FIA WEC

Ferrari Top Both Friday Practise Sessions In Imola

3 Mins read
The distinctive yellow Ferrari 499P that topped the first Friday practise session. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

It’s been a great start to their home race weekend for Ferrari AF Corse. The Italian team secured the top spot in the Hypercar class in the first two practise sessions as the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) gets ready for the 6 Hours of Imola, the second round of the championship. In LMGT3, it was another double success, this time for TF Sport and their pair of Corvette ZO6 LMGT3.R cars.

Credit: Ferrari Media Centre

Hypercar

The Italian fans had a superb start to their Friday at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. In FP1, four out the top five cars were Italian. The #83 Ferrari led the way with China’s Yifei Ye posting a 1:31.347, putting the privately run Ferrari 0.156 seconds ahead of the factory run #50 car. Splitting the Italian pack was Peugeot TotalEnergies. The French team will be delighted with 3rd, as their car has undergone a major overhaul before this round.

The new version of the Peugeot 9X8 hit the track for the first time. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

Equally delighted will be Lamborghini Iron Lynx, who secured a brilliant 4th place at their home track. They will be hoping to continue that form as the weekend progresses. The final Ferrari, the #51 car, posted a 1:32.065 to round out the top five.

Then came a trio of Porsches. Once again, a privateer team beat the factory outfit as the #99 Proton Competition car led the two Porsche Penske Motorsport machines home. Reigning world champions Toyota Gazoo Racing finished FP1 in 9th and 10th The Japanese team are targeting a podium this weekend in Imola, so there is work to be done if they want to achieve their goals.

Toyota Gazoo Racing had a mixed day on Friday as they strive to get back on the podium. Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

FP2 also saw success for Ferrari, this time for the factory team as Antonio Fuoco posted a 1:30.957 in the #50 car. This time, however, the main competition came from Porsche Penske Motorsport. The #6 car that dominated the opening race at the Qatar 1812km looked on flying form as Kevin Estre posted a best time just 0.342 seconds behind Fuoco. Robert Schwartzman in the #83 Ferrari maintained the brisk pace of his car, posting a best time a mere 0.032 seconds of the pace of the Porsche.

The sister cars fared less well. The #51 Ferrari came in 9th and the #5 Porsche could do no better than 18th. Toyota fared better in FP2 with Brendon Hartley taking his Toyota GR010 – Hybrid all the way up to 4th. Callum Ilott continues his impressive debut season by finishing up 5th for Hertz Team JOTA in his Porsche 963.

Peugeot’s impressive pace continued. Their two cars finished 6th and 8th on the leaderboard, an encouraging result for the new look Peugeot 9X8. Mick Schumacher, who has experience of racing at Imola in F1, took the only top ten finish for Alpine Endurance Team in the second session, while Raffaele Marciello did the same honours for BMW M Team WRT by finishing 10th overall.

The distinctive front end of the BMW M Team WRT Hypercar. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

LMGT3

In the LMGT3 class, the field was dominated by TF Sport. The team had looked very rapid throughout the Qatar 1812km weekend, only to have their race cruelly ended prematurely. Clearly they are on a mission to settle the score, finishing 1st and 2nd in FP1 and 1st and 3rd in FP2. Barring any major calamities, they may well prove to be a tough team to beat.

The #54 Ferrari 296 LMGT3 at Rivazza. Credit: Ferrari Media Centre

In another good result for the Italian home teams, Vista AF Corse were the only team to separate the Corvettes. Alessio Rovera posted a great time of 1:42.173 to split the two American cars in FP2. That car finished 5th in FP1 while the sister car, driven by Davide Rigon, finished 3rd, meaning the prancing horse could see the kind of success in Imola that Porsche secured in Qatar.

Team WRT also had a strong FP1. The #46 BMW M4 LMGT3, shared with local hero Valentino Rossi, came in fourth with the sister car finishing 6th. The fastest Porsche 911 GT3 R LMGT3 came in 7th position, while the Mathey PureRxing, winner of the season opener, could only manage 13th. Similarly, in FP2, those two Porsches came in 14th and 10th respectively. They will need to pull some performance out of the bag before qualifying on Saturday to replicate their success.

Heart of Racing Aston Martin. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

Elsewhere in FP2, Heart of Racing put in a strong performance to come 4th in their Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGT3 with the sister car coming in 6th. The Iron Lynx and Iron Dames duo of Lamborghini Huracan LMGT3 Evo2 cars came in 8th and 10th, split by the #31 BMW, the fastest the Bavarian team could manage in FP2.

While practise teams are never a true indication of race pace, the results of FP1 and FP2 both suggest that we should be in for an enthralling weekend of endurance racing in both Hypercar and LMGT3 classes. The lap difference between the top of the two classes is a mere 10 seconds, meaning overtaking and traffic management, as predicted, will play a crucial role in Sunday’s race.

Full results of FP1 and FP2 are available here.

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