The Lusail International Circuit was buzzing with excitement after an exhilarating start to the Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 KM, the season-opener of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2024, taking place for the first time in Qatar.
On Thursday, the drivers got a feel of the high-speed Lusail circuit during a practice session. Fans witnessed drivers from FIA World Endurance Championship, Qatar Touring Car Championship and Lusail Classic offering a full spectrum of motor racing excellence. Elite drivers acquainted themselves with the circuit’s state-of-the-art facilities and high-speed turns, setting the stage for a thrilling qualifying round today and the main race tomorrow.
Porsche Penske maintained advantage in the second free practice session as Kevin Estre became the first driver to go under the 100-second barrier with a fastest lap of 1m39.900s.
The No 6 Porsche Penske 963 Hybrid Hypercar led the chasing packs by 0.782 seconds from the No 93 Peugeot TotalEnergies 9X8. Jean-Eric Vergne set the best time of 1m40.772s.
Team JOTA grabbed third position as former Formula One champion Jenson Button set 1m40.782s to maintain impressive pace for Porsche customer team so far in 2024. Cadillac made it three manufacturers in the top four as Alex Lynn posted a 1m40.986s lap in blue Cadillac V Series R Hypercar
No 5 Porsche Penske 963 with Matt Campbell behind the wheels ended the session in fifth place ahead of the second Team JOTA with a 1m41.328s made by team newcomer Callum IIott
Fastest Ferrari in FP2 was the No.51 499P driven by Antonio Giovinazzi. The 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours winner put in a best lap of 1m41.426s. Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest Toyota time as he lapped in a best of 1m41.539s in the No 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar to register eighth best time.
The No 94 Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar and the No 83 AF Corse Ferrari entry completed the top 10 as Stoffel Vandoorne and Yifei Ye set the times respectively
Of the new manufacturer entries in Hypercar for 2024, the Lamborghini SC63 Hypercar ended the session best placed in 12th, with Alpine 14th and 17th and the BMW M Hybrid V8s in 15th and 18th
The session saw one red flag when the Isotta Fraschini Hypercar has to be extracted from the Turn 6 gravel in the first half of the running
The LMGT3 category showcased equally impressive performances. Vista AF Corse took a 1-2 formation at the top of the times in FP2 with the No 55 Ferrari 296 LMGT3 heading the No.54 machine by just under 0.3s
Simon Mann (1m55.190) and Francesco Castellacci (1m55.445) set the times as the Prancing Horse continued its consistently quick times in Qatar. Team WRT was placed third with the No 31 M4 LMGT3 car, as Sean Gelael makes progress up the pecking order
Aston Martin were fourth with the D’Station Vantage as Erwan Bastard maintained his impressive introduction to the WEC with a time of 1m55.549s
The third free practice session at Lusail International Circuit is scheduled for 11am today morning.
This year’s lineup features an unprecedented 19 Hypercars and 18 LMGT3 entries from 14 manufacturers, including industry giants like Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche. The world’s premier racing talents are set to deliver electrifying performances in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s season opener, racing in two categories (Hypercar and LMGT3) for nearly ten hours.
On Thursday, there was a nostalgic presence too as the Lusail Classic Endurance Race reminded fans of the golden age of World Endurance Championship racing. In the 60-minute practice session, 24 veteran drivers from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Lichtenstein, Portugal, Switzerland, and the USA competed, reviving the spirit of prototype and GT racing from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.
Kyle Tilley, driving the 1974 Chevron B27S, set the pace with the fastest lap of 2:01.427. Tony Sinclair, in the 1973 Lola T292, followed with a close second lap time of 2:07.685, and Jamie Constable, driving the 1971 Chevron B19, completed the top three with a lap of 2:07.872.
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