Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap in his maiden FIA World Endurance Championship session at Spa-Francorchamps, in preparation for Saturday’s Total Six Hours of Spa.
The two-time Formula One world champion posted a time of 1:58.392 midway through the 90-minute Free Practice 1 on Thursday to give Toyota the early edge in LMP1.
Alonso’s teammate Sebastien Buemi set the initial pace with a 1:59.072, but that was soon bested by the Spaniard shortly after he took over the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.
Alonso first went quickest after turning in a 1:58.491 but continued to improve and shaved that number down by a tenth during his 16-lap stint behind the wheel.
Toyota’s sister No. 7 car was second quickest, with Mike Conway clocking in 0.237 seconds behind.
The No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson of Thomas Laurent was the quickest non-hybrid, having set a time of 1:58.849 that was nearly a half-second off the ultimate pace.
Ben Hanley seated DragonSpeed fourth, albeit nine-tenths off Alonso, with Bruno Senna completing the top-five in the sister Rebellion.
Both of the Manor-run Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Mecachromes completed only a single installation lap each in the session, which passed without any stoppages or major incidents.
In LMP2, Pastor Maldonado led the class in DragonSpeed’s Oreca 07 Gibson.
The ex-Formula One driver, who also topped the timesheets at the Prologue, went quickest with a 2:03.494 that came early in the session.
Maldonado’s run established a gap of seven tenths between himself and Andre Negrao in the second-placed Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson.
Ford on Top in GTE-Pro
Ford ran one-two in GTE-Pro as Andy Priaulx claimed the fastest lap in class for the Chip Ganassi-run squad.
Priaulx’s early benchmark of 2:15.014 held out until the end despite improvements from the cars behind.
Olivier Pla jumped up to third in the other Ford GT with a time that was two tenths shy of the Briton’s pace, but enough to edge out the two Porsche 911 RSRs that finished third and fourth.
Defending class world champion James Calado completed the class top five in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, while the fastest MTEK-run BMW M8 GTE finished sixth, more than a second off Priaulx’s effort.
Matteo Cairoli commanded the order in GTE-Am with a 2:16.601 that would have placed the No. 88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR sixth in the all-professional category.
The next-best Am time was a 2:18.006 submitted by Matt Campbell in the sister Proton entry.
A second 90-minute practice session is set for 4:25 p.m. local time.
RESULTS: Free Practice 1