Keeping up their streak of out pacing the Hypercars, LMP2 cars once again show the dominant pace during the final practice session of the FIA World Endurance Championship 8 Hours of Portimao. Following on from this morning’s performance, Paul di Resta has once again put the United Autosport on top.
Toyota Gazoo Racing are still on the backfoot going into qualifying, where the pace seen so far suggests we could get an LMP2 car on overall pole. Di Resta’s 1:31.628 gave him the fastest lap by a couple of hundredths over LMP1-running Alpine Elf Matmut, keeping their hopes alive to take their first pole position of the season. Fastest from FP1, Anotino Felix Da Costa rounded off the overall top three, second fastest in LMP2, with a 1:31.765.
The pace at the front has been close throughout the practice sessions at Portimao, but Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus have seemed to be off the pace until the final hour of practice where they have taken fourth on the timing screen. A last minute dash to the flag saw Richard Westbrook demote Sebastien Buemi from fourth with a 1:31.916. Toyota managed to break the 1m31s lap time for the first time this weekend with Buemi’s 1:31.974. This placed him fifth, but unfortunately the sister car could do no better than a 1:32.310, placing them ninth overall.
Inter Europol Competition, Racing Team Nederland and Team WRT split the Toyota pair respectively with DragonSpeed USA rounding off the top ten.
Porsche were back on top of GTE ahead of qualifying, reclaiming the one-two positions they had in first practice. Kevin Estre led Gianmaria Bruni with a 1:38.082, eight tenths up on the sister car. Although Estre seemed to be in a class of his own, Bruni had competition from Ferrari‘s Daniel Serra who set a lap time a tenth slower than the Porsche. The final Ferrari of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi was three tenths off, fifth overall in GTE split from the other Pro cars by the Team Project 1 Porsche.
Matteo Cairoli had the advantage in Am, going faster than the other cars in class by just under half a second. Matt Campbell made it a Porsche one-two in Am as well as Pro, with works #54 AF Corse completing the top three.
It looks like the Hypercars may have a challenge on their hand from the LMP2s, looking for outright pole position in qualifying later today, but it also looks like Toyota might be out of the fight before it has even started. With Ferrari and Porsche swapping advantage every other session, all four pole positions could go any way. Qualifying gets underway in two hours’ time (18:00 GMT/UTC).