Toyota #8 Take Second Victory in an action-packed race that saw over 61,000 spectators attend Spa-Francorchamps over the weekend for the second round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship, Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 driven by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took a narrow victory ahead of the sister car, scoring the first Toyota one-two since 2014. Two full course yellows played with the luck of the race that gave Toyota #8 the win after what they admitted should have been victory for the #7 crew. LMP2 saw a tight battle throughout the race but it was pole-sitters #26 G-Drive Racing who converted the race victory that they failed to do in Silverstone.

LM GTE Pro was tightly fought between Ferrari and Ford at the start of the race, but ultimately the 488 GTEs had the pace advantage this weekend. An inter-team battle stemmed between the #71 and #51 AF Corse crews for the majority of the race, ending with advantage going to Sam Bird and Davide Rigon. LM GTE Am was dominated for the duration of the race by the #98 Aston Martin Racing entrant. They had no competition as they drove to an easy victory, even after picking up a time penalty during their pit stop for an infringement on the grid.

Off the start, Andre Lotterer was pressured to protect his pole position as two of the Toyotas ran side by side with him towards La Source. Locking up his breaks, Nicolas Lapierre shot the #9 Toyota straight off into the run off on the outside of the circuit and took the car out of the lead fight. Porsche #2 benefited the most out of the front-runners at the start as Brendon Hartley managed to get it up to second and start chasing down Toyota #8.

There were two Full Course Yellows during the six-hour event that played with the fortunes of those up and down the grid. The first one came from the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche pulling up and stopping on the start finish race. The #86 had had a troubled race from the start, with consistent abuses to track limits the team picked up multiple time penalties in their pit stops for their offences. There seemed to be damage on the car already when it bumped the rear of on of the Fords coming through Bus Stop, from what is unknown, but there was some sort of debris on the kerb of the chicane that caused the #86 to spin. After looking like it would be good to get going again it shuddered to a halt next to the pit wall where it retired from the race. The #7 Toyota had just taken their scheduled pit stop when the Full Course Yellow came out, meaning that the other three LMP1 cars gained a time advantage on them when they took their stops under the Full Course Yellows. This unlucky fate also befell the #7 during the second Full Course Yellow. The cause of the second full caution was the #28 TDS Racing LMP2 car going straight on at Courbe Paul Frère and heavily into the tyre barrier. Luckily for the LMP2 team, the car was able to get back to the pits after it was pushed out of the tyre barrier and simply needed a front nose replacement to carry on. However, for Toyota #7, once again the Full Course Yellow came at the wrong point in their pit strategy and lost them time against their competitors.

It was a close race to the line at the end in LMP1. Kamui Kobayashi was pushing hard in the #7 Toyota to close down a four second gap to the sister car that was leading ahead. All of the LMP1 cars had had to stop for a ‘splash and dash’ in the last fifteen minutes of the race so the victory fight was between Toyota. Kobayashi came so close, but traffic in the final lap saw the Japanese driver almost take himself out of the race. He finished second to the #7 by just under two seconds, when one point in the last couple of laps the gap had been seven tenths. Porsche #2 completed the podium twenty-six seconds down the road after a slow puncture had lost them time earlier on in the race. Hartley had a moment in the final stint where contact was made with the #36 Signatech Alpine LMP2 car that is being investigated after the race. The Kiwi driver was trying to overtake the traffic of the #36 and committed to a move on the inside of the corner. It appeared Hartley noticed he would not be able to make the move as the #36 was not going to leave him enough room, so he hit the brakes, locking them in the process. Unfortunately, the #2 Porsche clipped the back of the #36 Signatech Alpine and spun it around.

It was a great race for the #4 ByKolles. Making it to the chequered flag and encountering no issues through the race, the team ran competitively above the LMP2 field, lapping about a second a lap quicker. They finished a strong sixth which was not expected after they qualified eleventh. Alex Lynn spent most of the race on board the race-winning #26 G-Drive Racing car. The car was competitively paced throughout the race, and although there were swaps of the lead throughout the race the team always looked to be the strongest on track. Lynn had a comfortable lead advantage at the end of the race that allowed him to know that he would not be under any threat for the lead. Second place was a closer battle as the chequered flag approached as the #31 Vaillante Rebellion and the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing cars where split by a few seconds. But as hard as Ho-Pin Tung pushed he could not close the gap to knock the Rebellion out of second place. Sam Bird made the move that spurred the inter-team battle in AF Corse in the Pro class. Whilst the #51 was lining up to pass the struggling #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK for the lead just before the halfway mark, Bird used the tow from the sister car to follow it through when it made the pass on the Ford. Having extra momentum, Bird pulled the #71 Ferrari ahead of the #51. But a Toyota that had been passing through traffic did not leave enough room for Bird to comfortably pull ahead. A few corners of jostling between the two 488 GTE Ferraris saw Bird’s bold move come out victorious as he took the lead of the class. The battling between the two Ferrari continued until the end of the race but with fifteen minutes until chequered flag, Bird had built up a twenty second lead meaning that the #51 had no chance of stealing the win at the line. The #66 Ford finished off the podium in a class that finished two by two through manufacturers. Porsche left Aston Martin to take the last two places in the LM GTE Pro class.

In a complete reverse fortune; Aston Martin Racing completely dominated the Am class, not once giving up the lead to another car. The team were handed a time penalty to take in their pit stop due to a broken rule during the start procedure. Even after they took this they were still competitively ahead of the rest of the field and cruised to an easy victory. The #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche also appeared to have a fairly straightforward race. After a little period of battling on track and recovering from time lost in pit stops Christian Reid and Matteo Carioli had an easy race to take second in Am. The #61 Clearwater Ferrari made it three different manufacturers on the Am grid again by securing third. There was a brief fight between the two Ferrari-running teams for third until around the halfway mark of the race but after this the final order seemed to establish itself. The day was warm and sunny at the start of the race, but the potential rain that was predicted did not fall as heavily as it needed to to make a strong impact on the race. The #8 crew had ‘”mixed feelings” about their victory, saying that all the luck had come to them today and that the #7 had had the quicker pace all weekend. This was a sentiment that the Porsche #2 crew echoed; suggesting that the podium all believed it should have been Conway and Kobayashi on the top step. Had there have been a couple of laps more, they very well could have been.

Having topped the time sheets in all three Free Practice sessions, everyone’s money was on Toyota to take pole position at the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps. But in a session that was interrupted by a red flag, it was the #1 Porsche 919 of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy that took pole position with an average lap time of 1:54.097.

This is Lotterer’s first pole position with the 919. “Neel did an amazing lap, for me it was smooth, conservative, I didn’t realise there was so much grip, it’s cool that my fastest lap was quicker than by best lap in F1 here,” Lotterer said. “I didn’t think we’d beat the Toyotas as they’ve looked strong all week. The first job is done, the next step is to win the race tomorrow.” Toyota took second, third and fourth on the grid with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway setting the best lap time of the three with a 1:54.693. It could be argued that Toyota could have made pole position if the session had not been red flagged. They also had laps removed for track limits. Brendon Hartley made an uncharacteristic error at the Bus Stop, locking the brakes and going straight off circuit on his flying lap. Hartley and Bernhard were unable to recover and could only manage a best average time of 1:55.440.

G-Drive Racing took pole position in LMP2, their second of the season which saw championship new comer Alex Lynn post a time of 2:01.253. That time was quicker than the pole position time set by Allan McNish in the #2 Audi R18 in its first race at Spa. With Pierre Thiriet’s lap time taken into account, the pair averaged a time of 2:02.601. Matt Rao and Gustavo Menezes took second place in the #36 with a time of 2:02.624, just 5000ths of a second quicker than the sister #35 car. The #24 Manor and #13 Vaillante Rebellion rounded out the top five in a qualifying session where the top five were split by just a second, incredibly, the top four were just 0.031 seconds apart. The session was red flagged part way through with Vitaly Petrov crashing the #25 Manor at turn nine on his first hot lap. Petrov lost the rear of the car under braking and slammed in to the tyre wall side on, damaging the right side of the car.

In GTE Pro, Davide Rigon and Sam Bird topped the time sheets with a 2:15.017 in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488, the pair were half a second quicker than the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK GT with Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla posting a 2:15.418. Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell were just a tenth behind, qualifying the Silverstone winning #67 car in third. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Calado and Pier Guidi took fourth with the #91 Porsche rounding out the top five. Aston Martin will start on pole position in GTE Am, Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy securing the 46th class pole for Aston Martin in the #98 Vantage. Lamy put in a late lap to post an average time of 2:18.659 and take pole position ahead of the #77 Porsche and #54 Ferrari. The top 3 in GTE Am were split by exactly a second.

Kazuki Nakajima topped the final practice session with a time of 1:55.233 in a Toyota 1-2-3, the #8 car just edging the #7 by 0.005 seconds. Porsche took fourth and fifth with Andre Lotterer posting the best time in the #1 with a 1:56.404 early on in the session. In LMP2, Alex Lynn topped the times with a 2:01.708 in the #26 G-Drive Oreca 07. Notable incidents in the session included the #13 Rebellion losing a front left wheel and the #38 DR Racing Oreca hitting the #61 Clear Water Racing Ferrari. AF Corse took a 1-2 finish in GTE Pro, the #71 Ferrari of Pier Guidi setting the best time of 2:14.904; Sam Bird and Davide Rigon were just two tenths back with a time of 2:15.1. The #67 Ford took third whilst the #95 Aston Martin which had shown early promise in FP2 came home last. Matteo Carol topped the time sheets in the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche, setting the fourth quickest time overall across both GTE classes. The #98 Aston was second and the #61 Ferrari third.

30 cars will take the gird this weekend at Spa Francorchamps, an additional entry from Toyota boosting the LMP1 grid whilst the 35 Signatech Alpine returns to the championship after missing Silverstone and Tockwith Motorsport make their WEC debut and the WEC debut of the Ligier JSP217. There is a possibility that more races may be on the horizon later in the season for the team.

Mike Conway set the pace early on in Free Practice One at Spa Francorchamps, posting a time of 1:57.940 in the #7 Toyota TSO50 Hybrid. Conway will be racing the #7 alongside Kamui Kobayashi this weekend after the FIA Medical Delegate and Toyota’s own doctor agreed that Jose Maria Lopez was not medically fit enough to drive. Lopez suffered minor damage to two vertebrae after crashing in the opening race of the season at Silverstone three weeks ago. Whilst Lopez himself admits he is disappointed to be missing the race, the teams focus is on making sure he is fit enough to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans in just six weeks time.

“I’m extremely disappointed to miss this weekend’s race as I was really looking forward to driving the TS050 HYBRID at Spa,” said López. “I feel basically fine but we all agree that we should take no chances; the priority is to be absolutely fit for Le Mans. Probably I could race if we were at a different track but a driver’s body experiences extreme forces through Eau Rouge so, after discussions with the FIA Medical Delegate and our team doctor, we decided I should not drive this weekend.”

The lap times were reassuringly close throughout the first practice session, Mike Conway’s quickest time was just 0.036 seconds quicker than the #2 Porsche and only 0.1 MPH quicker through the speed traps at 213.8 miles an hour. The #8 and #9 Toyotas took fourth and fifth on the timing screens, the #9 car running the low drag Le Mans aero kit posting a time of 1:59.633.

In LMP2, Gustavo Menezes topped the time sheets in the #36 Signatech Alpine with a time of 2:04.171, the #26 G Drive of Alex Lynn, Roman Rusinov and Piere Thiriet was just a tenth behind.Championship new comer Tockwith Motorsport set a time of 2:06.607 with the Ligier JSP217. The team are making a one off appearance, moving over from the ELMS before competing at Le Mans later in the year.

In GTE-Pro, the championship leading Ford GT of Priaulx, Tinknall and Derani topped the time sheets, fresh off the back of a win at Silverstone, the trio will be looking to take another victory this weekend at Spa. The competition at the top of GTE-Pro was close however, the top three (#67, #91, #66) were split by just four tenths of a second. Ferrari took fifth and sixth in class, the #71 leading the #51 whilst Aston Martin took seventh and eighth.

Porsche topped the time sheets in GTE-Am, the Dempsey Proton Racing car going seven tenths quicker than the #86 Gulf Racing car. The Clearwater Ferrari was the best of the rest, finishing third ahead of the Aston Martin and Spirit of Race Ferrari 488.

For the first race of the 2017 World Endurance Championship, Toyota Gazoo Racing remained on the form they had displayed throughout the weekend to take home victory from the 6 Hours of Silverstone. The #8 crew of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi, and Kazuki Nakajima led most of the six-hour endurance race and only had to fight for position in the closing stages. LMP2 continued to show a mixed field with the pace of all of the cars being very similar throughout the class. It was the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing team that came out on top as the chequered flag fell. After a trouble-filled race that saw them having to pit early, Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx brought a surprise victory to the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK car whilst a last lap incident saw the #98 Aston Martin Racing LM GTE Am car lose the class victory to the #61 Clearwater Racing team.

At the start of the race it looked like it was going to be easy for Toyota to secure a one-two at the chequered flag. Although Porsche was setting consistent lap times to the pace the Toyota duo were setting the Japanese team had managed to pull out a lead from the line that Porsche were struggling to close down. But it was not plain sailing for the Toyota team as mixed weather conditions brought Porsche right into the field of play.

For the first three hours there was nothing Porsche could do to catch up to the front-runners. Both teams – Porsche and Toyota – had an inter-team order switch within the first few laps with Brendon Hartley passing Neel Jani for third and Buemi getting ahead of his teammates in the sister car. It was around the halfway mark when the rain started to fall that Porsche looked to have an opportunity.

It first came in the form of pit stops. With timing giving the advantage to Porsche, both the Porsche 919 Hybrids pitted as the rain began to fall, meaning they were in prime position to pass Davidson in the #8 who was struggling on the dry weather tyres. Bernhard and Nick Tandy took on the slicktermediates during their driver change pit stops and passed the struggling Toyota easily on track, dropping Toyota to third on the grid.

The #7 Toyota had suffered issues during the first half that had seen it travelling slowly and falling to fourth on track, but the day got worse for the second Toyota Hybrid. Losing brakes, Jose Maria Lopez had a fast speed crash going straight into the tyre barriers at Copse Corner. Luckily the driver was alright but the car lost an hour and a half after it limped back to the pits and brought out a Full Course Yellows which eventually turned into a safety car due to the debris Lopez scattered across the track. This took the #7 completely out of contention and the battle for the lead between #8 Toyota and #2 Porsche.

Race starters Hartley and Buemi were back in the cars for the closing stages of the race. Having double stinted the tyres at the end of the race and completing a short, fuel-only stop at the end, Hartley returned on track with an eight-second lead, something Toyota did not expect. An incredible drive from Buemi on the fresher tyres and lighter fuel load saw the Swiss driver close in on Hartley at a rapid pace. It became more of a matter of when was Buemi going to pass rather than would he catch up enough to make a move. Coming into Village, Buemi lined Hartley up, getting his Toyota TS050 Hybrid on the inside of the Loop Corner and squeezing Hartley out a little. Having a much better exit from the corner, Buemi made the move stick and went on to take the first victory of the season by 6.1 seconds. The #1 Porsche finished off the podium, bringing home an unexpected double podium to the German team.

The only LMP1-Privateer entrant, #4 ByKolles Racing, was doing much better than many expected during the 6 Hours of Silverstone. After such a poor Prologue, it was assumed that the team would have a difficult first weekend, leading to many assuming this was the reason Robert Kubica dropped out of the team three days before the first event. However, the car was running strong and, besides a couple of short stints in the garage, it was running within the LMP2 field at a competitive level. But it was not meant to be for the #4 team as, with just fifteen minutes to go; the car was parked up in the garage and did not take the chequered flag. This means that the team did not classify for this race.

Off the start, Nicolas Lapierre was once again the driver to watch. From fourth on the grid Lapierre laid down a blinding pace that saw him take the lead of the class within the first half an hour of racing. But it sadly was not something that was meant to last. Although his teammates fought well there was not enough in the car to get it to cross the line any higher than fourth. The #36 Signatech Alpine crew showed an excellent showcase of teamwork as they fought a tough on track battle with the #28 TDS Racing and #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing teams.

Pole-sitter Alex Lynn had a tough race in the #26 G-Drive Racing machine. It suffered an early door malfunction that forced the team to pit for an extra stop to complete repairs. With just over an hour complete the team had fallen out of contention and it was too much of a gap to close before the chequered flag.

The #38 team had been a threat from the start and remained so throughout the six hours of racing. There were at least five different leaders of the LMP2 class through the race showing just how close and competitive this year’s class will be. It was between Oliver Jarvis in the #38 and the TDS Racing #28 for the lead of the class as the race came to an end. An impressive drive from Jarvis saw him take class victory for his first race in the LMP2 class on track. TDS Racing took second whilst the early leader of the race, #31 Vaillante Rebellion, rounded off the LMP2 podium.

The race was packed with action and drama for the pole sitting #67 Ford Chip Ganassi team. They lead the field off the line and held the advantage competitively until Priaulx suffered a door failure. Whilst speeding down one of the straights the driver’s side door of the Ford GT opened a fraction. This happened a few times and Priaulx looked like he was able to sort out the problem from within the cockpit, but in fear of being forced into the pits by the stewards the team took the decision themselves and pitted about halfway into the race. A big slam of the door seemed to fix the problem but it dropped Tincknell and Priaulx right down the order, handing the lead to the sister #66 Ford car.

But it did not last long as the #92 Porsche GT Team entrant was soaring through the class. Porsche explained that they had been focused on the race pace of the car, hence why they appeared to be so off the mark in qualifying, and the performance of the team was proving that tactic correct. They lead the field competitively for a small duration of the race. Disaster struck as the mid-engine car caught on fire, with the car pulling to a stop on Stowe corner. This incident brought out the first Full Course Yellow of the race as the team could only look on whilst the car was doused with a fire extinguisher.

This handed the advantage back to Ford and the rapid lapping #67. As the #67 Ford entrant was out of sync with everyone else’s pit stops they seemed to be making the alternative strategy work for them. Tincknell had made up a lot of ground during his stint in the car and this left him in prime position to inherit the lead of the class. Against all odds the door failure that plagued the beginning of their race returned with just ten minutes on the clock. Tincknell, like his teammate, managed to get a temporary fix on the issue that was enough to see him over the finish line to take the class win. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE finished second in class whilst the #91 Porsche entrant made it three different manufacturers on the podium.

The #98 Aston Martin Racing team were the ones to beat throughout most of the race in the Am class. For around an hour during the rain shower, the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche had the edge, leading the class, but once the track dried out Aston Martin were back to controlling the pace. It looked like they were set to win even with the multiple spins Paul Dalla Lana suffered during the rainy period of the race that luckily caused no damage to the car.

But the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari had been on a mission and with a few laps left it was closing in on the Aston. Pedro Lamy was pushing as hard as he could, as the chequered flag got closer. The Ferrari was quick but it looked like it would not be enough before the end of the race.

Throwing caution to the wind, the #61 through a move up the inside of Lamy, spinning both of them off the track through contact. Due to their lead on the rest of the field being so great, neither of them lost any positions. But as the Ferrari got moving first it stole the chequered flag, taking the first class victory. Lamy struggled home for second with the Aston clearly suffering a lot of damage as it stopped at Farm Corner after taking the chequered flag.

Qualifying for the LMP1 class looked, in the end, to be fairly one sided. Porsche did not seem to be able to get close to the rapid pace of the Toyota TS050 Hybrids. Kamui Kobayashi setting the fastest lap of the weekend, a 1:36.793, that Porsche could not get any closer than 1.3 seconds slower than. With the battle of down force packages seeming to be the main talking point in the LMP1 field, it will be interesting to see just how far behind, if at all, Porsche are come race day tomorrow. Speed Chills got a chance to talk to some of the LMP1 drivers after their qualifying session.

Being one of the drivers to qualify, Anthony Davidson was happy with the set up of the car and the performance of his #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid. He stated that this year’s Toyota is the “Best the car has ever been in Silverstone,” with it “just doing pretty much everything I wanted.” Davidson explained that the impressive time set by Kobayashi was at the result of the two Toyotas running different options of down force in different set ups for the weekend. Even so, Davidson had nothing but praise for the 2017 challenger, claiming the #8 crew is “really confident with our car for the race,” and he is “Really happy to drive such a good car.”

However, Toyota are under no illusion that tomorrow’s race will be an easy one to take the victory for. Although they have an advantage running the high down force package compared to the low down force aero kit Porsche elected for, Davidson is confident Porsche will be back and closer in the race. “They’re definitely going to be closer in the race than they were in qualifying,” Davidson admitted. “This has never been a strong circuit for us in terms of how we use our hybrid system. Our system is a kinetic system only whereas the Porsche system lends itself a bit better to this kind of track where you don’t get much kinetic recovery. They rely more on their turbo for the heat recovery than we can do round here.

“We are expecting them to be closer but we’re still unsure about how it’s going to pan out in terms of the double stint. How we’re going to use the tyres compared to them. Normally, under the normal circumstances, you’d say we use the tyres better than them, we’d be able to eek out more life in our tyres than them because running more down force should keep the surface of the tyre in better condition, putting less friction through them, we don’t know. One thing is for sure, they’re going to be closer in the race.”

Brendon Hartley was keen to echo this sentiment when discussing the benefits and downsides to running the low down force ‘Le Mans’ specification aero package at a track that prefers high down force. Although he stated that “Qualifying wasn’t very important with only four cars,” and that the #2 crew and Porsche were “really focused on the race.” in the free practice sessions, Hartley believes Porsche is not that far off the pace Toyota was setting in their long runs. “Toyota’s pace was awesome in qualifying but we didn’t see the same in free practice.

“Honestly their time this morning [in qualifying] was really impressive but I think that also there’s a bigger gain for them in qualifying compared to us for a few reasons, with how you manage energies and what not. It was an impressive lap, but I don’t think you’re going to see such differences tomorrow.”

Hartley revealed that the #2 car never ran any qualifying simulations in free practice, opting to use the 240 minutes of free practice time to fully focus on long runs and making sure the car was set up perfectly for the race whilst collecting as much data about tyre wear. This meant they never got the balance right when they put the qualifying set up on the car for the first time in the qualifying session which is what Hartley suggests is the reason they start at the back of the hybrid field. On average, the lap times the Porsches were setting on their long runs were fairly close to the pace of the Toyotas in the same circumstance.

Although Neel Jani has been fairly avoidant that Silverstone will be Porsche’s “joker” race, one that he does not expect them to perform well at due to using the low down force aero kit on the Porsches, Hartley is optimistic about his expectations of tomorrow’s race. “I think we can win.” He claimed boldly. “There is gonna be a fight, everyone has to pull together; strategy, pit stops, there could be a bit of weather in play so there is always a challenge. We’re going for the win.”

The low down force aero package appears to not be as much of a deficit to Porsche this weekend, something the team is pleasantly surprised about. However, qualifying third and fourth ahead of the six-hour race tomorrow was all Jani expected out of the cars today. “P1 and 2 definitely out of reach just due to strategy with the down force package over the season.” Jani explained, using a term he has used a lot this weekend by calling Silverstone Porsche’s ‘joker race’. “We know we give away performance but we hope to gain a lot in the second half [of the season].”

In terms of the pace Porsche produced in qualifying with all things considered, Jani was ‘positively surprised’. “I think is important to mention. Last year, we did a 39.6 with a high down force package, or a higher down force. This year with the low down force package and we go one second quicker. Even though we lost down force and whatever we still went quicker. So I think that’s actually giving me a positive outlook for the future with that car.”

Unlike his teammate, though, Jani does not think there is much they can do to catch the Toyotas in tomorrow’s race. “I think the only chance is if we pass them lap one.” He said when asked if there was any possibility they could challenge for a higher position. “2015 I had this big battle with Marcel, with the Audi. Audi was two seconds a lap quicker but because we were so much quicker on the straight they couldn’t overtake us. That worked out nearly until the end with a four second difference at the end. So I’m not sure that would work tomorrow but I would say that is our only big chance on track.

“But on the other hand, just with racing, you need a bit of luck. Like last year, we won, we were not meant to win but we still won. You know, you never know how a race can turn out.”

Jani may have written off the first round of the championship but he is nothing but positive about the prospect of round two at Spa-Francorchamps even with the low down force package on the car. Silverstone, in Jani’s opinion, should be the only race that sees Porsche losing performance to Toyota. “We think in Spa we could be not looking too bad. If we look really bad in Spa I think we should get a little worried.

“I also think at Spa it could help us overall with traffic management because you can only do lap time on the straight line and over take on the straight line. In the middle sector you cannot overtake. So maybe in the race it will be helping us more than it will help us in qualifying. But I think we go with the positive outlook or view to spa after what we felt here.”

Kamui Kobayashi has set the fastest lap time of the weekend to take pole position for the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing. The lap time was unrivalled throughout the session, and made teammate Mike Conway’s job fairly easy when generating the aggregated lap time for pole position. A close battle in LMP2 saw #26 G-Drive Racing picking up the pole position point this weekend. Ford retained the rapid pace they had shown in the final practice session to clinch LM GTE Pro pole, whilst Aston Martin stole Am pole from Ferrari’s grasp.

Porsche did not have a chance at challenging for pole position when Toyota’s Kobayashi set a 1:36.793 on his second flying lap. Pole was fairly secure for the car as Kobayashi handed over to teammate Mike Conway. Although there was a moment of concern for the team when Conway’s first lap time was deleted due to exceeding track limits, the car still comfortably took pole in the LMP1 class. Locking out the front row, it will be two Toyotas at the front for the start of the first race of the 2017 WEC season, with Porsche having to settle for the second row.

The LMP2 times were changing so rapidly throughout the session it was hard to keep track of who was on provisional pole. At the halfway split, it was Alex Lynn leading the field in the #26 G-Drive. But the advantage was not unreachable and the tension was high as the second drivers climbed into the cockpits. Pierre Thiriet did what he needed to make Lynn’s hard work count and secured pole position for G-Drive with an average of 1:44.387. #36 Signatech Alpine’s Nicolas Lapierre did what he had been accomplishing all weekend and put in a fast enough lap as the second driver to place the ORECA/Gibson second in class. He leaped ahead of the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car and the #28 TDS Racing machine with his flying lap. Due to multiple deleted lap times, the #28 fell from its provisional second in class to seventh in class. #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing appeared to have a torrid session and ended slowest of all the LMP2 cars.

ByKolles made a step up for qualifying but were still off their desired pace. It classified ninth overall, which meant it was slower than four of the LMP2 cars. The average of the car was nine tenths off the average of the pole sitting G-Drive. It was a better performance than they showed in the morning practice session but still the team have some big gains to make.

LM GTE Pro became a battle between Ford #67, Ferrari #71 and Aston Martin #95. None of the other Pro cars could get close to the top three as the twenty-minute session panned out. Harry Tincknell set the pace to beat in the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK car but David Rigon was not far behind in the #71 Ferrari. After the first drivers had set laps, it seemed to be a two horse race, but Marco Sorensen put an end to that with a fantastic lap that put the #96 Aston Martin’s average lap time less than a tenth off the pace of the #71 Ferrari. It seemed the second drivers did enough to maintain the position their teammates set before them, with the #67 sitting on the first 2017 WEC LM GTE Pro pole. Porsche suffered a lot throughout the session and could not seem to get the 911 RSRs into optimum running. Both the Pro cars sat at the back of the Pro field over two seconds off the pole-setting pace.

It was a two car fight in Am, with the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE taking on the #98 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage. After the first drivers got out of the cars, it was the #61 ahead with a small margin. Paul Dalla Lana hopped into the #98 and found the time Pedro Lamy could not out on track, taking the class poll position by six-tenths in average lap times. Porsche were a little bit more competitive in the Am class, taking third place for tomorrow’s grid, but they were nearly a second off of first place. Challenging for anything higher than third was out of reach. The battle at the bottom of the grid was close with each car separated by around three-tenths. The second Ferrari, #54 Spirit of Race, split the two Porsche–running teams, leaving the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR to take the final spot on the grid.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 has been the car to beat through the practice sessions, taking the fastest lap in every session. Running the low down force ‘Le Mans’ specification aero package on their cars, the Porsche LMP1 cars could never quite match the fast pace of the Toyotas. LMP2 produced a mix of results during the three practice sessions. With all the cars running the same chassis and engine combination, the pace is very well matched throughout the field. Porsche were strong through the Friday sessions, but come Saturday the pace they had seemed to fall away in the LM GTE classes. Whether the cars lost performance between the two days or the other teams, namely Ford and Ferrari, were holding back in the first day of the 6 Hours of Silverstone is unknown.

As was expected when Porsche announced they were running the ‘Le Mans’ specification down force package on their 919 Hybrids, Toyota commanded the pace during practice. The #8 seemed to be the car to beat as all three drivers - Sebastian Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Kazuki Nakajima – respectively set the fastest lap in each session. The fastest time, so far, this weekend was a 1:38.210 set by Davidson in the second practice session.

The #7 Toyota suffered an issue in the second practice session that saw it spend just under half of the session in the garage. The team cleared whatever it was and the car ran without further delay. However, it did end that practice session slowest of the LMP1-Hybrid cars with a lap time 1.180 seconds off the pace. More issues befell the Toyota #7 during the final practice sessions as, overtaking traffic; Jose Maria Lopez clipped the #98 Aston Martin Racing Am car causing heavy damage to the front left tyre. The car was reported to the stewards for dangerous driver by since time of publication no further action had occurred.

The ByKolles Racing Team #4 was happily in much better form than it was two weeks ago at the Prologue in Monza. Setting 68 laps in total during Friday’s collective 180 minutes of running was a positive sign for the team who could barely get their car on track two weeks earlier. The pace of the ByKolles is still a distance from where it should be, sitting on average at the back of the LMP2 field, but it is good to see that the car is out setting laps and reliability seems strong.

Track limits was the talk of the practice sessions. Many drivers were getting messages about respecting track limits, specifically at Luffields, Copse, and Club Corner. It is suspected that drivers will receive lap deletions during qualifying simply because of the vast amount of teams that are getting messages about track limits. Some teams have even gone as far as receiving black and white warning flags for continuous abuse of the track limitations.

As promised from the Prologue, LMP2 has shown a closely matched field. Some of the practice sessions have shown more time covering the class than others, but it is assumed to be a tight battle for pole in qualifying. The Vaillante Rebellions look to be ones to watch, with the team managing to fastest lap or be in the top five of each practice session. The TDS Racing cars - #28 TDS Racing and #26 G-Drive Racing – seem to have found some extra pace in the final practice session and are expected to be strong in qualifying.

The LM GTE classes have thrown a variety of results in the practice session, leaving deciding on a favourite for pole in each class quite difficult. Friday practice sessions were first in Aston Martin Racing’s control. It appeared that the teams had been sandbagging significantly at the Prologue as they showed up with an uncatchable pace for the first practice session. Porsche retaliated in the second practice session yesterday, with the Porsche GT Team cars fastest by the chequered flag. It looked like it was going to be a Aston Martin and Porsche battle for pole position when the paddock packed up Friday evening.

Alas, the Ferrari entrants, who had been slowest significantly throughout Friday, came back with a pace to challenge on Saturday morning. Ford also looked to have made a step up with their two Ford GT cars and it was a Ferrari and Ford battle for the fastest lap in final practice. Porsche, today, have seemed to be the ones completely off the pace, finishing slowest in the Pro class. This could show an interesting turn of events in qualifying and could see yesterday’s favourites now least favourite to take the first pole position.

The same situation was seen in the Am class, but with the difference of the #98 Aston Martin Racing car consistently being a threat. In the first practice session, the #98 finished fastest in Am and second fastest of all the GT cars on track. It was an incredible turn of form from what was expected of it after Monza. Ferrari, like their Pro counterparts, seemed to be off the pace on Friday but returned on a mission Saturday morning.

We are now quickly approaching the first race of the season. The cars made their first appearance at Monza at the beginning of the month and whilst there has been a lot of changes over the winter, it is shaping up once again to be a fantastic season.

LMP1

For the first time in nearly 20 years, we will not see an Audi Prototype fighting at the front of the grid, all good things come to an end however, times change and things move on. From first impressions at Monza, it would appear that both Toyota and Porsche are cable of filling the gap, both teams running redesigned variations of their TSO50 and 919 Hybrids. The future of LMP1 is certainly bright with a number of customer cars due to enter in 2018 with the newly designed Ginetta chassis. Away from the Hybrid factory cars, ByKolles return for the season with a new engine and a newly designed car.

Porsche return to the championship with a substantially updated 919 Hybrid, comments from Monza indicating that around 70% of the car has been newly developed including new body work and substantial changes to the front aero and head lights. The Porsche driver line up has also seen a number of changes over the winter, beginning with the announcement towards the back of 2016 that Mark Webber would retire at the end of the year. Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb stepped down from the team at the end of the season with Earl Bamber and and Nick Tandy returning to the team after their 2015 Le Mans success. Andre Lotterer also joins the team stepping in to the #1 car alongside Bamber and Neel Jani.

The 2017 Toyota TS050 Hybrid like the Porsche has been substantially updated, the far has a brand new aero package and a brand new 2.4 litre twin turbo V6 petrol engine. Feedback from members of the team in Monza, confirmed the car had undergone 30,000 KM of testing, including four 30 hour endurance sessions. Toyota will also be running a third car at Spa and Le Mans this year featuring a reshuffled line up. FIA World Touring Car Champion Jose Maria Lopez joins Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the #7, the #8 line up stays unchanged. Stephane Sarrazin makes the switch to the #9 car partnering alongside Super Formula Champion Yuji Kunimoto and former Toyota driver Nicolas Lapierre.

ByKolles return with an updated chassis and a new power plant. The 2016 car suffered with serious overheating issues in 2016 which saw the AER engine blow up on more than one occasion, including Le Mans. The updated car now features the Cosworth designed Nissan LMP1 GT-R LM engine from 2015. The Prologue was a troublesome weekend for ByKolles however, only venturing out of the garage for six laps the whole weekend before the rear wing collapsed. Oliver Webb got the only track time in the car. Robert Kubica was announced as a new driver for 2017 but there is yet to be an official announcement on a third driver. Dominik Kraihamer was due to test the car in Monza but there are no further announcements on his plans for this year. It is unlikely that ByKolles will offer any competition for Toyota and Porsche but it will be an important development year for the team with the Ginetta customer chassis coming in next season.

It is hard to take any firm conclusions away from the Prologue with teams running various different set ups. Porsche were visibly quicker through the speed traps, topping out at 319.5 KPH in the hands of Earl Bamber. In comparison, Toyota only managed to hit 306.8 KPH in the hands of Nico Lapierre. However at the Prologue last year, Toyota topped the time sheets by over 20 kph and struggled early on in the season.

LMP2

LMP2 is very much a one make series this year in the WEC, each team running with the Oreca 07, Alpine running a modified version of the chassis. Le Mans will see a variety of chassis entries though with both Ligier and Dallara to be represented at the 24 Hour in June. The new cars are quick. They have an additional hundred horse power, the Alpine hit 314 KPH through the speed traps in the hands of Romain Dumas, beating the Toyotas in a straight line.

There has been some big changes in LMP2 this year, Jota have signed to run the Jackie Chan DC Racing cars with Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent in the #38 car with David Cheng, Alex Brundle and Tristan Gommendy in the #37.

TDS Racing have made the step up this year from the European Le Mans Series to the World Endurance Championship. They are partnered with G-Drive Racing, Pierre Thiriet joining Roman Rusinov and Alex Lynn in the #26 car, former GTE-Am runners Francois Perrodo, Mattheiu Vaxiviere and Emmanuel Collard running the #28 TDS entry.

Manor WEC return with new sponsorship and backing in the form of China Energy and SMP with Vitaly Petrov confirmed as the third driver in the #24. Both cars feature a new look livery for 2017, with a substantial amount of sponsorship coverage in comparison to last year.

Rebellion made the switch over the winter to LMP2, returning to the class with a new look livery and sponsorship package, the team now officially called Vaillante Rebellion. David Heinemeier Hansson makes his return to prototype racing, partnering up in the #13 with Mathias Beche and Nelson Piquet Jr. The #31 car will be driven by Bruno Senna, Nico Prost and Julien Canal.

GTE Pro

The big news in GTE Pro is Porsche making their factory return to the championship having take a year out to develop the new “not mid-engine’d” 911 RSR. Aston Martin return with the next iteration of the Vantage, a fairly old car now in comparison to the Ford and Ferrari entries. The new 911 is a serious piece of kit and certainly a title contender. The engine has been moved closer to the middle of the car, but as per the launch press conference in Monza, it is not a “mid-engined” car. Porsche have admitted that there will be no road going variants of the car. With a number of teams making the mid season switch to two drivers, it is slightly surprising to see Ford and Aston Martin running three drivers in each car. Pipo Derani (of ESM fame) joins the #67 team whilst Billy Johnson joins Mucke and Pla in the #66. Richie Stanaway joins the #95 with Aston Martin development driver Daniel Serra joining Jonny Adam and Darren Turner in the #97. As ever in GT Racing, it is hard to tell just where every body stands with the development of Balance of Performance measures, however, this season will hopefully be better managed with a new automated BOP system. Last years restrictions were often altered on a session by session basis rather than between race weekends.

GTE Am

As with the rest of the grid, there have been some big changes to the class. Clearwater Racing join for a full season after a strong debut at Le Mans, they will be racing the ex Gimi Bruni AF Corse 488 with Matt Griffin partnering Keita Sawa and Weng Sun Mok. Spirit of Race join the championship with Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Miguel Molina at the wheel. They will have backing from AF Corse throughout the season.

Aston Martin return with the loan season entry, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Matthias Laura all returning for the season. The trio missed out on the championship last year despite taking a number of wins. Gulf Racing return with the old shape 911 RSR, Ben Barker joining Michael Wainwright and Nicholas Foster, who steps in to replace Adam Carrol. Dempsey Proton drop down to the Am Class, Christian Reid partnering Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst. It will be a shame not to have a full season Corvette entry registered, however we will once again be joined by an American contingent of Corvettes at Le Mans.

Audi maybe gone, but 2017 is going to be a fantastic season. There is a chance that LMP1 could be a very one way fight, however, if both cars are on par with each other then it is going to be a fantastic fight at the top. Fuji last year being a prime example where Toyota took their home race win by just over a second. Add into the mix that the LMP2 cars now have an extra 100BHP, there is a very real chance that a P2 car could finish on the overall podium. At Le Mans, if close enough, the LMP2 cars may even stand a chance of passing the LMP1 cars down the Mulsanne Straight, to then lose the ground through the corners.

Both GTE fields are going to be as varied as always with each class managed by BOP. Traffic management will be incredibly important for each of the four classes, the speed differentiations being so different both through the corners and in a straight line.

It all kicks off in less than a weeks time at Silverstone, what ever happens, one thing for sure is its going to be a great season!

Marc Goossens and Renger van der Zande took to Long Island with just the two of them for the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The VISIT FLORIDA Racing team were in search of their second podium this season with the Gibson Riley challenger and after the disappointment of the 12 Hours of Sebring there was little else on their mind. However, the bad luck had not finished from Sebring as the team were forced to abandon the race after only the first practice session, not even participating in qualifying or race day.

There was a lot of potential pace in the VISIT FLORIDA Racing challenger and Goossens and van der Zande were showing excellent pace during the first practice session. They had been taking it in turns to set laps around the legendary street cuircuit. It was van der Zande who was on board the #90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Gibson Riley when disaster struck.

A brake failure saw the Dutchman unable to stop at the braking zone for Turn 1. He was able to slow the car down but not significantly enough, leading to a high speed crash into the tyre barriers.

Luckily the machine absorbed most of the energy, seeing van der Zande able to get out of the car quickly and receive an all clear from the IMSA medical staff. But this saw the end of the #90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing’s weekend as the damage it suffered was too much for the team to be able to repair in time for the race.

With what is hopefully their last bad weekend behind them, VISIT FLORIDA Racing now look ahead towards the fourth round of the season at the Circuit of the Americas taking place on the 4th-6th of May.

With the pre season testing now complete before the season opener in a few weeks at Silverstone, it is still not clear as to which teams are on top of their respective classes. Both Porsche and Toyota finished the day with a fastest lap, whilst LMP2 still looks to be a mixed field with every team running the same chassis and engine combination. Only in the LM GTE fields do things look a bit clearer, but Balance of Performance could see the predicted order muddled when we get to the first race of the season.

Today’s running consisted of only two track sessions. Both lasted three hours and one took place in the morning and one in the afternoon. A new fastest lap time was set today, with Nicolas Lapierre putting Toyota on top in the final session of the test with an impressive 1:30.547, nearly a second up on Mike Conway’s faster overall lap time set yesterday.

Only one incident saw track action halted in today’s sessions. With half an hour left of the afternoon, and final, session, an unexpected rain shower glanced over the track. It did not seem to be too heavy down at Variante Tribune, but at the top end of the track (near the Lesmo corners) there was a lot less grip. Due to this it is assumed that is the direction the rain came from, meaning it hit the Lesmo corners first.

Matthew Rao was out in last’s year’s LMP2 champion car #36 Signatech Alpine when, going through Lesmo One, the car snapped away from him on the damp track. Caught unaware, Rao was a passenger as the car spun out and into the tyre barrier. As there was a lot of damage to the tyre barrier, the session was red flagged for ten minutes. Rao was surveyed trackside and cleared by the medical doctor, not even needing to go to the medical centre.

When the track returned to green the rain shower had made what had been a dry track, after last night’s fully wet evening session, damp. This meant that most teams did not risk taking back to the track and the test ended slightly anticlimactically with only Toyota lapping round in short stints.

Lapierre set the fastest lap of the prologue at the start of the afternoon session. The morning session started a little damp as the track was still wet from last night’s downpour. It was the #1 Porsche crew who took the fastest lap in the morning session with the sister #2 car finishing 0.004 seconds slower than their fastest lap of a 1:32.020.

But it looked like, in both sessions, the LMP1 Hybrid teams were focusing on mileage rather than fastest laps. In the morning session, Porsche were able to put 212 laps on the Porsche 919s collectively and without fault on the cars. Porsche also elected to run some hybrid tests where they completed a lap or two on only hybrid power. This was to make sure that, if there is an engine failure on the cars during a race, the drivers can get them back to the pits on hybrid power alone for repairs.

After such a bad first day of the test yesterday, it had looked more positive for #4 ByKOLLES entrant as they managed to get their car out for six laps towards the end of the evening session last night. Sadly, this seemed to be full of false hope. Within an hour of the first session today the team withdrew from the rest of the test without getting the car out for one lap. It does not look like the best start of the year for the team nor the best start to their advantage over Ginetta for the 2018 season. There will be no advantage to gain if they cannot have the car running competitively or, at least, full race distance.

LMP2 did not disappoint today in promising what looks like a closely fought season. The #28 TDS Racing car took the fastest lap time in the morning session, whilst Oliver Jarvis put the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car fastest in the afternoon in what was effectively his first outing in the car. But the LMP2 field remained close for the entire day, with the field being covered by around 2 seconds.

In the morning, a few of the LMP2 cars suffered with a few issues, one of those being the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing. The car managed to get out for a few laps towards the end of the session when Jarvis got on board for the first time with his new team. He managed to get eighth fastest in that session and picked up the fastest lap in the afternoon session within the first hour. His pace showed consistency and competitiveness, so hopefully Jarvis will be able to convert his talents from LMP1 to LMP2 for the 2017 season.

The #31 Variante Rebellion entrant also suffered some issues in the morning session. The team managed to get 25 laps on the board and took to sending the car out for short stints throughout the session. But whatever troubles seemed to ale the car in the first session of the day were resolved when it came to the second one. LMP2 is looking like a strongly competitive field, with not one car breaking away from the pack. Hopefully this will be something that is echoed in the season opener in a fortnight’s time and will lead to some excellent racing in the class over the season.

The #92 Porsche GT Racing team were not able to take a clean sweep of fastest LM GTE Pro laps for the test as the afternoon test was taken by Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK. Ford have been the closest contenders to Porsche in the Pro class all weekend. They may have been finishing as the third and fourth car for most of the sessions, but the time gap was never over a couple of tenths of a second.

Aston Martin looked to be struggling the most in class, with their two cars consistently occupying the bottom two spots of the class in every session. Again, the deficit is not massive (around half a second on average) and over the course of a six-hour race they could make up for any lap time disadvantage they have. But they are the slowest of the Pro cars and this should cause some concern for the Aston Martin crews. It looks like they will not be able to push for wins on a pace basis by may need to rely on other cars failing to get onto the podium.

The second day of testing saw a new manufacturer on top in the GTE Am field. #61 Clearwater Racing took charge in the afternoon whilst the morning had belonged to the other Ferrari 488, the #54 Spirit of Race. Ferrari didn’t run away with it, with the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche only three-tenths off the leading pace in the afternoon in third and two-tenths, in second, off the fastest lap time of the #54.

Aston Martin were, once again, at the back of this field. The situation here is very similar to the one in LM GTE Pro: the Aston Martins are not significantly slower on pace time but are certainly and consistently the slowest in class. The #98 Aston Martin Racing piloted by Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda, and Pedro Lamy was four-tenths off the fastest lap in the afternoon session, but they did not look like the were possible of closing that gap down as they proved by being consistently slowest in the LM GTE Am class.

For reasons undisclosed by the team, the Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 Porsche sat out the final three-hour session, not coming out of the garage at all. It joined the #4 ByKOLLES LMP1 privateer car on the sidelines and ended the session early. The car had been running strong in the morning session with no problems seeming to be on the car.

The World Endurance Championship Prologue is the first official test of the WEC and the first time that all of the teams race the new cars together on the track. Although it is testing, so lap times and relative pace must be taken with a pinch of salt, it is the first chance to see these cars up against each other and get a sense of where people may be with their cars heading to the first round of the Championship in a fortnight’s time.

Day one of the Prologue consisted of three track sessions: two of three-hours in durations (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and one of two-hours in duration (the evening session). Taking place for the first time around the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the cars have been showing a step up in overall pace compared to previous years. Although rain fell in the evening session, reducing the amount of running that took place, the day sessions were filled with a lot of track action and very little incident.

Only three Full Course Yellows fell upon the track today. The first was due to an LMP2 systems check of the Full Course Yellow system and so lasted around three minutes at the beginning of the morning session. Luckily, there were no mistakes or misfortunate moments in the wet evening run. In fact, due to the rain, very few people took to the track for the evening session, with only 15 of the 27 in attendance of the test taking to the track and 13 setting lap times.

The other two Full Course Yellows came in the afternoon session. Just after the end of the first hour, the #24 CEFC Manor TDS Racing went off track at Variante Tribune and was unable to recover itself. The session took a turn for the worse as it was later reported, once the #24 had made it back out on track, that the car was losing liquid around the track. It took about an hour for the car to get back on track with whatever issues it had to have been resolved.

The pace-setting LM GTE Pro Porsche GT Team #92 was the only other car to bring out the Full Course Yellows. Towards the end of the second hour, the car went off at Variante Ascari, getting stuck in the gravel trap on the exit of the corner. The Full Course Yellow soon turned into a red flag to get the truck on track to clear the car, putting a delay of about twenty minutes on the session. Like the Manor, the Porsche #92 was not deterred by the off and finished the afternoon session fastest of the LM GTE Pro cars.

The LMP1 field, of Porsche and Toyota, is looking very close upon reflecting on the first day of the Prologue. Although in the speed trap, Porsche are recording 319kph whilst Toyota are setting 306kph, all of the data we are gathering is relative. It is unknown exactly what set up, tyres, fuel, or programme teams are running to generate these numbers. For example, at last year’s Prologue, Toyota were setting 20kph faster than any other team in the speed trap, but when it came to the first few races their car could not keep up with Audi or Porsche. The difference in pace could also be down to which aero kit the teams have installed on the cars, which Porsche refuses to confirm as of this moment.

Toyota took the fastest lap in the afternoon session, whilst it was Porsche on top in the morning and evening session. However, the fastest time set so far this weekend was a 1:31.332, which was set by Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota about halfway through the evening session. All of the LMP1 cars have now set times in the 1m31s bracket, but no one could go faster than Conway’s time. The evening session was heavily rain affected and it was only the LMP1 cars that set respectable times as they took to the track at the very start of the session and set their times before the track got saturated.

Problems for the #4 ByKOLLES Racing LMP1 privateer held it in the garage for most of the day. The team were waiting for parts to arrive for their Nismo engine and working through some teething problems, meaning they couldn’t get the car out on track. With half an hour of testing left, Robert Kubica took the ENSO CLM P1/01 out for six laps, setting a lap time of 2:17.915 on a rain-soaked track. The hope is that the issues the team were faced with will have been sorted and they can get to their proper testing programme tomorrow when track action gets underway again.

There was also a rumour of potential issues on the #2 Porsche LMP1 from an electrical stand. In the morning session, the #2 slipped down the pit lane silently, implying that there was no power to the car and it was just rolling to the pit box. No issues have been confirmed by the team, but it will be interesting to see if there is any significant improvement to the Porsche in tomorrow’s running.

The LMP2 field suggested a very close fight in the class is expected. With all teams having elected to run ORECA 07 chassis (Signatech Alpine run a modified version of the ORECA 07 to give them the Alpine A470) and all having to run the Gibson V8 engine, the class order will be determined more on aero packages and if teams can capitalise on any innovative technology or design features.

From the testing today, it looks like Vaillante Rebellion may have the best full package. They finished the first session with a one-two and the second session fastest with the #13. The afternoon session was taken by last year’s class champions #36 Signatech Alpine. But most of the time the LMP2 field was covered by just over a second, with the gaps between cars as little as a tenth of a second. It looks like there is not one dominate team in the LMP2 field. Perhaps if a different chassis had been chosen by someone there would have been some more variation, but from the first look at the cars going round the track it looks like LMP2 is going to be closely fought this year.

The new Porsche 911 RSRs look to be the benchmark for the rest of the LM GTE fields. Of course, the lap times and data must be looked at whilst keeping in mind the teams may have been on different programmes or set ups, but the Porsches were fastest in LM GTE Pro with the #92 Porsche GT Team entrant and in LM GTE Am with the Gulf Racing #86 in all three sessions today.

Ford look, at the moment, to be Porsche biggest rival in LM GTE Pro. Although Porsche took the fastest lap time of each session, Ford were never more than two-tenths off their pace. Ferrari looked to be getting into the fight in the afternoon session, placing a car in between the two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK entries to take fourth fastest in class. Unfortunately, it seems that Aston Martin are a little way off the pace of the other GTE manufacturers. The deficit is not massive – on average, around half a second slower on their fastest laps – but they were always at the bottom of the LM GTE Pro class times.

Aston Martin has a similar situation in LM GTE Am. As of the last chequered flag today, The Am Aston Martin Racing entry #98 was, on average, the slowest LM GTE Am on track. The deficit, like in the Pro class, is not a massive one, but it may be cause for concern for the British manufacturer. There is a potential that the Aston Martins are sandbagging and they could take to the track at Silverstone and be fastest in class. This is the only issue with analysing the data and times that we get from pre-season tests; so much is left unknown and there is a very strong chance that all of the 27 cars have been sandbagging this weekend.

The #86 Gulf Racing Porsche was the pace setter for the Am class today. Like the LM GTE Pro Porsche, the Porsche 911 RSR (991)s of Gulf Racing and Dempsey-Proton Racing dominated the top of the times for their class, finishing the two dry sessions with a one-two. The Clearwater Racing and Spirit of Race Ferraris were next to line up behind the Porsches. The situation in both GTE classes is very similar; where Ford are just off the pace of Porsche in GTE Pro, it is Ferrari who is just off the pace of the Porsches in GTE Am.

It was a race of disappointment for the VISIT FLORIDA Racing team for the second race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After finishing so strongly at Daytona, taking a podium by scoring third place and being ‘best-of-the-rest’ over the 24 hour endurance race, an electrical issue forced the team to bring the car behind the wall during the 12-hour marathon. Perseverance and impressive driving saw Marc Goossens, Renger van der Zande and Rene Rast pulled the VISIT FLODIRA Racing challenger to sixth for the chequered flag.

At the start of the Mobil1 Sebring 12 Hours, the VISIT FLORIDA Racing trio put the car fifth, looking strong to repeat their performance at Daytona and get the car onto the podium. Van der Zande started the race off, taking the green flag to get into the rhythm of the race instantly and began firing off competitive lap times.

A two-hour stint saw van der Zande bring the car it for its first pit stop. The Netherlands native managed to get up to third place before handing over to Goossens for the second stint.

It was just half an hour into his stint that Goossens discovered an issue with the Gibson Riley. He was stuck with an ailing throttle and forced to bring the car back in to go behind the wall for repairs. The team lost around an hour and a half in the garage, giving Goossens just over eight hours of the race left when he finally returned to the track.

Goossens left nothing out on track as he pushed the VISIT FLORIDA Racing Gibson Riley through its paces. It didn’t take long for him to get back up to pace with the focus now on damage limitation. He made up a few positions before handing the car over to third driver Rast.

Rast’s pace matched the example set by Goossens before him and the car was looking strong. Sadly the 90 minute delay behind the wall had dropped the VISIT FLORIDA Racing team down to seventh in class. However strong the pace was there was no way the team would be able to close the ground to get a second consecutive podium at this event.

The pure perseverance of the team brought the Gibson Riley up to take sixth as the chequered flag fell, showing a display of incredible team spirit. It was a disappointing end to what could have been a brilliant race, but reliability had thrown its hand in the mix and prevented VISIT FLORIDA Racing from getting anything more out of the weekend.

The team now looks forward to heading to the West Coast to take part in the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Island will take place over the 7th and 8th of April. Hopefully VISIT FLORIDA Racing’s luck will be back and they can remind the IMSA grid exactly what they are capable of.

Announced today in the FIA/ACO press conference, 60 cars are set to line up on the grid for the Le Mans 24 Hour in June.

LMP1 is down to just six cars for this years race, the lowest the class has seen in its 14 year history. Toyota have confirmed a third TS050 for Spa and Le Mans; they will be joined by two updated Porsche 919s and the ByKolles CLM P1/01. Porsche have a reshuffled driver line up for the season with Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Andre Lotterer joining the line up, alongside Neel Jani, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard. Toyota have an as yet unannounced line up; however, Stephane Sarrazin will lead the third cars line up with Jose Maria Lopez stepping into the squad.

The biggest class in the race will once again be LMP2 with a record 25 cars set to line up on the grid. The grid will feature 13 cars from the European Le Mans Series, 9 cars from the FIA WEC, alongside Eurasia Motorsport from the Asian Le Mans Series and two one off entries. Ben Keating will debut the Riley MK30 LMP2 at Le Mans. The brand new Oreca 07 chassis makes up the majority of the field, 15 cars if including the modified Alpines. They will be joined by six Ligiers, three Dallaras and the single entrant Riley. Formula One star Rubens Barrichello makes his debut with Racing Team Nederland in the Dallara P217.

The GTE Pro field continues to grow, 2017 sees Porsche return to the full season FIA WEC campaigning the new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR. The usual suspects also make an appearance at Le Mans, Aston Martin Racing, AF Corse Ferrari, Corvette, Ford and Risi Competitzione. Ford will field four GT’s at Le Mans, the two American IMSA GTLM entries accompanying the FIA WEC GTE-Pro entries.

GTE Am sees 16 cars lining up on the grid with cars coming in from the FIA, ELMS, AsLMS and IMSA; four Porsche 911, seven Ferrari 488’s one Ferrari 458, three Aston Martins and the Larbre Competition Corvette. The full season Aston Martin entry will be joined by TF Sport and Beechdean from the European Le Mans Series. Clearwater Racing make their full season FIA WEC debut this year and will field an additional 488 Ferrari at Le Mans alongside two Spirit of Race entries, two Scuderia Corsa entries and one car from DH Racing. JMW Motorsport will once again field a single Ferrari 458. Gulf, Proton Competition and Dempsey Proton will once again field a Porsche 911 each.

The 2017 edition sees just two confirmed reserve entries. RLR M Sport have listed a Ligier JSP217 with a GTE Porsche listed in reserve run by Mentos Racing.

The entry list so far can be found on the official website of the Le Mans 24 hours. Click here

Last weekend marked the 55th edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and kick-started the 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The race was filled with drama from the first hour and heavy rainfall putting the grid under a 2-hour long full course yellow in the early hours of the morning. With the full course yellows making 21 appearances over the 24 hours of racing it was evidently an action-packed race. 14 of the 55 entrants in the race failed to take the chequered flag, with the last retiree dropping out of the race with just half an hour left on the clock.

From the beginning of the race weekend, it was clear that the Cadillac DPis were the dominant car on the field, taking fastest lap in all of the practice sessions and qualifying. The case did not change during the race. Although the VISIT FLORIDA Racing Riley/Multimatic did hold the lead of the race for around 30 laps during the 24 hours, it was primarily a fight between the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac and the Action Express Cadillacs for the overall win.

There were a few challenges from other chassis in the Prototype class for the overall win but none of these came to light. The #22 Tequila Petron Nissan Onroak DPi looked to be in with a chance of challenging for the overall win during the night period of the race. However, heavy rainfall was making it very difficult for the drivers to get the tyres up to optimum racing temperature for a few laps after they had been in the pits. This caused great issues for the #22 as, with Brendon Hartley at the wheel, the New Zealand driver lost control of the car coming onto the banked corner and made contact with a GT car, damaging the steering on the Nissan. This incident took the #22 completely out of contention for the race, ending 17th overall and seventh in class.

It was not just issues for the #22 during the race. The second Action Express car – number #31 – had a start-up issue from the beginning of the race. This was losing the car time during pit stops as the team had to take it behind the wall to bump start it in the garage. Seb Morris got into the car for the first time, having won his seat in the Sunoco Challenge, and put on an amazing display. He managed to get the #31 up to first overall and get a pit stop advantage on second place in his first stint.

But that was where the good fortune of the #31 disappeared. All of Morris’ hard work was undone as the car failed to start up again in the pitlane. Rather than a simple start-up behind the wall, the car disappeared for around half an hour for more extensive repairs. It fell down the order and out of contention for the win. There were issues on the #5 Action Express Cadillac, but nothing as extensive as those issue to behold the #31. After 24 hours of racing, the final half an hour saw intense wheel-to-wheel racing for the overall lead of the race, with under a second splitting the leading pair.

Using the pitstops, #5 Action Express had managed to get ahead and be leading going into the last few laps. The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing car was forced into a ‘do or die’ move as the end of the race got closer. As he tried to go up the inside into the first corner, leading to the infield section, the #10 made contact with the #5, spinning the Action Express car off into the off-field. Both cars managed to get through the accident unscathed, but it was a shock when the #10 was not handed an “advantage by contact” penalty. #10 Wayne Taylor Racing went on to take the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona overall win, with the #5 crew having to settle for second. Filipe Albuquerque, who was piloting the #5 at the end of the race, was furious about the result, claiming that in-race incidents happen but the Wayne Taylor Racing car should have waited for him to keep their race going wheel-to-wheel to the chequered flag and make the win of the race fair.

The Prototype Challenge class saw the #38 Performance Tech Motorsport car as the only one not to succumb to a big issue during the 24 hours. They won the Prototype Challenge class with the two Starworks Motorsport cars retiring in the last few hours. The #8 and #88 Starworks cars had suffered a lot of damage, with them both being involved in heavy impacts that saw them in the garages for repairs for a long time. The #88 was hit by the #31 in a similar accident that fell upon Hartley in the #22 Tequila Petron car, whilst an off-track moment from the #8 Starworks Prototype Challenge car saw it spear into the side of the #73 GT Porsche, crashing it into the tyre barrier and taking the Porsche out of the race. The Porsche had been leading the GT Daytona class at the time. The #8 Starworks car was handed a ten-minute stop/go penalty for the incident after it had been in the pits for about four hours for repairs.

Incidents during the race saw the two BAR1 Motorsports finishing 22 laps behind the leader of the class. The #20 and #26 cars appeared to have lost some performance from qualifying, losing their advantage over the #38 Performance Tech Motorsport car. The #38 managed to take the win in class from pole in class and barely had any challenge for the lead during the race.

After locking out the top three in qualifying, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing had a much harder time during the race. Although they still held an advantage over the GT Le Mans field there was a much stronger challenge from behind through the 24 hours. In the end, four GT Le Mans cars were in contention for the win, with the cars all running wheel-to-wheel during the final handful of laps. What made the end of the race even more exciting was four different manufacturers in the top four at the end of the race, showing that Ford’s advantage from qualifying had been overcome during the 24-hour race.

The #62 Risi Competizione looked to be the biggest threat for class-leader #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing as they sat second on track behind the American team. The #62 had been the biggest competition to the Fords throughout the race and managed to keep coming back to second, sometimes first, after the pitstop cycles. However, the Porsche #911 was sitting third at the end of the race and looking for any opportunity to progress further up the field. The Corvette #3 was sitting fourth, also looking for a chance to get higher up the field but it didn’t quite have the pace of the leading three.

Taking the opportunity when the #62 tried to make a move up the inside of #66 and went wide the #911 Porsche managed to steal second from the Ferrari 488 GTE and begin chasing down the Ford for first in class. The #62 had no chance to fight back as it fell into range of the #3 Corvette behind it, leaving it vulnerable to losing a podium altogether. As much as they tried the pace of the Porsche and Corvette were no match to those ahead in the Ford and the Ferrari, seeing the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing take the overall class win and the #911 Porsche and the #62 Ferrari finishing off the class podium.

Of all the classes to be competing, the GT Daytona class had the closest racing of them all. During the 24-hour race there was consistently a different leader, with the top eight cars in class usually all being from different manufacturers. The class was too close to call before the race had started, and even with just 30-minutes left who was going to win was unpredictable.

The unpredictable nature of the class was underlined when just half an hour of the race remained the leading #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 suddenly stopped on track. Sam Bird had been fighting back through the field, showing the superior pace of the Ferrari, and had just re-taken the lead when his car, with no warning, stopped out on track dropping him completely out of contention. There was not enough time left in the race to try and repair the car so last year’s GT Daytona Champion-winning car failed to finish the race.

The #73 Porsche had been showing great pace during the first section of the race, leading the class and having Matthew McMurry perform impressively during his stints. It was unfortunate that the car was taken out of the race by the #8 Starworks Prototype Challenge car as it had been showing fantastic pace and could have been a contender for the class win had it have made it to the end of the race.

The class was won in the end by the #28 Alegra Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R, with the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS second and the #33 Riley Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 rounding off the podium positions. It was a perfect reflection of the closely pegged GT3 cars in this class that the podium housed three different manufacturers. Six different manufactures were present in the top ten at the chequered flag, just as there had been on average through the 24-hours of racing.

With four hours to go, Cadillac continue to dominate.

The 21st hour began with the continuation of the battle between the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac and the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, meanwhile, in GTLM, the six leading cars were all within a matter of seconds. The beginning of the hour saw the #55 Mazda DPi pull in to the pit lane with an oil fire at the rear of the car. Spencer Pigot escaped the car unharmed but the car remained in the pits, dropping out of the top five. Another yellow flag for a PC incident brought out by the #8 Starworks car Motorsports car spinning into the inside of turn one. This brought the pack closer together once again. The gap between the top three in P closed down to five seconds as the race restarted. The battle in GTLM was beginning to hot up between the #62 Ferrari and the #69 Ford GT. The #912 Porsche dropped out of contention due to a drive through penalty and fell two laps down. The #33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes cycled back in to the lead of GTD under pressure from the Michael Shank Acura cars. Sam Bird took the lead in the #63 Ferrari towards the end of the hour. A third caution of the hour was called after the #81 DragonSpeed car hit the barrier, smashing its rear wing.

With two hours left, Cadillac still held a comfortable lead, the VISIT FLORIDA Racing #90 was the best of the rest, running third. The two Cadillac’s were fighting hard between themselves, swapping positions. Filipe Albuquerque took the lead from Christian Fittipaldi and pulled out a 20 second advantage. Despite the clear pace advantage of the Cadillacs, VISIT FLORIDA Racing were still on the lead lap. Just one lap back, the #2 Tequila Patron ESM sat fourth with the #13 Rebellion Racing running fifth in class, eight laps down. Ben Hanley began the hour having just lost control of the DragonSpeed Oreca into the Bus Stop. The car limped back to the pits for repairs, body work littering the track. The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports car dominated the PC class, 24 laps clear of the second place #26 car.  The lead six cars continued to battle in GTLM, the #66 Ford leading the way from the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari second ahead of the #68 and #69 Fords. The #3 Corvette and #911 Porsche completed the six car train that was running almost nose to tail.

Heartbreak hit in GTD, Sam Bird pulled off the circuit with smoke streaming from the back of the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari at the end of the hour. The #63 Corsa pulled over with the rear wheels locked on the inside of turn six. It would appear the engine had blown and seized. This handed the lead to the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi.

The #90 VISIT FLORIDA car inherited the lead as the next pitstop cycle begun, the #10 Cadillac fell in to third with a slow stop. Felipe Albuquerque took the advantage in the #5 and set about building his advantage as the trio sliced through the traffic. Starworks Motorsport officially retired their cars from the race.

Meanwhile, in GTLM, Corvette took the lead through the pit stops, holding on to the lead before eventually losing out to the #66 Ford and the #62 Ferrari towards the end of the hour. GTD was still a five way fight as the race reached the end of the 23rd hour. The #33 Riley began the hour on top, under pressure from the #29 and #28 cars, both of whom passed at the end of the hour. The #28 Alegra Motorsports car was on a charge as the race entered the final hour, passing three cars in as many laps. Michael Christensen put his car into second behind Connor De Phillippi. The hour ended under caution as the bonnet was ripped off the #93 Michael Shank Racing car.

At the end of a fantastic, Rolex 24 At Daytona, it was the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac that took the win after a controversial move to pass the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. The aggressive move down the inside into turn one with just five minutes remaining assured victory for the #10 which made contact and spun the #5 off the circuit. Albuquerque got the car restarted and set off after the #10. The move was investigated by the stewards and deemed legal. As a result, Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli and Jeff Gordon took the win by a margin of just 0.671 seconds. Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi took second place with the #90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Riley coming home an unexpected third. Marc Goossens, Renger van der Zande and Rene Rest bringing the car home one lap down. The trio put in a fantastic performance but were just unable to match the pace of the Cadillacs.

The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports car came home first, twenty two laps ahead of the #26 car. The #20 BAR1 Motorsports car completed the podium, the other two cars in class, both run by Starworks were retired.

The final half hour of the race, went down to the wire in GTLM with three different cars leading the class. But eventually, it was the #66 Ford GT with Dirk Mueller at the wheel coming out on top. Mueller fought his was passed the #62 Ferrari of James Calado through the first couple of corners with just 30 minutes to run, the pair traded paint as they fought their way through the infield. The close fought battle allowed the #911 to sneak through a gap and into second place, demoting the Ferrari into third. Ferrari fought back though, Ginacarlo Fisichella crossed the line just a matter of tenths off the Porsche. After 24 hours, the top seven in GTLM, were split by just 7.5 seconds. The # Corvette took fourth ahead of the #69 Ford, #912 Porsche and #68 Ford.

Going into the final hour in GTD, it was a five way battle for the win; ultimately, it was the #28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche which took the win by just 0.293 seconds over the #29 Audi. The #33 Riley Motorsports Team AMG Mercedes crossed the line 5.5 seconds off the lead with the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi and the #86 Michael Shank Racing Acura rounding out the top five, all of which, were separated by just 10 seconds.

Jeff Gordon became the fourth driver in history to win both the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 after the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac took first place.

"This is very surreal to me, this whole experience and moment, to have this on my resume," said Gordon. "It's a very elite group that's won the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 together. That’s something I'm very, very proud of. But I think more than anything is this experience for me of – not to take anything away from 2007 [where he finished third] with Max and Jan [Magnussen] and Wayne [Taylor] – what amazing race car drivers both Ricky and Jordan are and how difficult this race is.

You know, this experience to me was about building this bond and this friendship that I didn't expect to happen because of the way they welcomed me in, and we had a lot of fun along the way, they answered all my questions because I had a lot of them, and they helped me adapt, and that’s what helped us as a group, I think, to go out there and win.

And then I was able to learn just how talented they are. I mean, I was so impressed while watching all night. I was glued to the TV every second, every lap. I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to watch these guys do what they did in the rain, in the cold, in the most treacherous conditions, and they did it at a level, that I'll be honest, I'm not capable of doing, and I was so impressed. Then you go to the last stint of a 24 hour race and you see it come down to that, and it was a thrill of a lifetime, and I’m just so honoured to be sitting here and be a part of this experience."

Gordon’s team mate, Max Angelleli will take retirement now that the race is done.

"I'm very happy. Happy for what I did and what I’ve achieved with the boys and Jeff today, to finish my career with a win, a big win like this one in the Rolex 24, it's great. You know, I'm thankful to the Taylors, the family." said Angelleli.

The biggest talking point of the final moments, has to be the coming together between Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque.

"The way I saw it, we came through GT traffic and I was closer than I had been" said Taylor. "He’d been struggling in turn one. Their car didn’t look very good there, and we were really strong on the brakes. I had thought about doing this for years and years, and this has always been something – people always open up after that little kink in turn one – they open their hands a little bit, and it’s just so easy to release the brake there and pop in there.

If you get enough alongside, you can make it work, and I think he saw me coming, he saw me committing, and he closed the door. If he knew I was committing, why would you close the door and make us crash?"

Understandably, Albuquerque saw things rather differently.

"It was a good fight until I got hit, to be honest,” said Albuquerque. “There is not much to say. I had some GTs ahead of me so I could not brake so late.

I closed the door and then I got spun. The officials took the decision, it is what it is, and we finished second. In Tour de France, when one guy falls, the other guys wait for him. This is a big race, and we dive in and brake late. It happens. We could see Wayne Taylor, the dad, with his hands on his head.

If he’s a true racer who did a mistake, just back off. Wait, don’t leave. And he left! A true racer, in my opinion, in the end, deep inside, I’d feel a little bit ashamed of the win."

After the previous four hours where barely anything happened, the last four-hour of racing have been packed with action. The fight for the lead in all the classes has tightened up completely as the rain has left the circuit, allowing for green racing to get back underway. #10 Wayne Taylor Racing still has the advantage as they lead the overall grid, but the gap between them and #5 Action Express Racing is getting very close. The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports have the Prototype Challenge class in the bag unless something goes wrong with their car in the last four hours. They have dominated the field throughout the 24-hour endurance race and thoroughly deserve to win their class today. It is still a fight between the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and the #62 Risi Competizione for the GT Le Mans win, but the top six in the GT Le Mans class is covered by just over five seconds. The GT Daytona lead keeps being handed between the #33 Riley Motorsport and the #86 Michael Shank Racing.

One hour and forty minutes passed until the last Full Course Yellow. The safety car period was so long that they had to swap the safety car over because the first car was running low on fuel. But once the rain had lightened off enough to get the race back underway everybody appeared to have a point to prove. Before the Full Course Yellow was lifted, VISIT FLORIDA Racing managed to get their car into the lead position. Sadly, the rest of the Prototype grid appear to be around 2 seconds slower than the Cadillacs, so as soon as the track started to dry out the #10 and #5 began to leave the #90 behind.

There were more issues for the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac. After Seb Morris had had such a good first stint the team’s race went downhill as they tried to deal with start-up issues. Within the last four hours, the car has been back in the pits a few times with power issues. It is a shame because Morris proved he had the speed and the talent to contend high up with the #31.

Due to so many people going off/straight on at the Bus Stop chicane, IMSA changed the penalty rule, claiming that whether or not you gained an advantage if a driver cut Bus Stop chicane they would be handed a penalty. The #90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing was the first to suffer this punishment, being handed a drive-through penalty after going straight through the escape road.

The top of the field is very close in GT Le Mans, but at the beginning of the four hours, it was the two Porsches who were holding a strong 1-2. Their pace in the wet/damp conditions was clearly superior to the rest of their class fields as they managed to hold onto the lead of the class throughout most of the evening’s running. The battle is now between Risi Competizione and Ford Chip Ganassi as it was yesterday, but both Porsches are still in contention to take the class win. Only a few second separate them from the leaders and the lead keeps trading hands.

Ending the four-hour block, another Full Course Yellow hit the track. Just racing around the track, the front bodywork of the #26 BAR1 Motorsport flew off the car, landing in two pieces on the track. The Full Course Yellow was brought out to clear the debris off the track. There was a second Full Course Yellow when the #15 3GT Racing car that had crashed quite a few times throughout the race ended up in the tyre barrier.

The cars have now raced over 500 laps, and thus far only six have been lost from the race. With just four hours of racing left, anything could happen. Make sure to stay tuned to @SpeedChillsView to get LIVE updates as the final few hours unfold.

For the last four hours of racing, the action has mainly been muted as the Full Course Yellow has dominated most of the running. For the last three hours there have been three Full Course Yellows, only one of which was for an on-track incident. The Yellows are being held out for so long as the marshals do not want to red flag the 24-hour endurance race. Red-flagging the race would mean they would have to restart, and that does not just mean sending the cars back out but maintaining all the different engines and getting them off running at optimum performance. The race would probably lose more time if they red flagged it, hence why there is such a long duration of Full Course Yellows.

The class leaders have not changed a great deal through the last four hours because of the Full Course Yellows. At the beginning of the four hours, Rene Rast managed to put the VISIT FLORIDA Racing Riley/Multimatic into the overall lead for the first time of the race. This lasted for about 45-minutes before the team pitted and fell behind the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing.

The VISIT FLORIDA #90 was aided in taking the overall lead as the #10 had a drive through penalty. They had pitted just before the first Full Course Yellow, which looked to have put them at an advantage. However, one of the Wayne Taylor mechanics jumped over the wall and started working on the car before the car had come to a complete stop. Due to this infringement of the rules, the #10 was handed the penalty.

After a long delay in the pits to undergo more repair work, the #88 Starworks Motorsport came back out on track from behind the wall. Still trying to repair the heavy damage incurred to the car when the #31 made contact with it, the team had had to pull the car back behind the wall. They are currently running on track but are very far down the field.

One of the Full Course Yellows, and the shortest, was brought out because of an incident on track. In the wet conditions, the #50 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG-GT3 spun the car, losing control and crashing nose first into the barrier on the outside of the track. There was heavy front and left-hand side damage on the Mercedes, causing sparks to kick up as the car limped back to the pits. It has not been confirmed that the #50 has come back out from behind the wall or in the garage; with the amount of damage on the car it is assumed it has not returned to the track.

In the three Full Course Yellows that were on the track within a time period of two hours, 11 and a half minutes of green-flag racing were completed. The teams have been using the lull in action to make any repairs they could to their cars. The #15 team have replaced the wheel fender that they taped together earlier, whilst #13 Rebellion changed the front nose on the ORECA and the #3 Corvette Racing car changed its brake discs.

There is hope that the racing will get underway soon but the rain is persistently falling. As long as they can get away with it, IMSA will continue to run this race under Full Course Yellows rather than Red Flagging it.

Whenever the action gets back underway, make sure you are following @SpeedChillsView so you do not miss a thing.

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