Free practice for the 2019 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps continued as challenging conditions swept through the Ardennes region. Heavy rain affected FP2, giving teams a chance to perfect their wet-weather set-ups in case the rain returns for Saturday’s race.Friday morning’s FP3 remained mercifully dry, and it was here that most drivers recorded their fastest lap times of the race weekend so far.
Toyota top in LMP1
Kamui Kobayashi was the fastest man on track during the three free practice sessions, setting a fastest time of 1:54.105 in FP3 in his #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid. The Japanese driver’s FP3 lap was over six tenths faster than the quickest lap time set in last year’s qualifying session, showing that the works team look to have found a great deal of additional pace year on year.
Second-fastest was race lap record holder Mike Conway, also in the #7 machine, whose fastest time was over a second slower than his teammate’s. Sergey Sirotkin’s 1:56.264 for the #17 SMP Racing BR01 – Gibson from FP1 was good enough for third-fastest across the three free practice sessions.
Porsche strike back in FP3
Almost all drivers in GTE Pro set their fastest times in FP3, as teams began to finalise their set-ups for the race. Porsche GT Team put their sluggish FP1 performance behind them to top the time sheets in FP3. Italian Gianmaria Bruni went fastest, posting a 2:13.722 in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR.
The second-quickest time was set by Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford GT, who will be looking to make amends after his huge shunt at Raidillon last year. The Brit was just over two tenths slower than Bruni. The championship-leading #92 Porsche rounded out the top three in free practice, with Kévin Estre setting the car’s fastest lap at 2:14.264.
Guest starters G-Drive upset WEC teams in LMP2
Jean-Éric Vergne was the quickest man in LMP2 for the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 – Gibson. His time of 2:01.143, set in FP3, was six tenths quicker than the next-fastest driver, Will Stevens in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07.
Dempsey-Proton Racing recorded the two best times in GTE Am, with Matteo Cairoli going fastest in FP3 with a 2:15.190. His teammate Matt Campbell in the #77 machine was second-fastest and just two tenths slower than the Italian.
Images © WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk)