LMES – Silverstone – Friday Morning Report
Similar, But Faster

It’s overcast this morning, but dry, and rain looks less likely than yesterday.

A low 1.38 from Robbie Kerr yesterday became a 1:36.705 this morning, in the second and last free practice session – with the McNish / Kaffer Audi just 14 thousandths slower, and the other Veloqx car only three-tenths slower. The Goh car had been fixed and was only another three tenths slower than that. Johnny Herbert and Allan McNish set the times in the two purple / silver R8s.

Tommy Erdos found some real form in the RML Lola, fifth fastest, and less than two seconds slower than Kerr in the Zytek. The conventional LMP1s neatly filled out the top ten – in the order Creation, Rollcentre, Jota, Lister and Nasamax.

Chris Dyson was just as happy as yesterday, perhaps more so with ten laps of the track under his belt this morning. “We’re making slight adjustments, but it was very good out of the truck. It helps for me to look at Robbie’s trace, so I’m picking up time very quickly.” Chris pointed out that Dyson engineer Peter Weston was on his ‘phone (for some considerable time) to his “male wife, James”. Can you guess who that could be? James, you should be here to see all this.

Joao Barbosa was much happier than yesterday. “We had the wrong tyres yesterday: they went away very quickly. But we’ve got different tyres on today, and we’ve made some minor changes, so the car is much better. We’ve got much more grip.”

It was Pat Pearce who was eased onto the grass at Woodcote yesterday, not Barbosa. Pearce got three laps in this morning, and was finding the track very busy as expected, but he was gaining confidence with every lap.

The Lister was in a minor spot of trouble – both yesterday and today: plug leads. A later design of lead was causing a misfire, so a team member has been despatched to Kent to collect replacements – which should arrive in time for qualifying this afternoon. The handling of the car is very good.

The LMP1 we haven’t mentioned yet is the Lola-Caterpillar – but Calum Lockie was a very happy chappie: “It’s running beautifully this morning, and the handling is the best we’ve had it. I set a 1:51 this morning, but there’s more to come, maybe a 47 or 48. Overall, hugely improved. This is what we need, some reliable running.”

LMP2 was hotting up, with both Courage C65s in the 1:44s, about a second and a half slower than the Nasamax, which seems to be about right. The K2 Pilbeam wasn’t sent out to do a time, the team working away on the set-up. Pullan was suitably pleased with his time yesterday, but admitted to being “a bit of a pansie through Stowe. There’s loads of time in me and the car.”

Tracsport were happy – in the form of John Ingram and Rick Pearson. “The car is excellent,” said the latter. “It’s the drivers getting up to speed, not the car. We’re picking up two seconds in each session.”

GTS was Vitaphone and Larbre, separated by a few tenths – but Thomas Biagi was within a few tenths in the faster #61 Barron Connor Ferrari. This one has some aerodynamic updates for this race, although to confuse matters slightly, the numbers have been swapped over, so this one is the #62 from earlier this season.

“We’ve got a revised diffuser and front splitter modifications on the Biagi car,” explained Mark Koense. “Nothing major – but we don’t need anything major.” A few moments before the end of the session, Biagi was faster than the Larbre 550, but either Bouchut or Lamy put in a quick one at the end.

Deletraz had a grassy off yesterday in the unmodified #62, which Andrea Piccini sampled this morning for the first time. He’s here because Mike Hezemans is recovering from the ‘flu: the team hasn’t yet made a decision as to whether Piccini will actually race #62. Hezemans looks under par, but was out this morning, but found that “the brakes weren’t too good.” He’ll be racing at Zolder next week, and describes the 24 hours there as “the toughest 24 hour race – there’s no rest for the driver at all.”

Apparently it cost 5 Euros to spectate there – and the crowd is huge. A lesson there perhaps?

Wolfgang Kaufmann was happy with progress with the A-Level Porsche – until he saw the speed trap figures. “We’re 8mph down on top speed. We badly need larger restrictors. But step by step the car is getting better. I think we could get into the 1:51s on new rubber.” A 1:52.9 was his best this morning, in a quick few laps at the end of the session, Eric van de Poele having been at the wheel for most of the 45 minutes.

Phil Bennett had his first try in the GNM Saleen – getting in with six minutes of the session left. “It’s OK, I had plenty of time in the car at the Nurburgring.”

GT was Cirtek, JMB, JWR, then Pompidou in the repaired Sebah 911, then the purple TVR – 1.7 seconds quicker than yesterday, but the Cirtek RSR was 1.9 seconds quicker than the Freisinger GT fastest yesterday.

Mike Jordan vacated the JWR RSR five minutes before the end of the session, Johnny Mowlem heading out on fresh rubber. “We’re sixth quickest now, but we’ll be third in a few moments….” And do you know, Jordan was absolutely spot on, Mowlem setting a 1:54.490 on his only flying lap. Sadly for JWR, the Maassen / Jones Porsche was quickest in GT by 1.1 seconds.

Next up are the two qualifying sessions - at 13.05 and 17.45.


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