For the opening practice session of the FIA World Endurance Championship 8 Hours of Portimao, Antonio Felix Da Costa has put an LMP2 car on top of the timing board ahead of the Hypercar entries.
Da Costa’s lap came in the final moments of the session where his 1:33.752 was 0.029s faster than the then fastest Alpine Elf Matmut LMP1 car, but the entire session was a story of ‘close’ lap times as the top four were covered by 0.055s at the chequered flag. Alpine had been on route to go faster than both Toyota Gazoo Racing entries to steal the headlines at the end of the practice session.
Whilst the slowest time in the top four was a 1:33.807 (set by Kamui Kobayashi in the #7) the other Hypercar entry from Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus was a second off the pace, finishing 12th in the middle of the LMP2 entries. They will be hoping to find some more speed around the Algarve Circuit as the race weekend progresses.
With Da Costa fastest overall, he also put JOTA on the top spot in LMP2. Alex Brundle was the only other driver to set a sub 1m34s lap time with a 1:33.979, only 0.072s off Kobayashi’s lap in the Europol car. Third in class, a further three tenths down, was Ben Hanley in the DragonSpeed. Tom Blomqvist in the second JOTA and Norman Nato on board the RealTeam Racing LMP2 cars finished off the top ten, with Nato just under a second off Da Costa’s time.
The session ended with a Porsche GT Team one-two as Kevin Estre stole the fastest lap from driver of the sister Porsche, Gianmaria Bruni. Estre’s 1:40.227 piped his teammate by just under a tenth of a second to take glory at the end of the first practice session. The Ferrari duo were down on lap time, but it is still fairly closer with all GTE Pro cars covered by half a second. Daniel Serra out paced James Calado by 0.056s in the 90-minute session.
It was Porsche, Ferrari, Porsche in GTE Am with Matt Campbell leading the way for the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing. His 1:41.202 was two tenths up on the Iron Lynx Ferrari of Claudio Schiavoni, Andrea Piccini and Matteo Cressoni in second as Team Project 1 #56 closed up the top three.
Saturday of the 8 Hours of Portimao will be action-packed, with the final two practice sessions and qualifying all happening tomorrow. Will the LMP2s keep leading the way or will normality return on the weekend? Stay tuned to TheCheckeredFlag to find out.