Before Free Practice on Friday afternoon there was a private test session during the morning that saw the #8 Race Performance Oreca Judd set the fastest time, a 1:34.829 for LMP2 newcomer Fabian Schiller, the winner of the 2016 Renault Sport Trophy Am class.
LMP3 was topped by Nigel Moore in the #26 Tockwith Ligier, fourth fastest overall with a lap in 1:37.350, ahead of the LMP2 #25 Algarve Pro Ligier.
The first of the Team AAI BMW M6 GT3, the #91 car in the hands of Phillip Eng, set the fastest time in the GT ranks with a 1:38.873 ahead of a pair of Ferraris, the #3 DH Racing and #37 Team BBT 488 GT3s setting identical times (1:39.016).
There was damage for the Aylezo Ecotint Ginetta after a clash with the TKS Porsche Cup car, the Ginetta hitting the rear of the 911 hard after the GT car braked into T4, not normally a corner that needs braking! The prototype suffered broken front bodywork.
Free Practice 1
26 of the 27 entrants set a time in the 90 minute session which saw a red flag in the middle part of the session after a clash into T1 between the #24 Algarve Pro Ligier and #26 Tockwith Ligier saw the LMP3 car into the gravel.
There was trouble too for the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca, the P2 car setting the fastest time of the session in the early running (1:34.486) before the car came to a stop at T11, the right rear suspension having failed. Thomas Laurent would end the session under tow, the car playing no further part on track, but finishing the session still fastest overall a couple of tenths clear of the #25 Algarve Pro Ligier with the sister #24 car just behind and the Race Performance Oreca Judd rounding out the top 4, the four LMP2s separated by under three tenths, second through fourth by under a single tenth!
The #26 Tockwith Ligier topped LMP3, a 1:37.159 for Nigel Moore four tenths up on early session leader PRT Racing whose Ginetta would still finish the session second, the British built car reported by Moore to be “much faster in a straight line than our car, I came onto the straight behind one of them and it pulled out 5 lengths from me easily.”
Phillip Eng put the #91 BMW to the top of the GT pile a 1:38.484 over half a second up on the best of the rest, the #37 Team BBT Ferrari.
Eng’s time was enough to stay ahead too of all but the leading pair of LMP3s with the #99 WinEurasia Ligier then the #7 ARC Bratislava and #60 Aylezo Ecotint Ginetta third through fifth.