Toyota and Ferrari top WEC Practice at Spa

Giovinazzi was quickest around the Spa-Francorchamps layout after the two 60-min sessions. Image: Paul Foster

#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P – Hybrid: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, Free Practice 1, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium

Toyota and Ferrari have topped a practice session each for Round 2 of the 2023 World Endurance Championship at Spa, Belgium.

The #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi was quickest around the Spa-Francorchamps layout after the two 60-min sessions, with Giovinazzi setting a 2:01.871s to top a red-flagged affected Practice 2 ahead of the #50 Ferrari’s 2:03.149s posted by Miguel Molina.

Toyota was on top after the opening session as the two teams took the top four spots, with Ryo Hirakawa driving the #8 Toyota GT010 to a 2:02.982s lap-time, with Molina again the second fastest, 1.650s behind in the #50 Ferrari.

The #7 Toyota’s best lap of 2:04.642 was third-best, with the #51 Ferrari in fourth courtesy of Giovinazzi’s 2:04.716s.

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The Penske Porsches were fifth and seventh in Practice 1, Andre Lotterer setting a 2:04.870s in the opening session, only for both cars to suffer issues in Practice 2 before any substantial running was achieved.

Lotterer was stranded on track in with an issue having completed only six laps, while the sister #5 Penske Porsche suffered driveshaft failure heading down to Eu Rouge – both cars going no further.

The event is the first for a customer-run Porsche 963, with the first non-factory example of the car running this weekend for Hertz Team Jota, running 22nd in Practice 1 and 12th in Practice 2, with a best of 2:06.711s.

The stunning gold Porsche is shared by Antonio Felix da Costa – who is yet to drive at Spa this weekend – Will Stevens and Yifei Ye, with Stevens having been at the wheel for the bulk of the car’s time on track so far.

The team stated earlier this week that it’s treating this event as a ‘test’, given the limited time it has had with the car, which was shaken down by factory driver, Australian Matt Campbell, at Weissach.

Also in trouble in Practice 2 was the #3 Sebastien Bourdais/Jack Aitken/Renge van der Zande Cadillac V-Series.R which stopped in track with van der Zande at the wheel.

The factory Peugeots finished a high of fifth, with Jean-Eric Vergne the fastest in #93 with a 2:05.180s, faster than the best Peugeot time of Practice 1, which was the #94’s 2:06.259s.

Earl Bamber was the fastest Cadillac driver, steering the #2 Cadillac Racing entry to sixth-fastest in Practice 1 before a 2:03.338s to be third fastest in Practice 2.

In LMP2, Felipe Albuquerque was fastest in the #22 Oreca Gibson 07 with a with a 2:02.471s ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi, but it was Robin Frijns who relegated the #22 to second place in Practice 2, the #31 Team WRT Oreca posting a 2:06.108s.

In GTE-AM, Daniel Serra set the fastest time in Practice 1 for Kessel Ferrari, with Davide Rigon topping the timesheets with a 2:15.736s in the #54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

Practice 3 starts at 11:00 local time/1900 AEST Friday April 28.

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