FIA World Endurance Championship teams got a long day at the office, and it wasn’t even their fault.
The first round of the year was run at Silverstone, where FIA WEC shares the track with European Le Mans Series, who drives their fourth round. There was unfortunately an accident in their first free practice that demanded so much repair of the barriers, that the first practice for the WEC cars got delayed by twenty minutes.
Since the ELMS teams didn’t get much practice this weekend, it got decided that they would have an extra half hour on Friday afternoon, which then pushed the second WEC’s practice with thirty minutes. So, they were finished half an hour later than they should.
But the FIA WEC field pretty much behaved. Although the race director got busy handing out penalties for Track Limits in FP2 – but if it was what it takes for the drivers to learn it the hard way, before the qualifying and race.
There was a bit of a surprise in the first free practice, when Rebellion Racing #1 with Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato was fastest, ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 and #7, with Sebastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima/Brendon Hartley and Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez respectively. Toyota, however, fixed it by clean sweep in FP2, where #7 was the fastest, followed by #8 and #1.
Team LNT was the two slowest cars in LMP1, both in FP1 and FP2, but #5 had a lot of electrical problems to deal with. The car wouldn’t downshift, as well as a problem with data transfer to FIA, who should be able to monitor the fuel usage while the car was out on the track. So it cost them a big chunk of FP2. But when they ran, they weren’t far from Rebellion – but they were unfortunately behind.
In the LMP2 category, United Autosports #22 dominated the race – yes, not only in WEC, but also in ELMS. In fact, #22 with Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Paul Di Resta was the fastest in both LMP2 practices today – both in WEC and ELMS. Cool Racing #42 was second fastest with Nicolas Lapierre, Antonin Borga and Alexandre Coigny in FP1, while Racing Team Nederland #29 with Frits van Eerd, Giedo van der Garde and Job van Uitert was third fastest.
UA #22 as previously mentioned, was also the fastest in FP2, followed by Danish team High Class Racing #33, with a time set by Kenta Yamashita, in the car that he shares with Mark Patterson and Anders Fjordbach. It didn’t take long for the young Japanese to get adjusted to the car, and nonetheless, the track. Racing Team Nederland #29 was also the third fastest in FP2. High Class Racing #33 was P7 in FP1.
In the GTE Pro class, Porsche #91 with Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz topped the first free practice, ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #51 with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, and Aston Martin Racing #95 with Nicki Thiim og Marco Sørensen. The result only marginally changed in FP2, where #51 was fastest in front #91, while AF Corse Ferrari #71 with Miguel Molina and Davide Rigon was third.
Aston Martin totally dominated both FP1 and FP2 in GTE Am. TF Sport #90 with Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam was fastest in the first session, followed by Aston Martin Racing #98 with Paul Dalla Lana, and his teammates Ross Gunn and Darren Turner. MR Racing Ferrari #70 with Motoaki Ishikawa, Olivier Beretta and a late call up to Kei Cozzolino, who replaced Eddie Cheever III, finished in P3 in FP1. In FP2 it was #98 in front of #90, while AF Corse Ferrari #83 with Nicklas Nielsen, Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard was the third fastest GTE Am car.
David Heinemeier Hansson should have driven in GTE Am class, where he would share the car with Egidio Perfetti and Matteo Cairoli in Team Project 1 Porsche #56. But DHH wasn’t there in the free practice since his wife is heavily pregnant and can give birth any time. It’s still unclear whether he will be ready to jump in the car on Saturday, or if he would have to skip the entire Silverstone weekend. Instead, he got replaced by David Kolkmann in the free practice, who would also drive in the race if DHH wasn’t ready.
A small incident occured in GTE Am in FP1 when Red River Sport Ferrari #62 and AF Corse Ferrari #54 had a collision. It damaged both cars, and while #54 could limp back to the pits, it wasnt’t the case for #62 that must be transported back to the pits. The Red River Sport car is also run by AF Corse, so we wonder if there would be some tension in the garage during lunch break?
There will be another practice on Saturday, as well as the qualifying for the four-hour race, that will be run on Sunday afternoon.