In the lunchtime interval the clouds of the morning parted to be replaced by hazy sunshine. With perfect conditions, we expected there might be some quick times. Here are the notes from the final session of the 2017 Prologue.
Tandy in the #1 Porsche was first out of pit exit at the start of the session, but it was Lapierre in the #8 Toyota who set the fastest time of the weekend thus far with a lap of 1:30.547 on his first flying lap. At 14:11 Jarvis in the #38 Jackie Chan DC racing Oreca set the fastest LMP2 time of the prologue 1:37.379. This was followed at 14:13 by Makoweiecki on Porsche #1 with a lap of 1:48.311, the fastest thus far in the Prologue in GTE Pro. Five minutes later Jarvis improved the time of the #38 to 1:37.295. At 14:18, Pla in Ford GT #66 went fastest in GTE Pro with a 1:47.572.
At 14:22 we discovered that the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche was not expected to take part in the session (no reason offered). At 14:26 Petrov in the CEFC Manor #24 set a lap time of 1:36.590 putting it fastest in LMP2 this session.
At the 30 minute mark the hazy sunshine had turned into crisp spring blue sky and perfect conditions. The early pace of Lapierre (whose 33rd birthday is today BTW) kept the #8 Toyota at the top of the timing screen followed by the #1 Porsche and #7 Toyota. In LMP2 the time set by Petrov ensured the #24 CEFC Manor was quickest in class, followed by the #36 Signatech Alpine and and #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca. In GTE Pro the time set by Pla in the Ford GT #66 put it at the top of class, followed by the #91and #92 Porsches. In GTE Am, the #61 Clearwater racing Ferrari was quickest, ahead of the #86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche and #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari.
At 14:48 Panciatici put in a lap of 1:36.559 in the #35 Signatech Alpine, promoting it to fastest in class. At that point, all cars we had expected to see had set times.
The second half hour of the session saw no change at the top of LMP1, GTE Pro or GTE Am, but Panciatici's lap propelled the #35 Signatech Alpine to the top of LMP2, demoting the #24 CEFC Manor and #36 Signatech Alpine to second and third.
At 15:24 we saw the G-Drive #26 going slowly on the approach to Parabolica (bringing out a local yellow flag), then it stopped completely. Rusinov managed to get it moving again after a minute or two and very slowly made his way back to the pit lane and was promptly pushed back into the pit garage.
Just as the 90 minute mark was passed, Tincknell took the #67 Ford GT up to the top of GTE Pro table with a time of 1:47.530, putting it ahead of the #66 Ford GT, the #91 Porsche and #92 Porsche. In LMP1, LMP2 and GTE Am the positions had not changed since the previous half hour point.
At 15:47 there was an improvement from Jarvis in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 with a time of 1:36.448 promoting it to quickest in session in LMP2. With one hour left in the session, the positions on the timing screens had begun to crystallise and the only change in the previous half hour was the aforementioned promotion of the #38, pushing the #35 Signatech Alpine and #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing, to second and third quickest. One thing that had changed over the last hour was the weather. The sunshine slowly went hazy then overcast, followed by a rain warning on the timing screens 'possible shower the next few minutes' followed by 'light rain' and 'WET TRACK' at 16:12. The G-Drive #26 re-emerged from its box and was back on circuit again... just in time for the shower.
Things had seemed to be relatively quiet, right up until 16:20 when Rao in the #36 put the car over the gravel and into the tyres at the outside of the first part of Lesmo (T6) which brought out the red flag. Presumably he had been caught out by the shower which turned out to be a smidgen heavier than the promised 'light rain'.
The #36 was stretchered-off and the tyres put back in order and the session restarted at 16:35 but with a wet track there was no queue at pit exit and the track remained quiet for a few minutes until 16:42 when first Kobayashi and then Nakajima took the two Toyotas (#7 and #8) tentatively back on track, but with no hope of improvement in lap times in the final 15 minutes in the wet.
The final order for the session overall was #8 #7 #1 #2, the #7 Toyota having demoted the #1 Porsche just before the shower and red flag. In LMP2 the top three times were unchanged in the final hour and the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca was quickest from the #35 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 second fastest and the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca third. In GTE Pro it was the Ford GT #67 that set the fastest time from the second Ford GT #66 and the #91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR. In GTE Am the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE set the quickest time with #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE second and #86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche 911 RSR (991) third.
You can find complete timing and classification HERE