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Toyota 1-2 on Thursday

Conway leads the way in red flag-affected second practice session…

Photo: MPS Agency

Toyota secured the two quickest free practice times on Thursday for the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Mike Conway’s time of 1:56.172 behind the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid improved on Fernando Alonso’s FP1 marker by 1.8 seconds.

The Briton was backed up by a 1:56.815 effort from Kazuki Nakajima in the sister car, which also came during Thursday afternoon’s second 90-minute run.

Two-time Formula One world champion Alonso completed 14 laps in FP2 and registered a best time of 1:57.096.

Fastest of the LMP1 non-hybrid contingent was the DragonSpeed-entered BR Engineering BR1 Gibson which ended the day 2.663 seconds adrift of the best Toyota.

Pietro Fittipaldi was behind the wheel for that car’s fastest lap, out-pacing both entries from Rebellion Racing and SMP Racing.

The DragonSpeed driver’s time was seven seconds quicker than the best LMP1 non-hybrid lap in qualifying for last year’s race.

Friday’s second session was interrupted by two brief red flag periods, the first for the No. 17 SMP BR1, which stopped on track at Stavelot and the second for the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, which had an off-track moment in the hands of Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Both Manor-run Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Mecachromes only completed installation laps in both sessions before returning to their garages for the duration.

In LMP2, Pastor Maldonado led both sessions in the DragonSpeed Oreca 07 Gibson shared with Nathanael Berthon and Roberto Gonzalez.

Maldonado shaved down his FP1 benchmark by half a second to end the day fastest with a time of 2:02.991.

Second in class was the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca, while the No. 26 TDS-supported G-Drive Racing Oreca ended the day third.

Ford Paces GTE-Pro

Ford staged a 1-2 of its own in the GTE-Pro category, with Stefan Muecke establishing almost one-second between himself and the next-best entry in class.

Pla’s 2:13:773 built a bridge of nine-tenths to the Porsche 911 RSR driven by Gianmaria Bruni in second, with the sister Ford GT slotting into third.

Ford’s first and third in FP2 consolidated the Chip Ganassi squad’s one-two during the opening session.

The No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR of Ben Barker was quickest in GTE-Am, eclipsing Matteo Cairoli’s previous best in the No. 88 Proton Porsche by half a second.

A third free practice session is booked for Saturday morning at 11 a.m. local time, before qualifying at 3 p.m.

RESULTS: Free Practice 2

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.


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