Toyota

  • Porsche win Climactic 2017 Le Mans

    Coming back from a hybrid system issue early in the race which had looked to put them out of contention for the 2017 Le Mans podium, the #2 Porsche crew fought back to take a spectacular victory in one of the most eventful races Le Mans has ever held. Tagged as an ‘old school Le Mans’ race, there was never a dull moment as the 24 hours flew past. Eleven of the starters failed to complete the race, one of the lowest percents of non-finishers in a 24 Hours of Le Mans.

    It had seemed like the race was over for the #2 Porsche crew when they were hit with a front axle drive failure around the four-hour mark, as it turns out, this was related to the hybrid system. The only way they would be able to recover the hour they had lost in the garage was if the entire LMP1 field suffered a delay as bad as they had. In a shocking twist in the middle of the night, two of the Toyotas retired from the race whilst the third Gazoo Racing entry was stuck in the pits for two hours. The bizarre twist of events saw the #2 up to second in class, albeit being about 45th in the overall classification.

    The plan for the team changed as the #2 crew focused on trying to score constructors points for the team. Constructor’s points are handed out at Le Mans depending on where the car finishes in class clarification. For the driver’s championship, the points are given to the drivers depending on where they finish in the overall standings. With the Porsche #2 team knowing they were in a good place in class clarification they focused on having a clean safe race and getting it across the line at the chequered flag.

    But Le Mans was not done with throwing up the twists and turns of the 24-hour endurance race. With only about three hours left on the clock, the Porsche #1 that had been leading by a comfortable 12 laps to the second-placed car (in the overall standings) dropped a lot of speed heading around Tertre Rouge. An oil pressure problem saw Andre Lotterer pulling over at the side of the Mulsanne Straight. As much as he tried to get the car back to the pits there was not enough battery power to limp back to the garage from where he was.

    This changed the race for the #2 Porsche as they were suddenly the highest placed LMP1 car. Crunching the numbers, they worked out that with an amazingly fast and consistent pace they could potentially pass all the LMP2 cars that were ahead of them and take the overall victory. They predicted that they would reach the then-leading LMP2 by the last lap of the race, however, three amazing stints by Brendon Hartley saw the Porsche #2 in a position to take the lead from the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing with an hour of track time left.

    The last hour was completely nerve-wracking for the #2 Porsche team. They had seen three of the five hybrid LMP1 cars retire instantly from the race and seen hybrid issues on the #8 as well as suffering hybrid issues themselves. There was a sense that Le Mans was not done with the LMP1 field and until Timo Bernhard took the chequered flag no one in the Porsche garage would believe that they had won the 85th running of Le Mans.

    The Toyota #8 was the only other LMP1 car to actually classify for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It seemed that the oppressive heat that descended over the Circuit de la Sarthe was affecting the hybrid systems of the LMP1 cars. Sebastien Buemi crossed the line to place the #8 ninth overall.

    It was a tight battle in LMP2 for the leading #38 car to take the overall victory of Le Mans. They had been in a strong position throughout most of the latter part of the race. When the #1 retired there was a small sense of belief that they would take the overall victory, but Hartley’s rapid place made it clear quickly that Porsche was on a mission.

    There was no challenge for the #38 for the LMP2 class victory. The real battle was between the #13 Vaillante Rebellion and the #35 Signatech Alpine as the race drew to a close. the #13 had the better race pace, but a starter motor failure saw them contending with extra long pit stops as they have to remove the back engine cover to manual kick the car into life.

    #13 ended up taking second in class, which also meant they took the bottom step of the overall podium. The #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing was very close to taking the position from the Rebellion crew and showed great race pace in the latter stages of the endurance.

    LMGTE Pro gifted one of the most intense wheel-to-wheel battles to the line for the victory in class. Over the last few hours of the race, the battle had been between Corvette Racing and Aston Martin Racing to take the class lead. Pit stops were shuffling the order and usually saw the Aston on top at the end of the hour as they pitted first.

    As the final hour ticked down, Jonny Adam was half a second off the back of the #63 Corvette Racing, then in the hands of Jordan Taylor. Adam tried to make a move work going into Arnage but going up the inside of the corner meant he went very deep on exit. He held the lead for a brief moment before Taylor took it back with ease.

    An assumed brake failure saw Taylor go straight on over one of the chicanes down the Mulsanne and pull a big advantage out on Adam. In terms of fair racing, Taylor dropped off the speed a little to reduce the advantage he had and make sure there was nothing he could be penalised.

    Adam was very clever as they headed through the final sector of the track. He kept his lines very tidy and clean, making sure he had the perfect run off of the Ford Chicane. Taylor had been trying to defend and left the racing line for Adam to use to produce a beautiful overtake for the lead of the class.

    Once Adam was passed, Taylor suffered a failure on his car that was either a brake failure or a puncture as a result of his excurtion through the Mulsanne gravel traps. As it was the final lap, Taylor drove carefully and tried hard to push the car to the finish whilst trying to hold onto his second position. But Harry Tincknell had been racing in the Ford Chip Ganassi #67 with a pace that would see him in the right place if one of the cars ahead of him had an issue. Knowing Taylor was vulnerable, Tincknell pushed hard for the last lap of the race, demoting Taylor to third in class as he took a deeply deserved second in class.

    The Am class podium saw a Ferrari domination. The #84 JMW Motorsport put on an amazing performance that saw them take class victory with at least a lap’s advantage over the rest of the field. Spirit of Race #55 Ferrari finished second with the last Ferrari on the podium being the #62 Scuderia Corsa.

    Aston Martin looked strong at the beginning of the race. The #98 Aston Martin Racing was leading the class at the beginning of the race before a tyre blow out saw them in the garage for a while with repairs, dropping them down the order. The #90 TF Sport was also looking like it could challenge the Ferraris for a podium finish, but a mistake in the middle of the night put the car in the barrier. Again, repairs in the garage saw it fall down the order.

    The best finishing Aston Martin in class was the #99 Beechdean AMR. It finished just off the podium in fourth, an admirable effort considering it is only the second time the team has raced Le Mans and they had a rookie driver on the team.

  • Porsche Withdraw from LMP1

    It has now been confirmed that Porsche will be leaving the LMP1 category in World Endurance Championship at the end of the season. Rumours had been circulating the team at the 6 Hours of Nurburgring, where Team Principle Andreas Seidl stated the team would decide on its future later this month. Porsche released a statement on their website this morning to confirm that 2017 would be the final season they would participate in LMP1 as they were turning their attention to enter the 2019 Formula E season.

    In the statement posted to their website, Michael Steiner, a member of the executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG, stated that is was the “growing freedom for in-house technology development [that] makes Formula E attractive to us.

    “Porsche is working with alternative, innovative drive concepts. For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high-performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability.

    “We want to be number one. To do that, we must invest accordingly.”

    Since their return to sports car racing in 2014, Porsche has had a lot of success in the LMP1 team. In their first year, they almost challenged Audi Sport for the overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Since then, the team has gone on to take three consecutive Le Mans victories and look to be set to take their third consecutive Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles at the end of the season in November.

    “Building up the Le Mans team from scratch was a huge challenge.” Fritz Enzinger said on the Porsche statement. “Over the years, we have developed an incredibly successful and professional team. This will be our basis going forward.

    “I am certain that we will maintain our high level in Formula E. Confidence is high, and we are excited to get started”

    Porsche had claimed that they will keep the LMP1 team together, with the six factory drivers staying on board, but which capacity has not been clarified. Along with this, the team will still run their GT programme, with the newly developed 911 RSRs in both the WEC and International Motor Sport Association.

    The announcement for Porsche to leave the WEC and join a fully electric race series comes days after the announcement that diesel and petrol cars will be banned from the roads in the UK and France from 2040. Whether or not this has anything to do with Porsche decision to leave the Hybrid racing series behind is unknown. Volkswagen are also still in a lot of financial issues from the “dieselgate” debacle which was one of the main reasons Audi pulled out of the series last year.

    Toyota Gazoo Racing have commented on Porsche’s decision to leave the LMP1 class, saying that it is “unfortunate” the German manufacture has left the sport. There has been no comment on Toyota’s future plans in the WEC. If they stay next season, as they are contracted to, they will be the only competitors in the LMP1-H class.

    It is clear that the WEC is not happy with Porsche’s sudden decision to leave WEC for Formula E. Before Porsche withdrew at the end of last week, both LMP1 teams – Porsche and Toyota Gazoo Racing – had confirmed commitment to participating in LMP1 until the end of 2018: “[Porsche] recently confirmed its participation in the FIA LMP1-H World Endurance Championship as a manufacturer up to the end of the 2018 season, and which has been actively involved in the development of the technical regulations that will come into force in 2020.” Toyota were clear that they were not going to make any comments about Porsche departure from the sport, but they have conceded that they only agreed to stay in the sport until the end of 2018 as they believed they would have factory competition. With this revelation, now not even Toyota have binding commitment after then end of this year.

    However, as there were rumours at the 6 Hours of Nurburgring that Porsche would not see past the end of the year in LMP1, the WEC and ACO have not been caught napping at the announcement of this news. There is already work underway to make sure the 2018 season is “a season which promises to be quite exceptional thanks to the introduction of new innovations.” Some of the regulations changes that were supposed to be coming in in 2020 are now being brought forward, with some changes due to come into effect as early as next year. WEC will make an announcement at the 6 Hours of Mexico about the new plan for the LMP1-H class for 2018.

    WEC’s main concern will be to keep Toyota on board net year, but with no one to race against there needs to be a very good reason for Toyota to stay.

    If Toyota were to leave there would no longer be an hybrid field in the WEC. This could be detrimental to the series as, with automotive vehicles becoming greener, the hybrid technology is the closest to road car technology for the future in the field.

    The WEC ended their statement by putting stress on the fact that cost and stability reduction, and inventiveness and audacity held the key to getting more manufacturers into the sport. This backs up Toyota’s claims that if the technical factor of the cars was reduced to save cost they would walk away from the LMP1 class.

    Right now, WEC’s priority must be keeping Toyota in WEC, but the question that remains is how are they going to do that when there are no longer any competitors for Toyota to try and beat?

  • Prologue 2018 - What did we learn?

    30 Hours of testing, 53,000km covered by all entries and it was Toyota Gazoo Racing who came out on top of the official pre-season test at Paul Ricard.

    #8 Toyota

    LMP1

    Toyota covered 5872km across the two cars, Mike Conway, topping the timing screens with a time of 1:32.662, significantly quicker than the non-hybrid LMP1 cars. It was however confirmed that Toyota had been running an unrestricted set up to test a new cooling system. This will perhaps come as some kind of relief to the competition with the closest non-hybrid entry, the #11 SMP Racing BR1 falling 4.3 seconds shy of the quickest pace. However, this is only pre-season testing, how much are the teams willing to reveal at this stage? Qualifying at Spa in just a few weeks’ time will be the first time to see the cars being pushed to the maximum.

    #1 Rebellion

    The huge amount of change in LMP1 over the winter break has been a major point of discussion and speculation in the past few months. Rebellion Racing have returned to LMP1 with the Rebellion R-13 piloted by Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Bruno Senna, arguably one of the most experience trios in the class and certainly one to watch as the super season unfolds! A deal was announced prior to the Prologue between TVR and Rebellion which sees the brand return to Le Mans for the first time in over a decade. TVR will be present as an “automotive partner”.

    It was a promising start for the LMP1 non-hybrid field with SMP Racing and Rebellion split by just 0.010 on the fastest lap, the #11 SMP besting the #1 Rebellion R-13 to take third and fourth respectively in the overall quickest lap time. An impressive start for Rebellion considering the lack of testing during the winter break. Unveiled to the world in Bahrain at the end of last season, the two SMP entered BR1s between them ran 515 laps.

    It was a quiet but good weekend for ByKolles in the updated CLM P1/01. The team dropped out of the 2017 season after Nurburgring as planned to focus on developing the new car. The car managed to run 331 laps, a significant improvement on this time last year when at Monza, they ran just a handful of laps.

    #6 CEFC TRSM

    CEFC TRSM (Manor/Ginetta to you and I), step up to LMP1 this year with a pair of Ginetta G60-LT-P1s. They experienced a number of minor issues throughout the test, struggling to get anywhere near the competition in terms of lap times complete. The #6 car finished with 121 laps on the board whilst the #5 made a late debut on Friday after a water leak stopped the team from running early on Friday. It was a fantastic job from the Ginetta and Manor pit crew to get the car up and running considering it was still being built on Thursday. The #5 made an initial run around sunset on Friday evening but was forced back to the pits with a few teething problems. The car returned later that night with Mike Simpson at the wheel before getting some consistent running in early Saturday morning, managing to clock 138 laps as a result.

    DragonSpeed split their efforts between LMP1 and LMP2 this year, running a Gibson BR1 in LMP1. This was one of the first outings for the car with the team focused on trialling different set ups and getting track time for Henrik Hedman. They completed the session with 145 laps on the clock.

    LMP2

    #38 Jackie Chan Racing

    Its the same old faces but with additional variety this year in LMP2. Jackie Chan DC Racing return to the championship with their two Gibson powered Oreca 07s alongside TDS Racing and Signatech Alpine. Championship regulars and 2016 champions G-Drive have stepped back from a full season campaign and were absent at The Prologue but will join the grid at Spa in preparation for Le Mans. Team Nederland join the championship running the Dallara P217 whilst Larbre return to the WEC but this time in the Ligier JSP217, not the GTEAm Corvette of recent years. Along with multiple chassis this year, the teams are also running different rubber, split between Michelin and Dunlop tyres.

    #31 Dragon Speed

    It was a pretty quiet event for LMP2 with none of the teams signed up to run the full 30-hour session, all of them pulling into the pits before the sun set and re-joining the following morning. The DragonSpeed Oreca will be driven this season by Roberto Gonzalez, Ben Hanley and Pastor Maldonado, looking to relaunch his career after a few years out of F1. Maldonado was the quickest driver of the class, the only one to lap.

    GTE Pro

    #91 Porsche

    Porsche took a 1-2 finish at the top of the time sheets looking dominant throughout the weekend, the #91 leading the way in the hands of Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni with a time of 1:51.332, half a second ahead of the #92 which posted a time of 1:51.837. Ford were the only real challengers of the weekend, the four cars completing over 200 laps and split by less than a second.

    The latest generation of the Ferrari 488 GTE struggled all weekend. The #71 caught fire during re-fuelling early on Saturday and didn’t run again that day whilst the #51 struggled with tyre wear.

    #95 Aston Martin

    Aston Martin Racing debuted the new Vantage this weekend, not going for outright pace but favouring long distance running. The #95 completed 852 laps with all six drivers behind the wheel at one point or another, some of them splitting time between the #95 and #97 which got a further 235 laps under its belt.

    It was the championship debut for the new BMW M8 GTE (which had its official race debut at The Rolex 24 At Daytona back in January), the #82 car clocked up 682 laps whilst the #81 only completed a six-hour run.

    GTE Am

    #86 Porsche

    Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda return as defending champions in the #98 Aston Martin. They will once again face up against Dempsey Proton, who this year field a two-car line up, Gulf Racing back once again with the #86 Porsche, Spirit of Race Ferrari and Clearwater, each of whom have entered one car for the season. The class regulars will be joined by Team Project 1 (911 RSR), MR Racing (Ferrari 488) and TF Sport (Aston Martin).

    As in GTEPro, Porsche led the way in GTE AM, each team for the first time running the 911 RSR. Gulf Racing UK and Dempsey Proton were the ones to watch, the #88 of Matteo Cairoli eventually taking and holding the top spot with a time of 1:52.936. What was interesting about GTEAm however this year was how, on one lap pace, they mixed times with the GTEPro category. Will some of the faster Am drivers be able to fight with the back runners in GTE Pro?

    The Class of 2018

    17 Prototypes and 19 GTE cars lined up at Paul Ricard. There is clearly still a lot to learn and no one is really giving away their true performance just yet, however, it is going to be an incredible season. The championship new comers will hopefully shake the championship up this year, the privateer LMP1 teams challenging Toyota, the new LMP2 chassis with varying tire choices adds another variable to the competition who will have the advantage this year after an Oreca chassis lock out in LMP2 in 2017?

    Can BMW and the new Aston Martin Vantage look to challenge Porsche and Ford who have both enjoyed successes in the past couple of years?

    And with a number of championship new comers joining the fight in GTE Am, will it be the experienced WEC veterans who come out on top or the new challengers?

    Join us at Spa Francorchamps in May when the season truly begins.

  • Seven magnificent reasons why we’re excited about 2018

    On the face of it, the consecutive losses in the past year of both Audi and then Porsche from the LMP1 ranks have dealt hefty blows to the world of sports car racing, worthy of an Anthony Joshua right hook.

    But have the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship crumpled to the canvas, out for the count in their wake? Of course not.

    In fact, the jewel of long-distance sports car racing and its associated series have weathered the double blow remarkably well, and as we power on towards the brightening horizon of 2018 both appear decidedly spritely. Motor racing’s ability to sniff the smelling salts, rejuvenate and punch back stronger than ever never ceases to amaze.

    Le Mans in particular has always proven bigger than any single manufacturer, throughout its illustrious 95-year history. So as we settle into the brief seasonal hibernation induced by the heady mix of minced pies and mulled wine, let’s ponder exactly what will get our juices running again in 2018 as a new era dawns for the greatest motor race in the world.

    1. LMP1 takes a leaf from Mark Twain’s book

    Sure, as the last manufacturer standing with a hybrid thoroughbred, Toyota will never have a greater chance to end its infamous Le Mans jinx – with or without Fernando Alonso – running an updated version of its TS050 HYBRID.

    Toyota TS050 Hybrid 2017

    But with only two entries expected from the Japanese giant, even now nothing can be taken for granted. As Toyota knows only too well from recent (bitter) experience, the first competitor any manufacturer at Le Mans has to conquer is the race itself. Even with an apparent open goal, the capacity to balloon it over the bar once again, either through technical failures or driver mistakes, will be all too real for this team come June 16/17.

    2. There’s Rebellion in the ranks…

    Fresh from WEC title success in the super-competitive LMP2 arena, top prototype privateer Rebellion Racing has confirmed its return to the top category for 2018 with a two-car entry bristling with promise.

    And with the new rules designed to equalise performance between factory hybrid and privateer non-hybrid power, the Anglo-Swiss squad will carry genuine hope into the new year that its new contender will have the capacity to carry the fight to Toyota. Whether that’s realistic or not remains to be seen.

    The new car, said to be another creation from seasoned partner ORECA, will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Meanwhile, a superstar line-up of drivers has already been confirmed.

    Porsche LMP1 refugees Andre Lotter and Neel Jani have been named among the six, which also includes Bruno Senna – nephew of Ayrton – and talented youngster Thomas Laurent, who has controversially switched from the rival DC Racing LMP2 squad that came so close to sensationally winning the race overall last June.

    Rebellion is a seriously good racing team. Toyota will not underestimate its challenge.

    3. Privateers on parade: the new arrivals

    Along with Rebellion, the promise of greater LMP1 competition between manufacturer might and privateer pluck has enticed optimistic new projects into the top class, and one in particular looks certain to give the hordes of British Le Mans disciples a new focus come June.

    Successful LMP2 chassis builder Ginetta has accepted the challenge with an exciting all-new design set to be revealed at the Autosport International show at Birmingham’s NEC in January. The company has linked up with former F1 entrant Manor Racing for what promises to be a potent challenge.

    Then there’s SMP Racing’s new Dallara-built LMP1, dubbed the BR1, which was unveiled at the Bahrain WEC season finale in November. Run by top GP2/F2 team ART Grand Prix, with former Renault F1 ace Vitaly Petrov among the drivers, this is another serious effort with long-term potential.

    Fingers will be firmly crossed among sports car racing’s rule-makers that this revived interest in LMP1, fueled by ‘realistic’ budgets, will reap rewards for the privately funded entrants who have made the commitment. The silver lining of Audi and Porsche’s withdrawal glistens with genuine hope.

    4. GTE: who needs prototypes?

    Even if LMP1 does fall flat at Le Mans in June, the intensity of what will be happening behind them in the GTE ‘supercar’ class will more than compensate. Manufacturer interest has shot through the roof, and in a certain respect, it’s just a pity the influx of contenders aren’t competing for the overall win…

    That’s a debate for another day. For now, what matters is that the ‘race within a race’ at Le Mans promises serious bragging rights for some of the biggest and most famous motoring brands in the world.

    5. The Porsche factor: Mark Twain still relevant!

    Yes, I’m borrowing that cliché once more: the number one Le Mans manufacturer’s demise at the 24 Hours has been greatly exaggerated, despite that headline LMP1 withdrawal. That’s because Porsche has now doubled its efforts to conquer the GTE class, following its hat trick of overall wins between 2015-17.

    Regular GT aces Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki and Gianmaria Bruni, who will make his first start for Porsche at Le Mans following his defection from Ferrari, are all confirmed. But also expect to see former LMP1 stars Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas in action. That’s quite a squad to keep the winning run going, albeit in the lower class.

    6. German flavour remains potent

    As Porsche shows a renewed commitment to GT racing, so too do two other German automotive giants. For the first time since 2011, BMW is returning to Le Mans with an all-new GTE contender, while Mercedes will also be represented – even if it’s in disguise.

    Aston Martin will keep the British end up once again, with its fantastic-looking new Vantage set to defend the hard-fought victory of 2017. But the German link is under the hood: an AMG Mercedes twin turbo now powers Aston’s front-engined GTE contender, following the engineering tie-up between two brands.

    Aston Martin Vantage LM-GTE 2018

    Add in an unchanged Ford line-up, Ferrari coming off the back of WEC title success and a continued challenge from Corvette, and GTE offers potentially one of the strongest manufacturer entries in Le Mans history. The battle between Ferrari vs Porsche vs Aston Martin vs Corvette vs Ford vs BMW… take a breath… will be simply immense.

    Who needs LMP1?

    7. Super-sized season with a double helping of Le Mans

    All this is then set in the context of the WEC’s new-era ‘Super Season’ calendar. For the first time in the series’ history, the WEC will carry over into a second calendar year – allowing two consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours to count towards one world title campaign. Intriguing.

    The marathon season kicks off in May with the Spa 6 Hours, before the teams take in the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours in June. The next six-hour round follows at Silverstone, now running in spectator-friendly August (we hope!) rather than at wet and windy Easter, before the calendar year concludes with races at Fuji and Shanghai.

    FIA WEC 2018-19 Super Season Calendar

    Then in 2019 the ‘super season’ picks up once more in March, with an exciting new 1500-mile round at Sebring in Florida, taking place the day after IMSA’s blue-riband 12 Hours. The weekend of action creates a fantastic double-header that looks certain to become a new and hugely popular sports car racing tradition.

    Following Sebring, the teams return to Spa for another 6 Hours, before the series hits its climax at the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours. That establishment of a new rhythm to the sports car racing season, with the series ending at its most famous race, should hopefully boost the profile of the WEC – and in the future will offer a season shape that mimics that of football. It makes sense.

    So there you have it. Far from hand-wringing at a weakened LMP1 entry, sports car racing fans can look forward to fresh beginnings in 2018 – and Le Mans will be as unmissable as ever.

    Care to join us?

    In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and here’s to a flat-out new year.

    Damien Smith, former Editor of Motor Sport Magazine

  • Toyota Disqualified From 6 Hours of Silverstone

    Both Toyota TS050 Hybrids have been disqualified this evening from the 6 Hours of Silverstone due to technical infringements. As a result, Rebellion Racing inherit a 1-2 finish.

    Toyota were found to have failed a skid block deflection test in post race scrutineering. According to the stewards report the front section of the #8 Toyota’s skid block deflected 9mm under the specified 2500 N load on both sides. The #7 car had a 8mm deflection on the left side and a 6mm deflection on the right. Both cars were found to be in breach of Article 3.5.6.d of the LMP1H technical regulations and have therefore been excluded from the results. Toyota claim that both cars must have sustained damage to the internal stays resulting in the regulations breach. This explanation was quickly dismissed by the stewards who stated that the cars must be able to handle the normal demands of a six hour endurance race. The #3 Rebellion R13 of Mathias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes take the win in a 1-2 finish, marking the first outright victory for a non hybrid LMP1 since Spa 2012 where Audi won with the R18 Ultra.

  • Toyota lock out the front-row at Spa

    Toyota takes dominant one-two in Belgium to continue rapid Friday pace

    Toyota Gazoo Racing swept to a one-two in qualifying for the penultimate FIA World Endurance Championship race of the Super-Season at Spa-Francorchamps. Having rediscovered the pace the Japanese team had lost on Thursday in FP3 earlier in the day, the two TS050s continued their untouchable pace at the top of the field as the #7 qualified 0.496s ahead of the sister #8 to take the third pole of the season for the car crewed by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez. Claiming third, and best of the non-Hybrid LMP1s, was the #17 SMP Racing BR1 shared by Egor Orudzhev, Sergey Sirotkin and Stephane Sarrazin. The trio finished almost one second down on the pole-sitting Toyota, but held the same margin over the fourth-placed #3 Rebellion. Fifth and sixth went to SMP and Rebellion respectively, with ByKolles a long way off the pace - the best average time for the CLM P1/01 slower than the bulk of the LMP2 class in a troubled session for the team, which caused the only red flag of LMP qualifying after stopping on track at the hands of Tom Dillmann.

    Pole in the LMP2 class went to the pacesetting G-Drive Racing team which has topped a number of practice sessions so far in its Aurus 01. The Russian team fought off the combined threat of the Jackie Chan DC Racing pairing as the bumblebee-liveried #38 out-muscled the #37 by 0.333s. DragonSpeed - which showed pace in the wet FP2 session yesterday - claimed fourth by just 0.016s from the Signatech Alpine.

    Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK claimed GTE Pro pole in the Ford GT’s penultimate race as a factory effort as Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx combined to edge out the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin by 0.067s. In a sign of how close the lead GTE class was, the BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE of Antonio Felix Da Costa and Augusto Farfus combined to set an average lap time that was only 0.092s down on the pole time.

    It was the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage that took pole position in GTEAM, combining with Carlie Eastwood, the duo set an average lap time of 2:16.061 to take P1 by just 0.11 ahead of Matteo Cairoli and Gianluca Roda. The #56 Project1 Porsche 911 RSR took third with a time of 2:16.39.

    All four classes broke the qualifying lap records here at Spa but with rain and snow set to fall tomorrow, the race could go any way.

    The 2019 FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps kicks off at 13:30 local time tomorrow.

  • Toyota overcomes Wednesday struggles to secure qualifying 1-2

    Toyota Gazoo Racing has locked out the front-row in qualifying for this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours after a turnaround in form allowed Kazuki Nakajima to move the #8 up to second – 0.411s behind the pole-sitting #7.

    The front-row start is in stark contrast to the TS050’s form in Qualifying One on Wednesday night as Nakajima’s early flying lap in Thursday evening’s second session moved the car up to second. Despite his up-turn in pace, Kamui Kobayashi was also quick to improve on the provisional pole time for the #7 – his 3m15.497 was just 0.120s slower than the pole-time at last year’s Le Mans, the start of the Superseason.

    Six-tenths behind the Toyota was the #17 SMP Racing BR1. Stoffel Vandoorne had briefly set the fastest lap early in second qualifying – before it was beaten by the hybrid LMP1s – but was good enough to finish a couple of tenths clear of the fourth-placed #3 Rebellion Racing R13. That’s despite that car losing a chunk of time in Qualifying Two having pulled over exiting Mulsanne Corner with smoke and oil pouring out of the back of the car. Fifth went to the second SMP entry, which was the meat in a Rebellion sandwiched as the #1 finished the session sixth – losing the final hour of qualifying for a similar engine issue to the sister car.

    DragonSpeed will start seventh, the team not improving on the 3m20.200 set on Wednesday night. ByKolles did improve its time, but its 3m23.109 was almost three seconds off the back of the rest of the LMP1 field.

    Tristan Gommendy claimed LMP2 class pole for Graff in the last of three sessions as his 3m25.073 leapt the Oreca 07 ahead of the Loic Duval, who had sat on provisional class pole for a handful of minutes in the TDS Racing car. Despite sitting on top for the first two sessions, the #31 DragonSpeed car of Roberto Gonzalez, Anthony Davidson and Pastor Maldonado couldn’t make a similar upturn in pace to its rivals ahead and will start in third. Signatech Alpine will join DragonSpeed on the second row as the team’s mechanics resolved a mechanical issue that caused the Alpine A470 to lose a significant chunk of track time in the night session. Nicolas Lapierre’s 3m25.874 moved the car up from eighth and relegated IDEC Sport to fifth. G-Drive Racing will start the race in sixth in its Aurus 01, while United Autosports will start seventh in its Ligier. IDEC Sport will join DragonSpeed on the second row – two-tenths ahead of the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 in fifth.

    The back-and-forth battle for GTE Pro honours went the way of Aston Martin Racing as Marco Sorensen’s 3m48.000 in the #95 Vantage beat the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT by 0.112s, despite Harry Tincknell lowering his provisional pole time from last night by more than 1.4s. Corvette Racing secured third with just 20 minutes of qualifying remaining as Antonio Garcia hauled the #63 C7.R ahead of its IMSA rival the #93 CORE Autosport-run Porsche GT Team 911 RSR. Nick Tandy set the fastest lap for that car, 0.201s ahead of the #82 BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE as five manufacturers locked out the top five places. The sister BMW, driven by Nicky Catsburg, caused the first Slow Zone of Qualifying Three as he went off at the Ford Chicane. The #81 missed the remaining 110 minutes of the session as mechanics set about repairing the front-end damage to the car. It will start second-to-last in class, beating only the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

    Dempsey-Proton Racing’s GTE Am entries sandwiched the Risi Ferrari as Matteo Cairoli in the #88 Porsche 911 jumped ahead of Matt Campbell in the sister #77 on Thursday night as the team enjoyed a 1-2. Porsche entries secured a top three in the category as Thomas Preining moved the Gulf Racing example up to third in the dying moments of qualifying. The #78 Proton Competition car – the sister of the Dempsey-Proton entries – missed out on the chance of securing a 1-2-3-4 for the German manufacturer as Francesco Castellacci pipped the team to fourth by 0.011s as he moved the JMW Motorsport Ferrari up from P16.

    In worse news for the Proton team, there was official confirmation that the #99 run for Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Pat Long has officially been withdrawn from the race. Krohn was advised by the FIA to take a week off racing following his large shunt on the Mulsanne Straight in Free Practice.

  • Toyota survives rain, snow and hail to take victory in Spa

    #8 Toyota wins race dominant by lengthy spells under the safety car

    The #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi have put themselves in a great position to take the FIA World Endurance Championship title after winning a rain, snow and hail affected 6 Hours of Spa. While the start was held under glorious sunshine, it took a total five minutes for the race to be turned on its head as a rain-and-hail storm turned the track into an ice rink and left teams scratching their heads over when the best time was to switch to wet tyres with elements of the track still dry. However, as the storm worsened, the choice became elementary and the first of four safety cars came out to avoid drivers risking throwing their race away on the worst of the ice.

    With the race swapping between dry and wet on a regular basis, with snow and hail mixing things up as well, the race was dominated by safety car periods totalling more than 90 minutes as the race was eventually red flagged with eight minutes remaining and hail falling again. Calm through it all - despite a small spin for Alonso at Pouhon after running onto damp kerbing on slicks - was the #8 Toyota. As well as better dealing with the wet conditions - as the Hybrid system acts as a four-wheel drive system - their cause was helped by the sister #7 of Jose Mari Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway losing more than ten minutes in the garage with a Hybrid driver sensor failure. Recovering to sixth - four laps down on the winners - allowed them to score some drivers championship points but they are facing a deficit of 32 points to the sister #7 with only 38 available for winning the final round of the Superseason - the Le Mans 24 Hours.

    Back in Belgium, the #7s demise promoted the privateer LMP1s onto the podium. Second went the way of Rebellion Racing as the #3 of Thomas Laurent, Nathaniel Berthon and Gustavo Menezes came out best in a race-long duel with the SMP Racing entries. The Russian cars came home third and fourth, with the #11 finishing a lap ahead of the #17 after a largely faultless run for the BR1s despite the #11 - of Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov and Stoffel Vandoorne - receiving a drive-through penalty just after the halfway mark for not respecting the full course yellow procedure. Fifth went to the second #1 Rebellion, while ByKolles capped off a difficult weekend by finishing 38 laps down in last place overall after a lengthy spell in the garage to repair damage sustained by tangling with the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 at the entry to La Source. A combination of great pace in all conditions and perfect timing from the safety cars secured the LMP2 class victory for DragonSpeed and Roberto Gonzales, Anthony Davidson and Pastor Maldonado.

    Picking their way through the field in the final third of the race, Pastor Maldonado pulled the Oreca up to third and when the penultimate safety car put the Venezuelan on the back of the Signatech Alpine and the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing cars, Maldonado took his chance. Passing both of them with brilliant displays of racecraft, he built up a healthy gap over the pair before the last neutralisation period. Despite seeing his lead shrink to nothing, Maldonado managed the final minutes of green flag running to secure the teams first win of the Superseason. Second went to polesitters G-Drive Racing as Jean-Eric Vergnes late pace moved the Aurus 01 up to second. Signatech Alpine rounded out the podium as Nicolas Lapierre demoted the #38 to fourth. Early pacesetters Racing Team Nederland, which Giedo Van Der Garde spectacularly navigated to the lead of the class following some blindingly quick opening laps, slipped to sixth in class by race end. Their fall down the order was caused by both a drive-through penalty for not respecting the FCY procedure, and a two-minute stop-and-hold penalty after Frits Van Eerd forced Aston Martins Nicki Thiim off-track at La Sources while trying to lap the Dane. Finishing in front of the yellow Dallara was TDS Racing, with Norman Nato, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Francois Perrodo not able to maintain a leading pace in their Oreca.

    A thrill-a-minute GTE Pro was eventually decided in favour of the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of local favourite Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn after Martin passed AF Corses Davide Rigon with a great turn of speed in the wet following the penultimate restart. The Belgians cause was helped by alternating pit strategies relegating his nearest competition - namely Rigon in the #71 Ferrari and both BMWs - down the order. Late stops for all three allowed Rigons team-mate James Calado to snatch second for the #51 with Richard Lietz rounding out the podium. However, the latter #91 Porsche driven by Lietz - and shared with Gianmaria Bruni - was hit with a 17s post-race time penalty in lieu of a drive-through for causing a collision with the GTE Am Spirit of Race Ferrari. The penalty drops the #91 down to eighth in class, with the sister #92 of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen moving onto the podium. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK struggled in the wet, with Harry Tincknell reporting early in the race that the Ford GT struggles to build up tyre temperature in the wet conditions. The best of the blue ovals was the #67 Tincknell shares with Andy Priaulx, which finished sixth.

    GTE Am went the way of Dempsey-Proton Racing as the #77 of Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matt Campbell pulled away from Charlie Eastwood in the TF Sport Aston Martin at the final restart to take yet another win for the Porsche team. Behind Eastwood, was the Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE. Matt Griffin, Matteo Cressoni and Luis Perez Companc putting a difficult Sebring round - in which Companc crashed in qualifying and the team failed to start the race - behind them.

  • Toyota take 1-2 finish in Shanghai

    Toyota Gazoo take a 1-2 finish in the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Shanghai.

    The #7 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez took the win in a rain soaked 6 Hours of Shanghai that was interrupted by numerous red flags. The storm began before the race, intensifying in the run up to the start. The race began under safety car and with poor visibility it was quickly red flagged after the #3 Rebellion R-13 slammed into the barriers after aquaplaning on standing water. The race began briefly before a second red flag as the rain intensified. The race eventually went green with just over three hours to run as the track began to dry. The ByKolless CLM caught fire on the pit straight bringing out another safety car. With the safety car back in the pits, the race re-started before a final safety car and late rain storm towards the end of the race added to the drama.

    Behind the Toyota, SMP and Rebellion fought for the last step of the podium, SMP claiming their first podium of the season. The #11 BR1 of Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin finished a lap down on the two Toyotas but ahead of the Rebellions and the sister car - Matevos Issakyan having a big off in the final 20 minutes and triggering the final safety car. The #1 Rebellion R13 finished fourth ahead of the #3. Lotterer and Petrov fought hard in the closing stages, Lotterer unable to keep up with Petrov in the final minutes.

    In LMP2, the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing of Stephane Richelmi, Gabriel Aubrey and Ho Pin Tung took their third win of the season in difficult conditions. The car had multiple offs during the race but managed to keep consistent when on track. The DragonSpeed #31 Oreca led the race for most of the second half before eventually finishing second. The Signatech Alpine took third after the TDS Racing Oreca had to pit on the final lap. The #38 now has a good lead in the championship, both cars having started the race on equal points. The LMP2 cars struggled throughout the race, the GTE Pro cars performing better in the wet conditions saw the GTE-Pro class winning #95 Aston Martin finishing ahead of the LMP2 field.

    It was a massive victory for Aston Martin in GTE-Pro, taking the first win of the season for the new Aston Martin Vantage. Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen mastered the tricky conditions, fighting their way through the field from fourth in the fifth hour after the ByKolles fire. Behind them, Richard Lietz took the #91 Porsche to second place, passing Tom Blomqvist in the #82 BMW, Davide Rigon in the #71 Ferrari and Alex Lynn in the #97 Aston Martin. The #92 Porsche finished third in the hands of Michael Christensen who fought past Maxime Martin in the finally stages. The #51 Ferrari rounded out the top five. BMW fell down the order as the race progressed, the #82 falling outside of the top 10 whilst the #81 crossed the line in sixth place.

    Having started on pole, the #66 Ford got caught up in contact with the #92 Porsche early on. Kevin Estre hit Olivier Pla into Turn 1. The stewards put it down to a racing incident with no penalty for either car. Andy Priaulx lost control of the #67, sending the Ford into the gravel trap. Priaulx and Tincknell finished in seventh.

    Dempsey Proton Racing took the win in GTE-Am, the team having lost all of their points following technical infringements and data tampering after Fuji. The #77 won the race, leading the way from the Project 1 Porsche who have now inherited the AM Class Championship. The #88 Dempsey Proton Porsche finished the podium places having lost second in the closing moments.

  • Toyota take first pole of the season.

    The #7 Toyota took the first pole of the new World Endurance Championship super-season for tomorrow’s Spa 6 Hours, as Toyota dominated the red flag-interrupted session.

    Toyota LMP1 Spa 2018

    The #7 Toyota TS050 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez beat its sister #8 machine of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi by just under four tenths on the average time. After the first runs Conway’s 1m54.679s mark beat Alonso’s effort by just under half a second. Then in the second efforts Kobayashi 1m 54.488s time was three tenths under that of Nakajima.

    “Just tried to put two good laps together between me and Kamui,” said Conway, “we had a few poles last year we didn’t quite convert to wins, we’ll make sure we’ll convert some wins this year. It’s a good start anyway. It’ll still be tricky tomorrow with the amount of tyres we have, I’m sure the privateers will keep us on our toes.”

    As anticipated Toyota were clearly the quickest of the LMP1 cars. The Rebellion-Gibson R-13s led the privateer non-hybrid LMP1 pack behind, with Neel Jani and Bruno Senna – who will be driving with Andre Lotterer tomorrow – starting third with an average 1.8s off the pole-time. Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes got fourth in the other Rebellion with an average 2.4s off the pace. They will drive tomorrow with Mathias Beche.

    The SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 all-Russian #11 car of Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov will start fifth, ahead of the ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01 of Oliver Webb, Dominik Kraihamer and Tom Dillmann.

    FIA WEC Dragonspeed WEC

    Prototype qualifying was first interrupted in the early minutes by the #17 SMP Racing BR1 stopping on the Kemmel straight having lost the engine and gearbox with Stephane Sarrazin at the wheel, and had not set a time. Then around a third of the way into the session Pietro Fittipaldi caused a lengthy stoppage with a big front-on crash at Raidillon in his DragonSpeed-Gibson BR1.

    An official statement from the team and the FIA declared: “At 15:52 today, Friday 4 May 2018, the No.10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1 left the track at high speed at Raidillon. The driver, who was conscious at all times, was attended immediately by the Circuit de Spa Francorchamps Medical Services and FIA Medical Delegate Jacques Tropenat, extracted from the car and taken by helicopter to the Centre Hospitalier de la Citadelle de Liege with suspected fractures to both legs. He is accompanied by the DragonSpeed Team Manager and his condition is not life threatening.”

    The CEFC TRSM Racing Ginettas didn’t set a qualifying time, and it was announced shortly after qualifying that the team will take no further part in the weekend due to financial issues with sponsor TRS.

    Alpine LMP2 Spa 2018

    Signatech Alpine Matmut took LMP2 pole after pipping the G-Drive Racing machine. The average time of Nicolas Lapierre and Pierre Thiriet in their Alpine A470-Gibson beat that of Formula E championship leader Jean-Eric Verge and Andrea Pizzitola in their Oreca 07-Gibson by just two hundredths of a second.

    “Very tough weekend so far,” said Lapierre, “but we’ve improved the car a lot for the qualifying so we are very pleased, it was a very special qualifying as we didn’t have so much time to set a lap.”

    The Jota Sport-run Jackie Chan DC Racing pair was next up, with Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry starting third with an average time four tenths off the pace and beating team-mates Jazeman Jaafar and Nabil Jeffry’s average in fourth by two tenths. They were followed by the DragonSpeed Oreca 07-Gibson of Pastor Maldonado and Roberto Gonzalez in fifth.

    Short Image Description

    The Chip Ganassi-run Fords took the first two places in GTE Pro class, with the #67 car of Andy Priaulx, Harry Ticknell and Tony Kanaan pipping Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke and Billy Johnson in the #66 by just 0.083s. Pla beat Priaulx by two tenths in their first runs but Ticknell’s best in the second runs beat Mucke’s by over three tenths to but him just ahead on average time.

    “Had a good first banker lap,” said Priaulx, “and Harry did a great lap on the used tyre. So really super happy with the car. But the Porsche looked really strong and our team-mates were strong so I think this year the GTE Pro class is going to be a really tough battle.”

    The Ford pair just beat the Porcshe 911 RSR of Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni, whose average time was just four thousandths slower than the #66 Ford on the average time. The other Porsche 911 of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre was fourth, four tenths off the top.

    Reigning GTE Pro champions James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the Ferrari 488 GTE EVO were fifth quickest, 1.4s off the top, while the best of the BMW M8 GTEs making its championship debut was Andretti BMW Formula E duo Antonio Felix Da Costa and Tom Blomqvist in sixth, a tenth behind the Ferrari on the average time.

    The quickest of the new Aston Martin Vantage AMRs was the #97 car of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn in seventh.

    Porsche #77 FIA WEC Spa

    Dempsey-Proton Racing’s Porsche 911 RSR #77 took the GTE Am pole, for Christian Ried, Matt Campbell and Julien Andlauer. They beat reigning GTE Am champions Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda in the Aston Martin Vantage #98 by a mere 0.002s on the average.

    Team Project 1, new to the series from Porsche Supercup and Carrera Cup, took third in class with the #56 Porsche 911 RSR for Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti.

  • Toyota take pole at Fuji

    Kobayashi and Lopez take home pole for Toyota in LMP1

    Toyota Gazoo Racing will start its home FIA World Endurance Championship race on pole position as it took a 1-2 in qualifying at Fuji Speedway. The #7 TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez ended the 20-minute session on pole, but they had fortune on their side as the #8 – driven by Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi – had a lap deleted late on. The penalty, for Buemi running wide at turn 15, demoted the Swiss from pole to second, and his second lap was only good enough for second – 0.091sec off the pole on the two-driver average lap times.

    The second row was locked out by Rebellion Racing as the pairing of Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani in the #1 R13-Gibson edged out their team-mates Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent by 0.174sec. Fifth went to the #11 SMP Racing entry of Stephane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev, the pair finishing just ahead of the sister car of Jenson Button and Vitaly Petrov.

    In LMP2, it was the Dragonspeed Oreca 07 that claimed the top spot as Anthony Davidson’s blistering lap in his stint combined with an equally strong time from Roberto Gonzalez to go 0.297sec clear of the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca. The #37 – driven by Jazeman Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri – edged out the second car of Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry by just 0.091sec in a session-long battle between the pair.Fourth went to Signatech Alpine, with TDS Racing – which was fighting at the top in practice – only fifth at the hands of Francois Perrodo and Matthieu Vaxiviere.

    In GTE Pro, Aston Martin Racing secured the best qualifying result for the new Aston Martin Vantage so far this season as it claimed a 1-3 start. Taking pole position was the ‘Dane Train’ #95 of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen as the pair set a 1m36.093sec on their average times to go 0.182sec clear of the BMW Team MTEK BMW M8 of Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Felix Da Costa. Third was the second Aston Martin of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin, which was just 0.091sec quicker than the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell – the latter losing time on his last flying lap, and missing out on the chance of improving the #67’s time. The #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird rounded out the top five, just 0.449sec off the pace of the pole sitters.

    Like Free Practice Three this morning, GTE Am was dominated by the Porsche 911 RSRs. Claiming pole position was the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing entry driven by Matteo Cairoli and Satoshi Hoshino. The Pedro Lamy/Paul Dalla Lana Aston Martin was second – breaking the Porsche dominance slightly – but they have two Porsches breathing down their neck – the #77 Dempsey-Proton entry and the #56 Team Project 1 car.

  • WEC 6 Hours of Spa Qualifying

    Having topped the time sheets in all three Free Practice sessions, everyone’s money was on Toyota to take pole position at the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps. But in a session that was interrupted by a red flag, it was the #1 Porsche 919 of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy that took pole position with an average lap time of 1:54.097.

    This is Lotterer’s first pole position with the 919. “Neel did an amazing lap, for me it was smooth, conservative, I didn’t realise there was so much grip, it’s cool that my fastest lap was quicker than by best lap in F1 here,” Lotterer said. “I didn’t think we’d beat the Toyotas as they’ve looked strong all week. The first job is done, the next step is to win the race tomorrow.” Toyota took second, third and fourth on the grid with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway setting the best lap time of the three with a 1:54.693. It could be argued that Toyota could have made pole position if the session had not been red flagged. They also had laps removed for track limits. Brendon Hartley made an uncharacteristic error at the Bus Stop, locking the brakes and going straight off circuit on his flying lap. Hartley and Bernhard were unable to recover and could only manage a best average time of 1:55.440.

    G-Drive Racing took pole position in LMP2, their second of the season which saw championship new comer Alex Lynn post a time of 2:01.253. That time was quicker than the pole position time set by Allan McNish in the #2 Audi R18 in its first race at Spa. With Pierre Thiriet’s lap time taken into account, the pair averaged a time of 2:02.601. Matt Rao and Gustavo Menezes took second place in the #36 with a time of 2:02.624, just 5000ths of a second quicker than the sister #35 car. The #24 Manor and #13 Vaillante Rebellion rounded out the top five in a qualifying session where the top five were split by just a second, incredibly, the top four were just 0.031 seconds apart. The session was red flagged part way through with Vitaly Petrov crashing the #25 Manor at turn nine on his first hot lap. Petrov lost the rear of the car under braking and slammed in to the tyre wall side on, damaging the right side of the car.

    In GTE Pro, Davide Rigon and Sam Bird topped the time sheets with a 2:15.017 in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488, the pair were half a second quicker than the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK GT with Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla posting a 2:15.418. Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell were just a tenth behind, qualifying the Silverstone winning #67 car in third. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Calado and Pier Guidi took fourth with the #91 Porsche rounding out the top five. Aston Martin will start on pole position in GTE Am, Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy securing the 46th class pole for Aston Martin in the #98 Vantage. Lamy put in a late lap to post an average time of 2:18.659 and take pole position ahead of the #77 Porsche and #54 Ferrari. The top 3 in GTE Am were split by exactly a second.

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