Austin WEC: Duval ensures practice clean sweep for #8 Audi

Audi’s Loic Duval again set the pace in the final practice session before this evening’s qualifying for the 6 Hours of COTA in Austin.

Austin WEC: Duval ensures practice clean sweep for #8 Audi
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb
#6 Toyota Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi
#6 Toyota Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi
#5 Toyota Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK Ford GT: Marino Franchitti, Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, #7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18: Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer
#44 Manor Oreca 05 - Nissan: Matthew Rao, Richard Bradley, Roberto Merhi
#95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim
#88 Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR: Khaled Al Qubaisi, David Heinemeier Hansson, Kevin Estre

The #8 Audi has swept every single practice session of the weekend, this time outpacing the #1 Porsche of Brendon Hartley by a third of a second.

The one-hour morning session got underway in dry, sunny conditions with the temperature climbing to over 28C already.

Duval set 1m46.671s on his first flying lap in the #8 R18, then set a stunning 1m45.719s a few laps later. Marcel Fassler followed a similar course in the #7 car, setting 1m47.392s initially, then improving to 1m46.292s.

Romain Dumas jumped up to P2 in the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid with a 1m46.080s, before being deposed by Hartley in #1 on 1m46.051s.

The #7 Audi remained in fourth, over half a second off the pace of its sister machine. Benoit Treluyer suffered a collision in that car with the #50 Larbre Corvette midway through the session, during which the Larbre car – with late replacement Lars Viljoen at the wheel – spun.

Toyota was fifth and sixth again, with the #5 ahead of the #6, 1.1s and 1.6s off the pace respectively.

In the non-hybrid LMP1 class, Rebellion retook the number one spot ahead of ByKolles.

Manor sets LMP2 tempo

Roberto Merhi set the LMP2 pace in the #44 Manor Oreca at 1m55.874s, initially chased by Alex Brundle in the #26 G-Drive Oreca and the points-leading #36 Signatech. Then the Mexico-winning RGR Sport by Morand Ligier jumped up to second, although Felipe Albuquerque suffered a fright when he whacked a kerb in the Esses.

Marco Sorensen topped GTE Pro in #95 Aston, ahead of the #97 sister car of Darren Turner and the returning Fernando Rees (as Richie Stanaway is on Australian Supercars duty). Ferrari and Ford were next up.

The #88 Abu-Dhabi Proton Porsche was fastest in GTE Am, which has Kevin Estre in for the absent Pat Long this weekend.

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