The extended 4 hours and 30 minute afternoon session again saw LMP2 cars on top as the two Hypercar teams continued to maintain that the times seen here thus far, complete with significantly slower second sector times by comparison with the leading LMP2s, is their real pace.
The session sadly saw another red flag stoppage early in the afternoon’s running with a pair of cars in trouble at the same time, though in separate incidents:
Sean Galael with a big accident at Raidillon that left Jota rebuilding the #28 Oreca around a spare tub.
The #46 Team Project 1 Porsche into the barriers at Bruxelles after an incident for Anders Buchardt, the car not emerging for the remainder of the day.
The session was ended, 10 minutes earlier than scheduled for a fifth Red Flag of the day to allow recovery of the #31 Team WRT Oreca at Speakers Corner, the car believed to have run out of fuel.
The session was again headed by the #22 United Autosports LMP2 Oreca, Phil Hanson banging in a 2:04.822 that would finish the session just a thousandth of a second ahead of Job van Uitert’s time in the #29 Racing Team Nederland car, the #29 bringing out a Full Course Caution at one point after the car was another believed to have run out of fuel!
Team WRT’s Oreca sat third at the session end with the #36 Alpine again the faster of the two Hypercars that circulated, a 2:05.230 the best time from the 930 kilo, 600 bhp grandfathered LMP1 against the fastest of the 950 kilo, 530 bhp LMP2s, both running of course on low drag, low downforce aero packages.
The #8 Toyota was a couple of tenths slower with a 2:05.4, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team maintaining again that this was the pace they expected at this point and that they also expected to get quicker as the week progressed. One would hope so!
The sister #7 car once again saw next to no meaningful track action, the car emerging just before the final red flag to complete a handful of laps after a lengthy spell in the garage to fix what was described as a “hydraulic and electrical issues which unfortunately affected parts which required very long replacement time in the garage.”
GTE Pro was headed by the #92 Porsche with a 2:14.304 from Kevin Estre, three tenths ahead of the best effort from the #52 Ferrari of Miguel Molina, the GTE Pro quintet separated by eight-tenths of a second with the #56 Team Project 1 GTE Am leading Porsche in the midst of the Pro pack, Matteo Carol again posting a reminder of his pace!
Behind the #56 was a train of five Ferraris in GTE AM, headed by the #83 AF Corse car, Alessio Rovera at the wheel, before the next Porsche, this the #86 GR Racing machine.
It’s been a day of damaged cars and learning for the 2021 FIA WEC pack, here’s hoping that one of the learning points is not to knee-jerk into any further BoP decisions on the basis of Monday’s proceedings!