Toyota fastest – but only by an inch

Toyota Gazoo Racing started the FIA WEC season by being fastest in the first free practice at Spa Francorchamps.

It was a Toyota 1-2, with the #8 driven by Fernando Alonso, ahead of the #7, but Rebellion Racing #3 was less than half a second slower.

DragonSpeed #10 was the fastest BR1 Engineering car, while SMP Racing had a few technical issues, with them only being able to run 9 and 11 laps. DragonSpeed #10 was also less than a second away from Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Things didn’t look so well in CEFC TRSM Racing land. The two Ginetta cars were only able to do a single installation lap during the practice session, before they disappeared into the garage again.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #8
Photo: JJ Media

In LMP2 we had DragonSpeed #31 with their ORECA 07 Gibson fastest, with quite a nice gap to Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 and G-Drive Racing #26 in the following positions. It was Pastor Maldonado doing the excellent time for the DragonSpeed team, so the Venezuelan driver has once again proved his speed, and now only needs to prove that he can do constant lap times during all the stints that he is required to do in the race.

While the first 7 LMP2 cars only were split by 1,2 seconds, there was a non surprising gap of 3 seconds to Larbre Competition. The French outfit doesn’t have a Gold or Platinum ranked driver in their line-up, but only two bronze drivers and a silver. So it was expected that they would be the slowest in the LMP2 category this year.

DragonSpeed #31
Photo: JJ Media

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK had a 1-2 ahead of both Porsche GT cars. They were followed by a mix of AF Corse Ferrari and BMW Team MTEK, while Aston Martin closed the GTE Pro category, almost 3 seconds slower than Ford. There have been a lot of games going on in the GTE Pro category, to not show the full potential of the car prior to Le Mans – but 3,2 seconds between the fastest and slowest car is a lot – especially when half the field is more than one and a half seconds slower than Ford. But it could be Ford going flat out on low fuel, while others were focusing on race pace.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 & BMW Team MTEK #81
Photo: JJ Media

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 destroyed the rest of the class by almost a full second, before the three other Porsche cars #86, #77 and #56 followed. 1,7 seconds to the first TF Sport Aston Martin #90, while Ferrari closed the field by being 2,5 between and 3,5 seconds slower than Porsche

Proton Competition Porsche #88
Photo: JJ Media

But let’s see how it develops during the weekend. There is still a lot of time to be found by all the teams.

The second Free Practice will be run today at 16.30 CET.

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