SILVERSTONE – Porsche picked up where it left off at the end of its triumphant 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship campaign on Friday at Silverstone by scoring a one-two finish in both practice sessions.
The champion trio of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard arrived at Silverstone running with the no. 1 on their 919 Hybrid for the first time at a race weekend, and duly lived up to the hype by leading FP1 and FP2.
On a typically damp and dreary day at Silverstone, Bernhard set the early pace in the 919 Hybrid with a lap of 1:42.182 that was enough to give Porsche P1 in the first practice session in the afternoon.
Hartley then followed this up by recording a quickest lap of 1:39.665 in the evening on a drier track, giving Porsche an advantage of over 1.5 seconds over its rivals.
The no. 2 car shared by Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani slotted into P2 in both sessions, but stopped out on track in FP2 and sparked a full course yellow. However, it was eventually able to return to the pits under its own power.
Behind Porsche, Audi and Toyota appeared to be embroiled in a close battle to complete the podium judging by practice. Both manufacturers have overhauled their cars in a bid to close the gap at the front this year, but neither could finish any higher than third on Friday at Silverstone.
In LMP2, defending champions G-Drive Racing and British outfit Strakka shared the practice spoils, but it was the debutant Manor team that caught the attention of most. The no. 45 car finished fourth in FP1 before the no. 44 ended FP2 second in class, suggesting the Formula 1 transfer team will immediately be competitive in WEC.
Ferrari led the way in GTE Pro as its AF Corse team swept to a one-two finish in both sessions with the new 488 GTE cars, while the GTE Am squad running last year’s 458 Italia also ran strongly in first practice before Aston Martin Racing topped FP2.