WEC Prologue: Test ends with Porsche in front


Porsche ended the two-day FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue test on top, putting the German manufacturer in good stead for the first race of the season at Silverstone next month.

Brendon Hartley set the fastest lap on day two of the Paul Ricard sessions, posting a 1:37.445 to put the championship-defending Porsche 919 Hybrid at the head of the timesheets.

Hartley’s time six minutes into the afternoon session eclipsed Neel Jani’s benchmark from day one by 0.042s. Jani was driving the sister 919 Hybrid, which only ran on the Friday as scheduled.

Toyota ended the test second quickest of the three manufacturers after Stephane Sarrazin set a 1:38.273 time on the morning of day two. The TS050 Hybrid was noticeably rapid in the second sector which incorporates the long Mistral Straight, but slow average times in the twisty third sector appeared to pegged the car back.

Audi’s fastest lap came courtesy of Benoit Treluyer who recorded a 1:38.827 to put the #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro fourth in the order. The Neuberg-based team had a tough run at the Prologue, dropping considerable time to Porsche in the high-downforce opening and closing sectors.

Rebellion Racing won the preliminary battle of the LMP1 non-hybrids thanks to a 1:41.733 effort from Alexandre Imperatori in the #13 R-One AER in the final session.

LMP2 was led by the Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan after a quick lap from Nicolas Lapierre put the French outfit to the top of the class order.

Lapierre’s 1:46.974 in the morning session on day two was enough to edge out the Strakka Racing Gibson 015S Nissan that topped the opening day by 0.002s. G-Drive Racing (Oreca 05), Baxi DC Racing Alpine (Alpine A460) and RGR Sport by Morand (Ligier JS P2) completed the top five in LMP2, as the eight fastest cars all came within a second of the fastest lap.

GTE-Pro testng concluded with Ferrari 488s claiming the three quickest laps. The 1:57.808 marker set by AF Corse’s Gianmaria Bruni on the first day held out as the best effort, with Sam Bird coming 0.275s shy in the sister car on Saturday to edge ahead of team-mate Davide Rigon. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK did top the final session, but could not break the Ferrari stronghold at Paul Ricard.

The fastest lap from the very first session on Friday was enough to see Larbre Competition take the top spot in GTE-Am. Paolo Ruberti’s 1:58.268 would not be bested with the second-placed Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR finishing half a second behind.