SPA, Belgium – Toyota continued its impressive start to the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season by leading the first two practice sessions for this weekend’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Thursday.
Toyota kick-started its campaign with a narrow victory over Porsche at Silverstone two weeks ago, with the No. 8 TS050 Hybrid shared by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima clinching victory.
Toyota’s Thursday at Spa started with a setback when Jose Maria Lopez was ruled out of the weekend on medical grounds, owing to a minor injury from his shunt at Silverstone two weeks ago.
Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi were left to continue as a two-man team for the day, yet they made the most of it as they led FP1 and FP2 respectively in the No. 7 TS050 Hybrid.
Conway edged out the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid by just 0.036 seconds in the first session, before Kobayashi was able to pull out a half-second gap in FP2, with the No. 2 car posing the stiffest competition once again. Kobayashi’s time of 1:56.369 was the fastest of the day overall.
In LMP2, the CEFC Manor TRS Racing team swept to a one-two finish, with recent Formula 1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne turning in a fastest lap of 2:02.662. The Chinese-backed team finished a second clear of the competition, with Signatech Alpine finishing as the best of the rest in third.
Aston Martin was fastest in GTE Pro as Marco Sørensen recorded a best lap of 2:16.458 in the No. 95 Vantage GTE, finishing two-tenths clear of Kevin Estre’s lap in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR. Estre crashed at Les Combes midway through the session, but still ended the session P2, with the No. 67 Ford GT following in third.
GTE Am saw Spirit of Race lead in the No. 54 Ferrari 488 GTE courtesy of Miguel Molina, lapping 0.170 seconds faster than the No. 98 AMR entry.
Running continues on Friday at Spa with third practice and qualifying ahead of the race on Saturday.