Hartley keeps Toyota on top in final Portimao practice

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Hartley keeps Toyota on top in final Portimao practice

Le Mans/WEC

Hartley keeps Toyota on top in final Portimao practice


Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 8 GR010 HYBRID set the pace in the third and final practice session of the weekend in Portimao ahead of qualifying, with a 1m31.795s from Brendon Hartley.

The Kiwi’s time came after a flurry of fast times from the hypercar runners in the opening 10 minutes, where Ferrari’s Alessandro Pier Guidi briefly topped the screens.

The pack was closer during this session as a whole, with the No. 51 Ferrari AF Corse 499P splitting the two Toyotas in the running order with Pier Guidi’s quickest lap. The top seven were also within 1.2 seconds.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign from this final 60-minute practice run was the improvement in outright speed from Peugeot’s 9X8s. To this point, both of the French manufacturer’s cars had struggled to make an impression with lap times, but in FP3 the No. 94 was able to set the fourth fastest time, a 1m32.783s from Nico Müller which was within a second of the No. 8’s benchmark. It was also over a second faster than any lap set by the 9X8 on Friday.

That meant the No. 94 was quicker than the No. 50 Ferrari, the Cadillac and both Penske Porsches, plus the two non-hybrid runners. Will Peugeot’s knowledge of the circuit with the 9X8 from testing, plus its upgraded gearbox put it in the mix when we see the cars gunning for pole later today?

The top five in the standings was completed by the Cadillac Racing V-Series.R, ahead of the Vanwall which set an impressive 1m32.922s to go sixth.

The pair of Penske Porsches continued to struggle for outright speed, its 963s ending up eighth and ninth, though the team, like Ferrari, has been focusing on improving the car’s tire wear on longer runs during the on-track sessions thus far. It will be interesting to see what times the 963 is capable of in qualifying, with new tires and low fuel.

LMP2, meanwhile, was topped yet again by Vector Sport, which set the pace in Free Practice 2 yesterday. The British team appears far more at home here than it did in Sebring, Gabriel Aubry extracting good times from its ORECA.

His best on this occasion was a 1m34.265s, to put him marginally quicker than the first of the two WRT ORECAs — the No. 41 — which slotted in second and third with their hot laps.

The No. 48 HERTZ Team JOTA 07 was fourth, with the No. 22 United example fifth.

In GTE AM, the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO ensured a Ferrari topped each session ahead of Qualifying this weekend. The quickest tour of the track was set by Davide Rigon, a 1:40.426.

The Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari ended up second, with the first of the other manufacturer customer teams, Iron Dames, third. The FP1 and FP2-topping Kessel Ferrari would end up fifth, behind the Iron Lynx Porsche.

The session featured a handful of incidents, including a red flag with 24 minutes remaining after a collision at the hairpin. Gustavo Menezes in the No. 94 Peugeot 9X8 collided with the No. 25 Alpine ORECA while trying to get past up the inside.

The hit damaged the left rear of the ORECA, puncturing Memo Rojas’ tire, which did damage to the bodywork while he tried to limp back to the pits. Unfortunately, Rojas was unable to make it all the way back, stopping on track, and bringing the session to a halt while trackside crews lifted the car onto a flatbed.

This came moments after a spin for the other Alpine, being driven by Julien Canal at the time, at the hairpin, which caused minor contact between the Iron Dames Porsche and No. 28 JOTA ORECA which were trying to avoid the Alpine that was stranded facing the wrong way at the corner exit.

Next up is qualifying, which is due to get underway at 3:30pm local time.