WEC – Molina-Rigon fastest in Friday’s free practice
The weekend of the Ferrari 488 GTEs competing at the Shanghai circuit in the third round of Season 8 of the FIA World Endurance Championship began well, with Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina taking first place in the LMGTE Pro class at the end of the second session of unofficial tests.
First session. The first free practice session, opening the competitive programme of the 4 hours of Shanghai, was held in very pleasant temperatures with sun and a light wind. On a dry but not yet rubberised track, the Ferrari crews started to fine-tune their set-ups and find the right level of grip on the Chinese asphalt. Unlike recent editions, the weather is forecast to be benign over the weekend, with no rain and temperatures of around 20 degrees.
In the LMGTE Pro class, the AF Corse no. 51 crewed by James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi was the only Ferrari on track. It set the session’s third-fastest time of 2:01.603 on lap six, with the British driver at the wheel. The pair drove a total of 34 laps. The second 488 GTE, the no. 71 crewed by Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina, didn’t appear due to a fuel tank problem, which was later solved. In the LMGTE Am class, the car of MR Racing with Kei Cozzolino, Olivier Beretta and Motoaki Ishikawa was the best of the Ferraris, finishing third in a time of 2:02.013. With 40kg of ballast due to previous results and leadership of the provisional class standings, the 488 GTE no. 83 of AF Corse, crewed by François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen, was eighth fastest, followed by its twin car, no. 54 with Giancarlo Fisichella, Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr. The car of Red River Sport covered 37 laps on its track debut, crewed by Bonamy Grimes, Johnny Mowlem and Charles Hollings.
Second session. In the second 90 minutes of the free practice session, held in the afternoon and in cooler temperatures than before, the two 488 GTEs in the LMGTE Pro class completed many laps. While encountering no problems in terms of reliability, they struggled to find the right grip with the tyres. Molina and Rigon nevertheless finished the session in first with a time of 2:00.036, while Pier Guidi and Calado came sixth in 2:02.567. In the LMGTE Am class, MR Racing’s entry was the fastest of the Maranello contingent with the fifth-best time of 2:02.542. Seventh place went to Grimes, Mowlem, and Hollings in the Ferrari of Red River Sport, an improvement on their first untimed outing. Behind them came the two 488 GTEs of AF Corse, the no. 83 driven by Perrodo, Collard, and Nielsen and the no. 54 of Fisichella, Castellacci, and Flohr.
Programme. The third and final free practice session starts on Saturday at 9:50 am local time, followed at 2 pm by the qualifying session to decide the starting grid for the 4 hours of Shanghai, which sets off on Sunday at 12 pm.