Improved track and ambient conditions ensured the lap times tumbled in the second Free Practice at Nürburgring this afternoon.
Sunshine welcomed the 31 entries for the second of three practice sessions on the challenging track set deep in the Eifel mountains.
Audi once again led the way by claiming the top position from Porsche by just 0.059s. Benoit Treluyer set a 1m37.862 in the final minutes of the session to execute a perfect recovery from a difficult start when the Frenchman stopped at turn one after running wide in to the gravel.
The No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid was just shaded by the Audi R18 etron quattro, after claiming a best time of 1m37.921s. Set by Mark Webber, who won his first Grand Prix here in 2009, the time initially looked to be the perfect reply to Audi’s first session performance. That was, until Treluyer’s superb late effort. The closeness of the two LMP1 rivals in FP2 indicates another further titanic battle between the German manufacturers will rage on Sunday afternoon.
The second of the Porsche 919’s was just 0.011s behind its sister car, with Neel Jani setting the time earlier in the session. The Swiss, who shares the No.18 car with Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas set a succession of rapid laps in the aero revised Porsche 919 Hybrid.
The No.8 Audi R18 etron quattro driven by Loic Duval, Oliver Jarvis and Lucas Di Grassi claimed fourth fastest in the 90-minute session. However, it ended badly when Di Grassi was involved in an incident at the final corner and damaged the rear of the Audi.
The two Toyota TS 040 HYBRID LMP1 cars mirrored their first session positions of fifth and sixth. The 2014 champions will be racing to a home crowd as well this weekend as the Toyota Racing operation is based close by in Cologne.
The No.12 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER cars led the privateer LMP1 field, but were split for a time by the ByKolles CLM P1/01. However, the No.13 Rebellion eventually displaced the Austrian entered LMP1 late in the session, when Alexander Imperatori usurped it.
G-Drive Racing again claimed a 1-2 in the LMP2 class, but this time the No.26 Ligier-Nissan turned the tables on the No.28 car which had led the class in FP1 earlier in the day.
Sam Bird, who shares the car with Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal, continued to showcase his considerable talent by setting a succession of fast laps, peaking with a 1m46.299 to head the class by a huge 1.6s.
Third in LMP2 and continuing its good start to a renewed WEC LMP2 campaign in the hands of Strakka Racing was the Gibson 015S. Jonny Kane set the lap, a 1m47.978s.
Aston Martin led the LMGTE Pro class with the No.99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 peaking on a 1m54.869, set by Richie Stanaway. The Spa winners led the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia which had set the FP1 benchmark earlier today.
A slender 0.6s covered the first four cars in class, with the No.97 and No.95 Aston Martins third and fourth respectively.
In LMGTE Am the Le Mans winning SMP Racing Ferrari squad topped the timing screens with Victor Shaytar claiming a best lap of 1m56.238s. This was 0.5s faster than the No.98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda, with the experienced Lamy setting its best time.
The third and final Free Practice session takes place on Saturday morning at 09.30.