The morning dawned damp after heavy overnight rain, but fortunately the skies did not look threatening as the 35 cars entered for the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps took to the track for the first of two 120-minute practice sessions. Nevertheless, the track was declared ‘wet’ by Race Director Eduardo Freitas and caution was advised. As the session progressed a dry line appeared and lap times began to fall in all classes.
Audi continued at the Spa circuit where they left off at Silverstone and ended the session in the first three positions ahead of the first Toyota TS030. André Lotterer led the way in the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with a fastest lap of 2:01.917 – the only driver to dip under the 2:02 mark – and was followed by Allan McNish in the No.2 Audi. His time of 2:02.312 was just two hundredths of a second faster than Lucas di Grassi’s best lap in the No.3 car, this one running the new long-tail aero package.
Five tenths of a second behind the Brazilian was the first Toyota, the No.7 having set a time of 2:02.856, less than one tenth of a second in front of the first of the LMP1 Privateer teams, the Toyota-engined Rebellion Racing Lola. Nick Heidfeld used his former F1 experience to good advantage and lapped the 7km track in his No.12 Lola B12/60 Coupe to place him two tenths of a second ahead of the second Toyota and almost three seconds ahead of the No.21 Strakka Racing HPD ARX 03c.
In LMP2 Nissan-powered cars claimed the first five places, with the No.24 OAK Racing Morgan of Olivier Pla leading the charge. His best time of 2:10.318 was two tenths of a second faster than the first of three ORECA 03 chassis which followed – the No.26 G-Drive Racing, No.49 Pecom Racing and No.25 Delta-ADR cars all being separated by just four tenths of a second. The class once again promises to provide some fascinating competitive battles and is proving to be a great showcase for rising sportscar talents.
Although both Aston Martin and Porsche topped the classification at different times during the session, it was an AF Corse Ferrari 1-2 at the end of the session, Toni Vilander in the No.71 edging his Italian team mate in the No.51 by four tenths of a second. The Finnish driver set a fastest time of 2:20.396. Bruni’s time was 2:20.797 was two tenths ahead of the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 and three tenths ahead of the first of the Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSRs.
Ferrari also prevailed in LMGTE Am, the No.61 AF Corse 458 Italia of Gerber-Griffin-Cioci setting a best lap of 2:22.890, over half a second in front of the No.96 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Goethe-Hall-Campbell-Walter. The British car was, in turn, another half a second ahead of the No.81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari and the first of the Am category Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, the No.76 IMSA Performance Matmut car.
A second two-hour practice session will take place this afternoon beginning at 14:30 hours.