Kobayashi puts Toyota back on top in third Spa 6H practice
Toyota Gazoo Racing regained its position at the top of the timing screens in the third and final FIA World Endurance Championship practice session this morning at Spa on a drying track following morning showers, with the times tumbling at the end of the hour-long run.
The quickest lap came from Kamui Kobayashi at the very end of the session, a 2m08.702s, in the No. 7 GR010 HYBRID. It was a time seven-tenths faster than the rest of the Hypercar field, although it surely would have been eclipsed had there been any additional opportunities for flying laps from the other drivers. With each passing minute in the closing moments of the session, improvements were coming in thick and fast.
Kobayashi’s time came just after Earl Bamber put Cadillac Racing’s No. 2 V-Series.R to the top of the screens with a 2m09.436s.
Third overall was the fastest LMP2 runner, the No. 31 ORECA from Team WRT. Ferdinand Habsburg reeled off a rapid 2m10.268s to go better than Gabriel Aubry who also impressed with a late flyer to go second with Vector Sport.
Aubry’s late time was a 2m11.229s, which was good enough for fifth overall, just below the Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963, which enjoyed a very strong session. Will Stevens set the No. 38’s best time, a 2m10.434s.
It was a beneficial session for JOTA, which finally found pace and completed 22 laps with its brand-new car. It was also Antonio Felix da Costa’s first chance to get behind the wheel after missing Thursday’s action because of his Formula E simulator commitments with Porsche in Germany.
Sixth overall was the fourth-fastest Hypercar, the No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010, with a 2m11.344s from Ryo Hirakawa. The No. 3 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R, following its overnight engine change, completed the top five and ended the 60-minute session sixth overall. The team will be relieved to be up to speed so fast and to have completed 15 laps after missing most of Free Practice 2.
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In the GTE Am class, Iron Lynx’s No. 60 Porsche 911 RSR 19 set the pace with a 2m25.726s from Matteo Cressoni at the end of the session, the Italian improving on a previous class-topping lap from his teammate Alessio Picariello.
The No. 777 D’Station Aston Martin ended up second, with the No. 83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari making it three manufacturers in the top three.
There were only two significant incidents in the session, beyond a couple of spins, in the tricky conditions.
The first was an error from Lilou Wadoux, who had an off at Jacky Ickx corner, spinning at slow speed and sliding backwards into the tires in the No. 83. The car did eventually return to the session after being extracted from the gravel. The car was not damaged significantly from the impact, which will have come as somewhat of a relief for the AF Corse team, following yesterday’s FP2 incidents.
Fred Makowiecki also a minor off into the tires, sideswiping the barriers after a trip to the gravel at the bottom of the circuit in the No. 5 Porsche 963. He was able to continue without outside assistance and return to the pits for a check-up.
UP NEXT: Qualifying will get underway at 5:00pm local time.