Toyota continued its strong start to the WEC Six Hours of Spa weekend by finishing half a second clear of Porsche at the top of the timesheets in Thursday’s second free practice.
Kamui Kobayashi turned in a fastest lap of 1:56.369 mid-way through the 90-minute session to complete a Thursday sweep for the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid crew.
Reduced to a two-man line-up following Jose Maria Lopez’s withdrawal due to injury, Kobayashi saw co-driver Mike Conway lead the way in FP1, edging out Porsche by just three-hundredths of a second.
Toyota’s lead was more comfortable in FP2 as Timo Bernhard lapped half a second slower in the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, posting his time within the first five minutes of the session.
Defending world champion Neel Jani was third-fastest in the sister No. 1 Porsche, 0.676 seconds off the pace, while Toyota’s No. 8 and No. 9 entries were fourth and fifth respectively.
CEFC Manor TRS Racing took a one-two in LMP2, with the fastest time coming courtesy of Jean-Eric Vergne in its No. 24 Oreca 07 Gibson.
The ex-Formula 1 driver posted a best lap of 2:02.662, finishing almost half a second clear of the No. 25 car. The No. 36 Signatech Alpine entry was the best of the rest, albeit over a second back from Vergne’s time in third place.
Marco Sorensen lifted Aston Martin Racing to the head of the field in GTE-Pro, posting a best lap of 2:16.458 late in the session in the No. 95 Vantage GTE.
Porsche had led the majority of FP2 through Kevin Estre despite the Frenchman’s session being cut short after a shunt at Les Combes that left him with extensive side damage, resulting in a red flag stoppage.
Estre’s lap was still good enough for P2 at the checkered flag, two-tenths off Sorensen’s time.
GTE-Am saw Miguel Molina lead for Spirit of Race in the No. 54 Ferrari 488 GTE, finishing 0.170 seconds clear of the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE in second place.
Following the incident involving Estre, the session was put under a red flag for a second time late on when the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion stopped at Turn 14. The car was ultimately able to return to the pits under its own power at a slow speed.
Free Practice 3 will get underway at 10:25 a.m. local time at Spa.
RESULTS: Free Practice 2