As the first four hours of running for the 2019 FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue came to an end, Toyota Gazoo Racing picked up business from where it left off 37 days ago at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, locking out the top two spots on the timing screen. AF Corse came out on top of the GTE Pro battle, with the top four in class finishing within a second of each other.
As always, testing times should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is difficult to compare teams directly with lap times as it is unknown what they were running for at the time and how much fuel was on board. A more relative statistic to look at is the number of laps set, as this is an indication of mileage covered and reliability of the car.
Toyota completed 212 laps in comparison to the 137 laps set by competitors Rebellion Racing. They also held a 1.4s advantage over the Swiss team on the stopwatch. It seems that even with the 14kg ballast added to the Japanese car, the advantage it had last season has been carried forwards to this season. This isn’t too surprising considering that the regulations in LMP1 have not changed from last season.
It was a tough first morning for Team LNT who only managed to get one of their cars out on track. The #6 set 15 laps with a fastest time of 1:34.670, 4.6s off the Toyota pace. The sister car did not leave the garage at all as it was still being rebuilt after issues the team suffered yesterday. It is not yet known if the #5 will be seen on track today.
After starting slow out of the gates, Porsche GT Team stepped it up a notch, finishing third and fourth fastest in class behind the two AF Corses. The new 911 RSR made its WEC debut on track this morning, finishing competitively with its fastest laps in the 1m44s range. Ferrari dominated the show from early on, holding onto the top two spots on the timing screen.
The James Calado/Alessandro Pier Guidi Le Mans-winning car led the class with a 1:44.040, over half a second faster than the sister car.
The sole Pro Aston Martin sat slowest in the class with a 1:46.090, but set the highest number of laps with 95 laps under its belt. There was scarcely a moment in the four hour session that the green Aston Martin Racing car could not be seen on track, adding testament to their potential this season.
United Autosports climbed ahead of the Signatech Alpine in the closing moments of the session to take the fastest time in the LMP2 class. In the hands of Paul di Resta, a 1:33.344 was enough to put the American team three-tenths up on the reigning LMP2 champions. The entire LMP2 grid was covered by three seconds at the chequered flag.
However it was third-placed Team Racing Nederland that took the highest lap count, with 97 laps set by a combination of its four drivers: Frits Van Eerd, Giedo Van Der Garde, Nyck de Vries and Job van Uitert. From this morning, they are definitely showing to be a team to keep an eye on this season.
The top three in Am were locked out by Porsche-running teams, showing that the strengths Porsche had in the 911 RSR last year look to be continuing into this season. Class champions Team Project 1 locked out the top two places in class with their duo of cars, whilst #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing rounded off the top three.
The only two cars to not make it out on track in this morning’s session were the #5 Team LNT LMP1 and the #88 Dempsey-Proton Am.