Preparation work for the Porsche LMP Team has gone according to plan. In the first two free practice sessions ahead of the six-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (BE), drivers Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) came second. The sister Porsche 919 Hybrid that is shared by reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB), was third in both sessions. Despite occasional very light rain showers, both 90-minute sessions on the 7.004- kilometre long track in the Ardennes mountains were held in dry conditions.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing completed a busy and positive first day by setting the fastest lap time in practice. Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi will share the #7 car alone this weekend due to the absence of José María López, who is recovering from his Silverstone accident. They set the fastest time in both 90-minute practice sessions.
“It was a good first day in Spa,” commented Brendon Hartley. “It looks very tight with Toyota again and we are still working to find those extra tenths.”
Timo Bernhard recorded the fastest lap for a Porsche 919 Hybrid today in 1:56.874 minutes. For comparison, in 2016 Brendon Hartley achieved the best time on day one of 1:58.012 minutes. This means the current lap time is more than one second below last year’s level, although the 2017 regulations have implemented significant aerodynamic restrictions. Just as it was the case a year ago, Porsche competes in Spa using a low downforce aero kit that has been developed for Le Mans. The race in Spa acts as a kind of dress rehearsal for the 24-hour classic in June.
The qualifying for the Le Mans prototypes will be tomorrow (Friday), from 15:25-15:50 hrs (local time). The six-hour race gets underway on Saturday at 14:30 hrs (local time). Here is the international TV broadcasting plan: https://tinyurl.com/m9dn3k5