Toyota Clean Sweeps Practice

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.