WEC News: Ferrari 499Ps shine in Friday practice at Imola

Friday, the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola hosted the opening day of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship. The track program featured two free practice sessions, allowing the teams to begin preparations for Sunday’s 6 Hours of Imola.

The Ferrari 499Ps led the standings in both rounds, with Antonio Fuoco recording the day’s best time during Free Practice 2.

Free Practice 1. During the 90-minute morning session, with an air temperature of 16.8°C and the tarmac at 29.4°C, AF Corse team’s 499P number 83 posted the best time of 1:31.347 (recorded by Prancing Horse official driver Yifei Ye) after completing ten laps.

The first official Ferrari, the 499P number 50 driven by Fuoco, Molina, and Nielsen, finished second, just 0.156 seconds behind the leader, thanks to the benchmark time set by the Italian driver. At the checkered flag, the other Ferrari – AF Corse 499P, car number 51, crewed by Pier Guidi, Calado, and Giovinazzi, recorded the fifth fastest overall time, trailing by 0.718 seconds with Giovinazzi setting their best time. The official Prancing Horse Hypercars completed a total of 40 laps.

Free Practice 2. The Ferrari – AF Corse team also received positive feedback in the afternoon session, which lasted one hour and 30 minutes. The session ended with the 499P number 50 in first position, thanks to Fuoco’s time of 1:30.957. The “sister” car, number 51, finished ninth, with Calado stopping the clock at 1:32.627. The Ferrari number 83 came third, 374 thousandths of a second behind the leaders. Maranello official driver Robert Shwartzman set the benchmark time for the AF Corse crew.

Kevin Estre came closest, with a 1:31.299 in the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963, splitting the fastest Ferraris. The FP1-topping #83 ended up three-tenths off and third with a 1:31.331.

It was a better session for Toyota, with its #8 GR010 HYBRID ending the day with a best time of 1:31.729 to go fourth, half a second up on the #12 HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche 963 that rounded out the top five.

After producing a head-turning lap to go fourth fastest in FP1, the Lamborghini Iron Lynx SC63 could only manage the 15th fastest time in the second 90-minute session, lapping fractionally quicker than the Cadillac.

There’s been a lot of head-scratching for the Ganassi crew thus far, the team struggling to find a set-up that works despite having reportedly tested in similar conditions here last year.

The #5 Porsche also failed to show outright pace, ending up 18th and two seconds off the benchmark time.

In LMGT3 TF Sport once again took the headlines with Charlie Eastwood setting a 1:41.986 in the #81 Corvette Z06 LMGT3.R. It would be the only time under 1:42 in the class.

This time though it was not a 1-2 for the GM brand, as the #55 Vista AF Corse 488 LMGT3 ended up second, lapping faster than the #82 TF Sport Corvette which slotted in third.

Heart of Racing was fourth, with the #54 AF Corse Ferrari fifth.

Elsewhere, there was trouble for United Autosports. Its #59 McLaren GT3 EVO would finish the day at the bottom of the times after suffering an oil leak which limited the car to just eight laps in the session.

Track action continues for the WEC teams tomorrow morning with Free Practice 3 at 11:10 local time.

Free Practice 2 Times

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