On Friday, Toyota GAZOO Racing flexed their muscles during the FIA World Endurance Championship’s two practice sessions on Silverstone Circuit’s Arena course. Kazuki Nakajima turned the fastest lap of the day with a lap of 98.210 seconds (134.198 mph).
Free Practice No. 1
Toyota showed their strength early in the day. The first session saw Sébastien Buemi turn in the fastest lap of the session with a time of 100.104 seconds (131.659 mph). Buemi’s lap was more than three-quarters of a second faster than Brendon Hartley in the No. 2 Porsche in second. Mike Conway was third quickest in the No. 7 Toyota, while Nick Tandy was fourth in the No. 1 Porsche. The best that the non-factory ByKolles entry could muster was 14th overall, 8.1 seconds of the pace.
In LMP2, Valliante Rebellion’s Mathias Beche was fastest with a lap of 105.913 seconds (124.438 mph) in the No. 13 ORECA 07-Gibson. Beche’s lap was a quarter of a second faster than TDS Racing’s Matthieu Vaxiviere. Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Alex Brundle was third fastest, followed by G-Drive Racing’s Roman Rusinov. Gustavo Menezes was fifth quickest in the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470-Gibson.
GTE-Pro saw a mix of manufacturers at the top of the charts. Aston Martin Racing’s Richie Stanaway was fastest with a lap of 119.110 seconds (110.651 mph). Stanaway’s best lap was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK’s Billy Johnson in second. Teammate Andy Priaulx was eight-thousandths of a second slower than Johnson in third. Porsche GT Team’s Frédéric Makowiecki and Kevin Estre rounded out the top five.
GTE-Am saw Aston Martin Racing’s Pedro Lamy atop the charts with a lap of 119.342 seconds (110.436 mph). The lap was second overall of the GTE cars. Lamy’s lap was nearly a full second quicker than Gulf Racing UK’s Ben Barker. Dempsey-Proton Racing’s Matteo Cairoli was third quickest, followed by Clearwater Racing’s Matt Griffin and Spirit of Race’s Miguel Molina. The top five cars in the class were separated by nearly three seconds.
Free Practice No. 2
The afternoon practice at Silverstone brought the team’s choices of aerodynamic packages into focus. WEC teams only have two packages for the season (high and low downforce). Toyota went with low downforce for Silverstone, while Porsche went with high downforce. The timesheets told the story.
Nakajima topped the charts with the fastest lap of the day, while teammate Kamui Kobayashi was second, just under a quarter of a second back. The fastest of the Porsches was Earl Bamber in the No. 2. He was nearly 2.3 seconds slower than Nakajima.
André Lotterer was fourth quickest in the No. 1, another seven-tenths of a second back. As for the ByKolles team, they made some progress in the session. Their best afternoon lap (set by James Rossiter) was three seconds quicker than in the morning, but still seven seconds off the leaders.
In LMP2, G-Drive Racing and part-time IMSA racer Alex Lynn was fastest with a lap of 104.874 seconds (125.671 mph). The lap was one-eighth of a second faster than Signatech Alpine Matmut’s Nicolas Lapierre. Beche was third quickest, followed by Brundle and Vaxiviere.
GTE-Pro saw Porsche GT Team’s Kevin Estre top the charts with a lap of 117.765 seconds (111.914 mph). That lap was two-tenths of a second faster than Aston Martin Racing’s Jonny Adam in the No. 97 Vantage. Nicki Thiim was right on Adam’s heels in the No. 95 Aston Martin. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK teammates Harry Tincknell and Stefan Mücke were fourth and fifth.
Finally, in GTE-Am, Barker was fastest in the Gulf Racing UK Porsche with a lap of 119.991 seconds (109.838 mph). Barker’s time was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than Francesco Castellacci in the Spirit of Race Ferrari. Cairoli was third fastest, followed by Lamy and Griffin.
World Endurance Championship teams will get one more shot at the Arena course Saturday morning at 9:40 a.m. local time (4:40 a.m. EDT) prior to qualifying. Qualifying will start at 8 a.m. EDT.
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