A dry Free Practice 3 at COTAWEC: Audi, ORECA, Aston and Ferrari on top
The third and final free practice session has now taken place, the last chance for the FIA World Endurance Championship’s competitors to finalise their cars’ set up before this afternoon’s qualifying sessions. With yesterday’s two practice sessions having been affected by rain, there will have been lots of work to do for some teams.
Audi Sport Team Joest continued to lead the way with the No.1 R18 e-tron quattro of Lotterer-Tréluyer-Fässler led the way in LMP1 with a best lap of 1:48.650 from André Lotterer, followed by the No.2 Audi of Kristensen-Duval-McNish 0.6s behind them – McNish posting the fastest lap of these three this morning. Closer behind the second Audi than in testing was the No.8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid of Davidson-Buemi-Sarrazin. The sole LMP1 Privateer entry of Rebellion Racing, the No.12 Lola-Toyota of Prost-Heidfeld-Beche posted a fastest lap of 1:53.053.
LMP2 was very close through much of the field, but it was the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 03 Nissan of Rusinov-Martin-Conway which topped the class with a fastest lap of 1:55.042, Conway setting the time. Only seven hundredths of a second behind them was the No.35 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan of Baguette-Gonzalez-Plowman, and third in class was the No.49 Pecom Racing ORECA 03 Nissan of Perez Companc-Minassian-Kaffer.
Aston Martin’s dominance in LMGTE Pro shows no signs of diminishing, but times in this class are also close. The No.98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Dalla Lana-Lamy-Stanaway edged its No.97 sister car by just two tenths of a second, Stanaway’s time of 2:04.272 narrowly beating that of Oliver Gavin, Aston Martin’s late signing to support Darren Turner and the injured Stefan Mücke. The No.92 Porsche AG Team Manthey of Marc Lieb-Richard Lietz was third in class, just one tenth behind the No.97.
In LMGTE Am, Ferrari shook up the order compared to the previous days of testing and practice and it was the No.81 8Star Motorsport 458 Italia of Potolicchio-Aguas-Malucelli which led the way with a fastest lap of 2:05.564. This was half a second ahead of the No.88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Ried-Roda-Ruberti, the German car behind only one tenth of a second ahead of the No.61 AF Corse Ferrari of Gerber-Griffin-Cioci.