In today’s WEC qualifying session at Spa, Kamui Kobayashi toped the overall timing, behind the wheel of Toyota’s Hypercar number 7, being more than one second faster than their hypercar opponent: Alpine and almost two seconds faster than any other LMP2.
Around this specific circuit, drivers had to be specifically attentive to not cross the track limits and see their times being deleted as Spa is known to be very cruel and hard to master when it comes to track limits, at the exit of the raidillion, for example.
Earlier this week, some drivers like United Autosport’s Filipe Albuquerque complained about tire temperatures and how hard it was to find the right temperature window, due to the aero package LMP2 cars are using, here in Belgium. Luckily for them, the track temperature decreased a lot in the afternoon, making the prototypes way easier to handle. On the other hand, GT cars were struggling a bit more than usual to heat up their rubbers, for the same reason.
At the beginning of the GT qualifying session, Christian Ried, competing in GTE Am, ended his course in a wall, right up the Raidillion. The session was red-flagged and the Porsche number 77 suffered tremendous damages. The driver was thankfully okay.
This accident forced the rest of the GT grid to adapt their strategies as they just had 7 minutes left before the end of the session, at the restart. Moreover, with so little time, there is almost no space left for error as the GT qualifying session almost transformed into a single-lap qualifying session.
The exact same accident, unfortunately, happened to Egidio Perfetti, right at the restart, during his out-lap. The red flag was once again pulled out, this time, with 6 minutes remaining. For the reasons mentioned before, drivers were lacking in time and had to start pushing during their out-lap if they wanted to exploit the session as much as possible. This combined with cold tires caused the Perfetti to lose control of his Porsche number 56 at the exit of the Raidillon.
After two unexpected events, the session was finally resumed and took on the appearance of a normal session. Kevin Estre claimed the pole position in the GT category for the Porsche number 92 being more than 1 second faster than all his opponents. The Ferraris and the Porsche shared the first four places. The Corvette number 63 was a bit behind his GTE Pro opponents. The fastest GTE AM competitor is the TF Sports number 33, standing in 6th place.
The second qualifying session of the day, involving LMH and LMP2 cars was the most awaited one as it was still unsure if the LMP2 were faster than the Hypercars or not. This would have been a shame for WEC if it was the case as they would probably have had to change their rulebook to be coherent with the new era of endurance racing.
Both Toyota’s Hypercars were the first to set a time in the session. Alpine took more time to go out on track and set a time, keeping the suspense alive. The French team started their lap so late that they just had the opportunity to set a single lap, which was not enough to catch up with their Japanese opponents.
The LMP2 battle was also raging on as United Autosport and G-drive were extremely close to each other throughout the season, before Filipe Albuquerque ended the debate, setting up a lap time of 2:02.404, lapping Spa’s circuit half a second faster than Nick De Vries.
|Hypercars||Toyota Gazoo Racing||7||2:00.747|
|GTE Pro||Porsche GT Team||91||2:11.219|
|GTE Am||TF Sport||33||2:14.660|