A sunny Spa-Francorchamps welcomed the first round of the 2018 – 2019 WEC Super Season from May 3rd to 5th. After the first day of action on Thursday which saw the WEC and the support series (Porsche Carrera Cup France & Benelux) first free practice sessions taking place, the final WEC practice session takes place on Friday morning.
After the first and second practice sessions dominated by Toyota, the third session sees the n°1 Rebellion taking the best lap time, still, the n°7 Toyota has the best overall time of the three sessions with Mike Conway and its 1’56’’172.
In the LMP2 category, two Oreca 07 – Gibson at the front : n°31 DragonSpeed is still at the top in front of the G-Drive Racing Team.
Ford Performance is still at the top of the time sheets in the LMGTE Pro category in front of the n°82 BMW M8 GTE of the BMW Team MTEK.
The Dempsey-Proton Racing Team and its Porsche 911 RSR is leading in the LMGTE Am class.
The serious things are going to start on Friday afternoon…
The LMP1/LMP2 and the GT cars have their own qualifying session each. Two drivers for each car have to set at least one lap time and the combination of the best lap of each driver gives the final time for the order on the gird.
15:01:01, green light for the LMGTE Pro & Am qualifying!
The gap is very little between the two Ford GTs of the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK but the n°67 takes the first place of its class in front of the sister car. Behind, the Porsche 911 RSR from the Porsche GT Team is not that far too, a good battle on the horizon.
In LMGTE Am, the Dempsey-Proton Racing Team confirms in front of the n°98 Aston Martin and n°56 Team Project 1 Porsche.
Now its time for the LMP1 & LMP2 cars!
Nicolas Lapierre clocks a time of 02’01’’476 and Pierre Thiriet a 02’03’’334 which makes them lead the LMP2 category in the Signatech Alpine in front of the G-Drive Racing Team (Oreca 07) and the n° 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Team (Oreca 07).
On the LMP1 side, there is a big gap between the two Toyotas and their competitors. The first Toyota (number 7) sets an average time of 01’54’’583, the number 8 is 0.379 off but will take the pole later in the day as the n°7 gets disqualified due to an “incorrect declaration of fuel flow meter”. On the second row, for their LMP1 return, we find two Rebellions R13, the n°1 gets a gap of 1.463s from the first Toyota. Fourth time for n°11 SMP Racing, then the ENSO CLM P1/01 of the ByKolles Racing is fifth.
Two red flags appeared during the qualifying session, n°17 car of Stéphane Sarrazin broke down on the track then Pietro Fittipaldi crashed violently at Raidillon and suffers from two broken legs.
The two Ginettas of the CEFC TRSM Racing Team didn’t appear in this qualifying session and for the rest of the weekend. Ginetta revealed in a release that the funds promised by the Chinese company TRS are not materialized on CEFC TRSM Racing bank account.
It’s race day and really crowded, the pitlane is very busy in the morning for the autographs session, especially in front of the Toyota garages with Fernando Alonso for its WEC debut. Later, it’s time for the drivers taking the start of the race to join the grid…
Green light and the n°8 Toyota is under pressure in the first corner from the two Rebellions and the n°11 SMP Racing, but it won’t last long as the Toyotas are really efficient. The number 8 will win the race and the number 7, after being able to join the race after the end of the first lap will finish second after a brilliant race from the Toyota Gazoo Racing.
The Rebellion n°1 finishes third with a brilliant race but got disqualified because of a car judged non-compliant after the race, sister car n°3 ended up completing the podium in the LMP1 category in front of the ByKolles Racing Team car.
In the LMP2 category, G-Drive Racing won in front of the Jackie Chan DC Racing and Alpine finishes third after getting a drive-through. During the race, Matevos Isaakyan in his n°17 BR1 has been fighting for the third place before seeing his car being airborne at Raidillon leading him to a terrible crash.
In the LMGTE Pro class, Pla, Mücke and Johnson won in their n°66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT after overtaking the n°91 Porsche in the last hour, n°91 which lead the category before loosing a lot of grip with its tires and finishing fourth. It also got overtaken by the n°92 Porsche (finishing second) and Davide Rigon in his Ferrari, in the last lap. N°67 Ford GT didn’t finish the race after a big crash at Raidillon.
In the LMGTE Am category, there were a lot of action too and Pedro Lamy kept its first place till the end in front of the n°90 TF Sport car by only 0.221s.