Porsche has shown the early pace at Spa-Francorchamps, at least in wet conditions, with its LMP1 contenders topping the time charts in both of Thursday’s rain-soaked Free Practice sessions.
The No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Earl Bamber was quickest in the 90-minute afternoon session, although his 2:25.495 lap was nearly 10 seconds slower than Marc Lieb’s pace-setting time from the first session.
Conditions worsened in the late afternoon, with only 28 of the 34 cars turning laps, and hardly any of those cars making improvements.
Anthony Davidson’s 2:17.117 lap from FP1 held as second quickest of the day, followed by the No. 17 Porsche of Brendon Hartley in third.
Neither the No. 1 Toyota nor the No. 8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, which were involved in a heavy accident in opening practice, set times, with both cars still undergoing repairs, including an all new tub for the Toyota.
Strakka Racing led the way in LMP2, with the Michelin-shod Dome S103 Nissan excelling in the wet conditions.
Jonny Kane’s 2:32.672 lap, also set in FP1, was more than 1.2 seconds clear of the No. 38 Jota Sport Gibson 015S Nissan of Harry Tincknell, who was second.
The No. 28 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Pipo Derani made it three different manufacturers in the top-three in class.
GTE-Pro saw Porsche Team Manthey end the day 1-2, with Kevin Estre, on his factory debut, reeling off a 2:36.065 in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR.
It was 0.601 seconds quicker than teammate Fred Makowiecki, who narrowly edged out defending class champion Gianmaria Bruni, who was third in his No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia.
Klaus Bachler made it a Porsche sweep of the day, with the Austrian taking his Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche to a 2:39.885 lap time.
Rain is again in the forecast for tomorrow, although Saturday’s Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (8:30 a.m. ET, Live! FOX Sports 1) is expected to be dry.