The third and final FIA World Endurance Championship practice session at Spa, finished with a surprising result, Rebellion Racing’s No. 1 R-13 running quickest, after a 1m57.120s lap of the world-famous Belgian circuit from Neel Jani.
The Swiss-flagged team’s new Gibson-powered cars actually sat 1-2 for the majority of the hour-long session, before the No. 7 Toyota posted a lap fast enough to split the pair up. Mike Conway put the No. 7 TS050 HYBRID second, after a 1m57.939s with 19 minutes remaining.
It must be noted, though, that the times set by the lead Rebellion are a second off the fastest lap set by a Toyota on Friday, which was a 1m56.172s, and a long way off last year’s times set by the Japanese marque’s challenger. Toyota clearly wasn’t performing qualifying simulations during the morning’s track time.
Jani’s time was, however, nearly two seconds faster than the R-13’s previous best time this weekend, which was a 1:58.8 during FP1.
Behind the No. 3 R-13, just outside the top there was the first of the SMP Racing BR1 AER, Stephane Sarrazin setting its best time, a 1m58.398s. The No. 8 sister Toyota finished up fifth, 1.3 seconds off the best time in the session.
Once again, only eight of the 10 LMP1 cars set times during Free Practice 3. CEFC TRSM Racing’s Ginetta G60-LT-P1s went out for installation laps, but unfortunately, neither car has set a competitive time so far this week. It remains to be seen whether the Chinese-flagged team will head out for qualifying, or indeed the race tomorrow at this point.
In LMP2, the Michelin-shod No. 31 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 Gibson continues to be the class of the field in terms of raw pace, especially with Pastor Maldonado at the wheel, who in this instance, set a 2m02.281s, his best time of the meeting and the fastest LMP2 time of the weekend so far.
Behind, the No. 26 G-Drive ORECA slotted in second, with the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing 07 Gibson third.
In the class, there were two cars which suffered with issues: The Signatech Alpine A470 of Nicolas Lapierre briefly pulled off the track to reset the car’s systems, and the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA ran slowly toward the end of the session with Jazeman Jaafar behind the wheel.
GTE Pro saw Ford lead the way again, the No. 67 setting a 2m13.693s at the hands of Andy Priaulx.
The bigger headline, though, was the No. 82 BMW M8 setting a time good enough for second. Tom Blomqvist was to thank for the car’s improved pace, the car managing a 2m14.225s, over two seconds faster than the brand’s previous best on Friday. Needless to say, MTEK will be encouraged at the potential the car has for qualifying later today.
The second of the Fords ended up third, with the fastest Porsche, the No. 92, finishing up just outside the top three.
The Dempsey Proton team finished up 1-2 in Am, the No. 77 leading the No. 88 in the times with a 2m15.410s.
NEXT UP: Qualifying at 3:00 p.m. local time in Belgium.