Timo Bernhard in the #2 Porsche LMP Team 919 Hybrid set the fastest time in Free Practice 1, to kick off the on-track action at the Nürburgring. The Le Mans winner’s 1:41.612 flying lap came at the end of the running, to move above the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 and snatch the top spot.
Bernhard’s time was two tenths clear of Sebastien Buemi’s time in the #8 Toyota, which was set just 10 minutes into the session but stood at the top of the screens until the closing minutes. The #1 Porsche completed the top three in LMP1 after Neel Jani set a 1:41.896 with just 18 minutes left to push the #7 Toyota to fourth.
Leading the way in LMP2 was the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07 of Bruno Senna, the Brazilian emerging quickest in the 11-car class with a 1:47.717. The car was involved in a collision five minutes before the end of the session at Turn 5 though, bringing out red flags, cutting the running short.
Julian Canal was in the #31 at the time of the incident, which involved himself and the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche of Marvin Dienst. DSC understands that Canal went up the inside at Turn 4, and as the circuit narrowed the rear-left wheel hit Dienst’s right-hand-side door sending him onto the grass on the outside. Out of control, Dienst then careered into Canal again at Turn 5, sending the ORECA into the gravel.
The #31 Rebellion will not take part in FP2 due to radiator and bodywork damage, while the Porsche will be repaired in time and both go out. There’s no further action, and both drivers are thankfully ok.
The DSC editor pictured the #77 coming back to the paddock on a flatbed, with front-end damage.
Second in the class was the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA of after a best time set by Pierre Thiriet with 70 minutes remaining of the 90. The Frenchman’s tour was six tenths back from Senna’s, a 1:48.379. The #28 TDS Racing ORECA ended up third, with the #38 Le Mans-winning Jackie Chan DC Racing car fourth, both were within a second of the Rebellion’s time. The #25 Manor 07 Gibson returned to its garage fifth, just over a second off.
The sister CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca – the #24 – had a tougher time, the car only managing 12 laps after spending most of the session in the garage after Jonathan Hirschi took the car out early in the session and crawled back to the pits with electrical issues. It’s best time at the end was a 1:50.166 to go 10th in the class, ahead of the Tockwith Motorsports Ligier – the only non-ORECA in the field. The best time from the team’s JS P217 was 3.9 slower than the best time in FP1.
In GTE Pro, Davide Rigon in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari led the way, with a 1:57.170, 0.137 ahead of the competition. The time was set early, with few drivers managing to improve their best times in the second half of the session. The #92 Porsche ended up second with a 1:57.307 by Kevin Estre, ahead of the #51 AF Corse 488 GTE in third.
It was very tight between the teams though, with the entire class within 1.054 of each other.
The #77 Dempsey Porsche, which was involved in the incident at the end of the session had its best time set by Matteo Carol who managed a 1:59.208, faster than the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari in second by 0.138, and the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche by 0.162.
Free Practice 2 at the Nürburgring is set to begin at 16:15 local time.