WEC 6 Hours of Spa FP1

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.