Race Weekend Central

Kamui Kobayashi Fastest in First Practice Day of 2019-20 WEC Season

Friday (Aug. 30) saw the teams of the FIA World Endurance Championship return to the track for their first official on-track action of the 2019-2020 season. Despite the 10-week break since Le Mans, not a whole lot has changed. Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Kamui Kobayashi was fastest overall with a lap at 136.273 mph.

Practice No. 1

In the morning practice session, it was not a Toyota that was fastest overall. Instead, it was Rebellion Racing’s Norman Nato that was quickest with a lap at 133.498 mph in his Rebellion R13. Nato’s lap was four-tenths of a second faster than Sebastien Buemi in the No. 8 Toyota. Kobayashi was third fastest in the second Toyota, while Loic Duval was fourth in the second Rebellion R13. Team LNT’s Ginetta G60-LT-P1-AER with Guy Smith at the wheel was fifth, much closer to the pace than the Ginettas were previously.

LMP2 was dominated all day in both the WEC and the European Le Mans Series by United Autosports. Filipe Albuquerque was fastest in class in the team’s new ORECA 07-Gibson with a lap at 128.050 mph. Albuquerque’s lap was four-tenths of a second faster than COOL Racing’s Nicolas Lapierre. Job van Uitert in the Racing Team Nederland ORECA was third fastest, followed by Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Will Stevens. Andre Negrao in the Signatech Alpine was fifth.

GTE-Pro saw Porsche GT Team’s Gianmaria Bruni top the chart in the brand new Porsche 911 RSR-19, which is making its race debut this weekend. Bruni’s lap at 114.002 mph was three-tenths of a second faster than AF Corse’s James Calado in a Ferrari. Aston Martin Racing’s Marco Sorensen was third-fastest, followed by teammate Alexander Lynn.  Miguel Molina was fifth in the No. 71 Ferrari.

Finally, Silverstone sees the debut of new equipment in the GTE-Am class. Jonny Adam, driving a current generation Aston Martin Vantage AMR for TF Sport, was fastest in class with a lap at 113.176 mph. That lap was good enough for seventh out of the 17 GTE cars entered.

Adam’s lap was nearly six-tenths of a second faster than Aston Martin Racing’s Darren Turner, followed by the Ferrari of MR Racing’s Kei Cozzolino. Team Project 1 teammates Matteo Cairoli and Felipe Fraga were fourth and fifth in their Porsches.


Practice No. 2

In the afternoon session, speeds were up. Kobayashi’s quick lap in the session was two seconds faster than Nato’s best lap in the morning.

Kobayashi’s quick lap of the day was five-sixths of a second faster than Buemi in the second Toyota. Gustavo Menezes was third-fastest in the No. 1 Rebellion, just over a second off of Kobayashi’s pace. Nathanael Berthon in the No. 3 Rebellion was fourth, followed by Ben Hanley in the No. 5 Team LNT Ginetta.

In LMP2, United Autosports emerged undefeated on the speed charts for the day. Four sessions between the WEC and ELMS, four quick times. Teammate Paul Di Resta prevented Albuquerque from topping all four LMP2 sessions with a lap at 128.059 mph, just marginally faster than what Albuquerque turned in earlier in the day.

Di Resta’s lap was only two-hundredths of a second faster than High Class Racing’s Kenta Yamashita, running on Goodyear tires. Racing Team Nederland’s Giedo van der Garde was third, then Lapierre. Pierre Ragues in the Signatech Alpine was fifth.

GTE-Pro saw Calado fastest in his Ferrari with a lap at 114.264 mph, the best GTE lap of the day. Calado’s lap was one-sixth of a second faster than Porsche GT Team’s Richard Lietz. Molina was third in the second AF Corse Ferrari, followed by Michael Christensen in the second Porsche. Aston Martin Racing’s Nicki Thiim was fifth.

Ross Gunn, fresh off his IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge debut last weekend at VIR for Automatic Racing, was fastest in GTE-Am with a lap at 113.320 mph. This lap was a tenth of a second faster than the similar Aston Martin of TF Sport’s Charlie Eastwood. AF Corse’s Nicklas Nielsen was third in his Ferrari, followed by Cairoli and Cozzolino.


WEC teams have one more practice session scheduled for 4 a.m. ET Saturday morning. Qualifying is scheduled to go green at 6:50 a.m. and will be streamed live for subscribers at MotorTrendOnDemand.com.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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