Mike Conway Sets Pace for Toyota in FP1 at Silverstone
With track action well underway at Silverstone, it was Mike Conway and the #7 Toyota squad who came out on top at the end of the first free practice session.
Under a vaguely sunny sky (a rarity at Silverstone) the FIA World Endurance championship began its third round today - the 6 Hours of Silverstone. As expected, Toyota ran quickest in LMP1, though a mishap for one of the Rebellions did bring a red flag out during the session. Read on to find out what happened in each class, as well as a quick summary of the story so far.
The headlines may still be the same, but the LMP1 class will be slightly different this time out, following the unfortunate withdrawal of the CEFC TRSM Ginettas. Toyota remain unchallenged by the non-hybrid entries in the championship, but interestingly, in the World Endurance Drivers' Championship, the fourth-placed car is actually an LMP2 entry - Signatech Alpine, though expect this to change as we progress through the season!
For the session itself, it was the #7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria 'Pechito' Lopez which set the pace with a 1.39.916, just a few tenths clear of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi in the sister car. Best of the rest were the two Rebellions as we've come to expect, with the #3 crew outpacing the #1. It wasn't all smooth sailing for the #1 as Bruno Senna found himself in the barriers, bringing out a red flag - he has been sent to the medical centre for preliminary checks. SMP Racing took 5th and 6th, with Dragonspeed and ByKolles rounding out the class.
As we come into this round of the 2018-2019 Super Season, it's the Sigantech Alpine crew of Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Pierre Thiriet that lead the points table in LMP2 ahead of the 'Mighty 38' Jackie Chan DC Racing entry of Gabriel Aubry, Ho-Pin Tung and 2016 LMP2 champ, Stephane Richelmi. A single point behind the #38 is the sister car - the 'Fortune Cat 37' with it's all Malaysian lineup of Jazeman Jafaar, Weiron Tan and Nabil Jeffri.
At the end of FP1, however, it was TDS Racing who found themselves in the top spot. The 1.46:122 set by Mathieu Vaxiviere, Loic Duval and Francois Perrodo put the French team eight tenths clear of the 'Mighty 38' and the #36 Signatech Alpine.
The Porsche was the car to beat coming into the weekend - the German marque sits 46 points clear of nearest rivals Ford in the GTE Manufacturers Championship, with its #92 driver squad of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen topping the GTE Drivers Championship. With fresh BoP changes coming in after Le Mans, the hope was that the struggling Aston Martin would be able to compete on the same level as its peers. It should be noted that the Aston Martin driver line-ups have also changed somewhat since Spa (Le Mans is always a special case) and neither Darren Turner nor Johnny Adam will be present this weekend.
A story of pairs at the front of GTE Pro field as at the top of the pile are the two Ford Chip Ganassi entries, with the #66 crew of Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla finishing over half a second quicker than Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the #67. Behind them in third was the #91 Porsche of Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni. The Aston Martins finished 6th and 7th suggesting that the BoP may have helped, but perhaps not as much as hoped. Remember though, this is only practice!
With Porsche topping the overall GTE Manufacturers Championship, it should come as no surprise that a Porsche team is leading the GTE Am Teams FIA Endurance Trophy. The #77 Dempsey Proton Racing team have had a great start to the season amassing 51 points, leaving them 18 points clear of Clearwater Racing who sit second in the championship.
It was a Porsche top three in GTE Am, with the two Dempsey-Proton cars at the sharp end of the field. The #88 of Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli narrowly beating the sister #77 to the quickest time. Fresh off the ELMS free practice session was the car in third - the Gulf Racing team are running the same drivers in both the 4 Hours and 6 Hours of Silverstone this weekend!
Free practice two kicks off later this afternoon at 16.25.
This article was originally published on Overtake Motorsport.
Shared with permission from the author.
Cover Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing