Toyota finds pace in FP3, Porsche still on top in GTE Pro

Toyota Gazoo Racing finally demonstrated some of its true pace at Spa-Francorchamps, topping the time sheets in the third of three free practice sessions for Saturday’s six-hour race.

The reigning champions in the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid posted a session best of 2:02.518. The time, posted by Kamui Kobayashi, was just three tenths ahead of Kazuki Nakajima’s best effort in the sister #8 car, which was enough for P2 in the session.

The third car in the LMH category, the #36 Alpine Elf Matmut machine, finished the session sixth-fastest overall with a 2:04.110. This came after the French outfit went quickest in FP2 and posted the fastest LMH time in FP1.

The #22 United Autosports Oreca made it a clean sweep in free practice for the US squad. Felipe Albuquerque was once again the fastest man in class in FP3 with a 2:03.761, but was unable to better his FP2 time of 2:03.733.

Second-fastest in LMP2 over the three sessions was Roberto Merhi’s FP3 time in the #25 G-Drive Racing Aurus 01, followed by Nick de Vries’ FP2 effort of 2:03.979 in the sister #26 car.

Further improvements in GTE Pro

All five GTE Pro posted their fastest times of the weekend so far in FP3 as the Spa-Francorchamps circuit began to rubber in. What had been a relatively tight class in FP1 and FP2 was blown apart in FP3 with Kévin Estre’s 2:11.936 for the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19. The Frenchman’s time was a full seven tenths quicker than Richard Lietz in the sister #91 car, and over a second faster than Porsche’s nearest challengers.

Third fastest was Spaniard Miguel Molina (2:13.202) in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO, with Alessandrio Pier Guidi fourth quickest with a 2:13.325. The #63 Corvette Racing C8.R was sixth-fastest in GTE overall with a 2:13.904.

Porsche continued its supremacy in GTE Am, too. The German marque topped all three sessions with the fastest overall FP time going to Matteo Cairoli in the #56 Team Project 1 car (2:13.515).

However, Alessio Rovera in the #83 AF Corse Ferrari showed that Porsche will have a battle on their hands this weekend. The Italian, making his WEC debut, was third-fastest overall across the three sessions with a 2:14.099 posted in FP3.

Click here for a full rundown of FP2 times and here for FP3 times.