17 into the barriers at the exit of Porsche Curves.
Both cars have a lot of damage and repair work needed to get them in a position to be able to go racing again. At this point, it is not so much a worry of whether they will make it out for qualifying; the fifteen minute break between free practice two and the start of qualifying makes that impossible, but whether they will still be able to participate in Saturday’s race.
GTE Am also looked like it was going to belong to Aston Martin again, but just as it was in GT Pro the fastest lap was stolen in the closing moments of the session. Augusto Farfus led most of the session in the #98 Aston Martin, with a 3:55.167, but was beaten by both Come Ledogar and Matt Campbell in the last ten minutes. Ledogar took class lead first, setting a 3:54.901 in the #61 Luzich Racing, but Campbell’s stunning lap time of 3:53.961 not only put the Dempsey-Proton Racing P1 in class, but sixth fastest of all the GTE cars, only slower than the top five in GTE Pro. This meant that Campbell was faster than three of the full season WEC GTE Pro entries.