Kobayashi and Conway on Top, Locks Out Front Row for 6 Hours of Spa
Stoffel Vandoorne would be first on track for SMP Racing, but would immediately have his lap compromised by being passed by the number 7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi. Toyota would run soft tyres early in an effort to get a banker in case rain began to fall.
By the time the second drivers were out, so were the umbrellas. This didn’t deter Mike Conway in the number 7 car, who would go purple in the first sector, only to lose three tenths in the middle sector. That said, to be within 58-thousandths of a second of the outright LMP1 lap record was nothing to sneeze at and would be enough to take pole ahead of the sister car and the number 17 SMP entry some 9-tenths of the leading pace.
The number 3 and 1 Rebellion entries would take fourth and sixth respectively, split by the number 11 SMP entry of Vandoorne and VItaly Petrov.
Jackie Chan DC Racing’s number 37 and 38 entries would take the early initiative, being split by the sole Signatech Alpine entry of Andre Negrao. Will Stevens marker for the Ango-Chinese outfit would however be undercut by the number 26 G-Drive entry of Jean-Eric Vergne – who described his lap as the “best of his career”.
Tom Dillman’s run in the number 4 ByKolles entry would come to a premature end, bringing out the red flag just as rainfall began to increase.
Adhering to the track limits would be key given the penalty for falling foul of the stewards would mean a long return lap before getting the opportunity to set another time.
The length of Spa also meant that both LMP1 and GTE sessions would be extended to twenty-five minutes. This was of little concern to the number 70 MR Racing Ferrari though, when Japanese driver Motoaki Ishikawa got it all run under compression through Eau Rouge and clouting the barriers at Raidillon.
Giancarlo Fisichella turned in an early quick lap in the number 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari to lock provisional pole in LMGTE Am, whilst Alex Lynn topped Aston Martin teammate Nicki Thimm to lead the way in LMGTE Pro.
However with eight minutes remaining, BMW Team MTEK would show their hand, with Antonio Felix Da Costa undercutting Harry Tincknell’s number 67 Ford GT by three tenths of a second. Maxime Martin hit back briefly before Andy Priaulx upped Tincknell’s average with fourteen seconds left on the clock to head Aston Martin and BMW.
The number 90 TF Aston Martin of Charlie Eastwood would take LMGT Am pole ahead of the number 88 Dempsey Proton Porsche of Matteo Cairoli; who scored a new GTE Am individual lap record. Third was the number 56 Team Project Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister.
Images: Toyota GAZOO Racing
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