Porsche powers to 1-2 in final Nürburgring WEC practice

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NÜRBURGRING – After trailing Audi in both sessions on Friday, Porsche hit back to top final practice for the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying.

Porsche was narrowly edged out by Audi’s no. 7 car in FP1 and FP2 on Friday, but made an early impression by lapping a full second quicker than Friday’s benchmark in the first ten minutes of FP3.

Eventually, it was the no. 18 car of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani that finished at the top of the timesheets, six-tenths of a second clear of the sister no. 17 Porsche.

After seeing Dumas post a quickest lap of 1:36.7s, Lieb managed to find an extra seven-tenths of a second during his early stint to break Audi’s stranglehold on P1 at the Nürburgring.

However, it was not all plain sailing for the no. 18 car as a run-in with the no. 83 AF Corse runner left both cars with damage and a visit to the stewards’ office later in the day.

Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber shared driving duties for FP3 in the no. 17 Porsche, with the latter’s lap of 1:36.647 being enough to secure him second place.

Audi managed to keep the pressure on Porsche by finishing third and fourth, one second down on the top time. The no. 8 car of Loic Duval, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis finished third ahead of the no. 7, which could only finish P4 overall.

Toyota one again struggled for pace, finishing fifth and sixth. However, with the team’s attention already turning to 2016, much of its work this weekend will be about preparing as best possible for the future.

In LMP2, Strakka Racing managed to break G-Drive’s dominance from Friday by finishing fastest. The no. 42 car of Nick Leventis, Jonny Kane and Danny Watts posted a fastest lap of 1:45.720 to finish less than one-tenth of a second clear of the KCMG no. 47 at the end of the session.

AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing continued their close fight in GTE Pro in FP3, and were joined in the mix by Porsche. Defending champions Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni finished fastest in the no. 51 AF Corse car, but with just six-tenths of a second separating the three manufacturers, a close battle is on the cars for qualifying later today.

GTE Am saw the no. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing car of Khaled Al Qubaisi, Earl Bamber and Chirstian Ried finish fastest, even managing to beat three of the GTE Pro cars. The no. 98 Aston Martin Racing car finishing half a second back in second place despite suffering a tire blow, whilst AF Corse’s no. 83 rounded out the top three.

Qualifying for the 6 Hours of Nürburgring takes place later today, with the race starting at 1pm CET on Sunday.