Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Mike Conway set the pace in the opening practice of the 2017 World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Shanghai weekend, with a 1m47.182s early in the running to put the No. 7 TS050 HYBRID atop the times.
In the session, all four LMP1 factory hybrids lapped within eight tenths of each other, an encouraging sign heading into Sunday’s race. Behind Conway, was Nick Tandy in the No.1 Porsche 919, the Britain lapping the Chinese circuit in 1m47.414s. A late improvement by Earl Bamber in the final 20 minutes put the No.2 third.
Toyota’s second TS050 HYBRID ended up fourth, with a 1m47.929s.
At the top of the times in LMP2 was the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07 Gibson, Mathias Beche touring the circuit in 1m52.533s to put the Swiss-flagged outfit 0.5s clear of the field.
Completing the top three in P2 was the G-Drive Racing and No. 25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECAs. The star of the show was Nico Muller, who in what was his debut in the Russian-flagged 07 Gibson, set a 1m53.154s after just a handful of laps.
Just outside the leading trip was the TDS Racing ORECA, with the championship-leading No. 38 Jackie Chan DC ORECA completing the top five.
Topping GTE Pro was the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT, Stefan Mucke going quickest in the car, setting a 2m02.693s in the car 24 minutes before the end of the running. The flying lap came after the car was spotted out on track running slowly midway through the running.
The German’s lap put the Ford ahead of the leading Aston Martin Vantage, which came in second. Darren Turner set the pace in the team’s No.97 with a 2m03.181s. It was a notably better session for both of AMR’s cars, after struggling for pace at recent races, with the No.95 ending up fourth.
Third, ahead of the No. 95 Aston Martin was the No.91 Porsche 911 RSR, Fred Makowiecki putting it in the top three with a 2m03.191s.
It was a tougher sessions for AF Corse’s Ferraris; the No.51 and No.71 ending up seventh and eighth, 1.0 and 1.4 seconds off the ultimate pace set by Mucke.
GTE Am was better for Ferrari, the Spirit of Race 488 GTE going top with a Miguel Molina, the Fuji-winning crew finishing up 0.4s faster than the other runners with a 2m04.789s.
Behind, the No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche and No.98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage completed the top three.
While the running in FP1 was clean, it started 90 minutes late. Initially set to get underway at 11:00am local time, it was pushed back to 12:30am due to an issue with radio communications between radio control, the marshals and medical team on-site.
Free Practice 2 is set to begin on time at 15:30 local time.