Photo Above: Jakob Ebrey Photography / Europeanlemansseries.com
Friday’s 90-minute Free Practice 2 session took place under grey and cold skies initially although it did brighten up as the session progressed.
Fastest time in the new-look LMP2 category was set by Ben Hanley with a 1:44.647 in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07, a car he shares with Henrik Hedman and Nicolas Lapierre. Second quickest, with a 1:44.856 was the #40 Graff ORECA 07 driven by Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Richard Bradley, with Bradley setting the time.
Third fastest in a largely uneventful session was the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 driven by William Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer and Filipe Albuquerque with a 1:45.742 set by Albuequerque.
Overall, times looked to be about 4 seconds a lap quicker in comparison with times set by the 2016-spec cars last year. Weather in 2016 was extremely variable so it is difficult to draw exact conclusions.
In the LMP3 class, it was 2016-class champions United Autosports who once again showed the way with its #3 Ligier JS P3 setting a time of 1:55.101 with Wayne Boyd behind the wheel. Panis Barthez Compétition was second quickest with 1:55.425 set by Simon Gachet in the #16 Ligier JS P3 he shares with Eric Debard and Théo Bean.
Third quickest, and completing a Ligier lock-out at the top of the time-sheets was the sister #2 United Autosports entry with a 1:55.804 set by John Falb in a car he shares with Sean Rayhall.
In the LMGTE field, Darren Turner set the quickest time with a 2:00.517 in the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The car was not without its issues though as it was in the garage during the session with gear-box problems. Team owner Andrew Howard commented that, although practice in changing gear-boxes was always useful, due to the limited practice the teams get, he would have much preferred to have the car on the track putting in laps.
Qualifying for the 2017 4 Hours of Silverstone, split into 3 ten-minute sessions for each class begins at 14:05.