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Lopez Fastest Overall, Priaulx Puts Ford Atop Pro In Final WEC Practice

Big off for Dalla Lana

Warm, but windy reflected the predicted race start conditions for tomorrow afternoon’s 1000 Miles of Sebring, bold driver commitment evident as set-ups were tested in anger and Sebring responded in its usual unforgiving style. Early excursions and yellow flags were in contrast to the comparatively calmer previous sessions.

Mike Conway recorded a 1:43.392 in the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid on its first full lap of the session but held on at the top only as long as it took Fernando Alonso to board the #8 Toyota, his 1:42.101 deposing his team British mate just a few laps later.

The #7 crew weren’t done though, Jose Maria Lopez again showing his agility around this tough stretch of concrete to post a 1:41.448 that would remain the fastest LMP1 and overall lap time for this shorter 1-hour session.

Ben Hanley’s Dragonspeed BR1 was the first of the other LMP1’s to break the 5-second gap the TSO50 Hybrids had established, and though the pair of Rebellion R13’s interrupted temporarily the #10 car replied with a 1:44.156 in the hands of Renger van der Zande towards the session end to place the car third overall.

The prototype entries were visibly bucking and pitching, in-car footage illustrating a particularly uncomfortable experience for drivers.

In LMP2 David Heinemeier Hansson’s #37 Jackie Chan DC ORECA caught the kerb on the exit of Turn 5 and was awkwardly pitched off track. As in all other classes, times had come down, quickest laps exchanged between the ORECAs of Anthony Davidson’s Dragonspeed #31 and Loic Duval’s TDS Racing #28 entries.

That was before the Racing Team Nederland Dallara took over at the top. However, Nyck De Vries continuing Dutch crew’s strong pace, despite the suspension incident that kept the #29 car out of FP2 last night.

The #38 Jackie Chan DC ORECA posted the eventual fastest lap of the LMP2 session, 1:48.353 in the hands of Gabriel Aubry.

In GTE Pro Andy Priaulx overcame an earlier off-track excursion to pump in a 1:57.730 and put the #67 Ford GT quickest, the two Porsche 911 RSR’s 0.3 seconds behind on almost identical lap times.

The other Ford GT was implicated in the first serious accident of this WEC round and Paul Dalla Lana’s GTE-Am Aston Martin became the first casualty of the meeting. The Canadian lost the car on turn in at Turn 17, clouting the tyre wall hard at its rear.

Bodywork damage was obvious, as was the skewed nature of the #98 car as it brought out a Full Course Yellow on its slow return to the WEC pits. Dalla Lana explained that Billy Johnson was on a slow exit of the pit lane the Canadian slewing the car sideways in his avoidance of the Ford.

The Aston Martin is apparently repairable but with limited time before this evening’s qualifying session we will see if the car makes the session, due to start at 9:30 pm local time.

The GTE-Am category was a Porsche 1-2-3 on times, Dempsey Proton Racing’s 911s posting the best laps ahead of the Project 1 Porsche in promising form at last. Matt Campbell’s 1:58.554 was the class best in the #77 car.

Qualifying starts at 21:30 local time tonight for the WEC teams.