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Toyotas Go 1-2 in Final Practice Session Before Qualifying

One-two for Toyota Hypercars in Spa FP3 as Kobayashi leads from Nakajima…

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima led a one-two for Toyota Gazoo Racing’s GR010 Hybrid Le Mans Hypercars in the final Free Practice session before qualifying for the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Spa.

Both Toyotas broke the 2m 03s barrier as Kobayashi set the fastest lap, a time of 2:02.516, aboard the No. 7 Toyota that he shares with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.

The Japanese manufacturer’s cars were separated by 0.350 seconds at the top of the FP3 order as Nakajima backed up Kobayashi’s time with a 2:02.868. Both of those attempts came early in a session that ran trouble-free under dry weather conditions.

It marked a noticeable improvement from Toyota, which previously stood on a 2:03.431 as its quickest time from this week’s Spa Free Practice and Prologue test sessions. 

United Autosports’ Filipe Albuquerque set the third-fastest lap and completed a sweep of the LMP2 category’s Free Practice times with a 2:03.761 in the No. 22 Oreca 07 Gibson.

This put the two Toyota LMH cars 1.2 seconds ahead of the rest of the field in the final session before qualifying on Friday evening.

Albuquerque was closely followed by the two G-Drive Racing Oreca-based Aurus LMP2s driven by Roberto Merhi, who placed fourth overall, and Nyck de Vries.

The top three LMP2 runners were sandwiched by Hypercars in the leaderboard, with the sitting Toyotas above and the Alpine A480 Gibson non-hybrid LMP1 car below.

Nicolas Lapierre registered a 2:04.110 for Alpine Endurance Team after his co-driver Andre Negrao led Free Practice 2 ealier in the day with a sub-2m 04s effort.

The TDS Racing-prepared Orecas from Realteam Racing and Racing Team Nederland finished seventh and eighth overall, ahead of Team WRT and PR1 Motorsports.

In GTE-Pro, Porsche replicated its FP1 result from Thursday by occupying the top two positions in the category’s timing charts.

Kevin Estre led the way on a 2:11.936, establishing the fastest GTE-Pro lap of Spa this week when factoring in the Prologue pre-season test held on Monday and Tuesday.

Estre came through seven-tenths clear of Richard Lietz in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR-19, while the two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evos were third and fourth.

The best Ferrari lap was a 2:13.202 from Miguel Molina, while the sole Chevrolet Corvette C8.R entered produced a 2:13.904 in the hands of Antonio Garcia.

Matteo Cairoli improved on his own fastest GTE-Am lap of the Spa week behind the wheel of the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche.

Cairoli had four-tenths in hand to Matt Campbell who was second for fellow Porsche entrant Dempsey-Proton Racing, while Alessio Rovera was third in an AF Corse Ferrari.

RESULTS: Free Practice 3

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

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