The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 topped the time sheets in both of the first two free practice sessions for Saturday’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Mike Conway was the fastest man in FP1, while Kamui Kobyashi posted the fastest lap in the second 90-minute session.
Toyota travelled to Belgium with both its high- and low-downforce packages, running the standard high-downforce aero on the #7 and #8 machines but the low-drag Le Mans bodywork on the #9 car, which is only set to race this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps and at Le Mans in June.
Toyota’s strong pace was matched by the pair of factory Porsche LMP1s, with Brendon Hartley only 0.036 seconds down on Conway’s quickest time of 1:57.940 in FP1. Both Porsche 919 Hybrids are also running in low-downforce spec in the Ardennes this weekend.
In LMP2, Jean-Eric Vergne posted the quickest time of the day in FP2 for CEFC Manor TRS Racing, a 2:02.662. Vitali Petrov in the sister car was the second fastest of the day’s three hours of running, but trailed his teammate by just under half a second. In fact, Vergne’s time was over a second quicker than Manor’s closest competitors, Signatech-Alpine, with Gustavo Menezes setting his fastest lap of 2:03.722 seconds in the second session.
In GTE Pro, Marco Sørensen was the fastest man in the field, posting the quickest lap of 2:16.458 in FP2. Frenchman Kévin Estre was second quickest, but he caused the second session to be red-flagged after a shunt at the end of the Kemmel Straight. Andy Priaulx’s fastest time from free practice 1, a 2:16.802, was good enough for third on the time sheets for the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK.
Miguel Molina, whose incident on the final lap of the last month’s 6 Hours of Silverstone arguably cost his #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 team a podium finish, went quickest in GTE Am with a 2:17.806 lap in FP2. However, the #98 Aston Martin Racing car of was just one tenth behind, with the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche rounding out the top three overall on day one.
Images (c) WEC-Magazin / Walter Schruff