(Photo: © Marius Hecker - AdrenalMedia.com)

Toyota’s Nicolas Lapierre Fastest Overall in WEC Prologue

On Sunday, the annual Prologue for the FIA World Endurance Championship wrapped up at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy.  When the dust settled, it was Toyota GAZOO Racing’s Nicolas Lapierre that was fastest overall.  Lapierre turned in a lap at 90.547 seconds (143.114 mph) in the final session.

Saturday night was supposed to see an all-out night session.  However, rain began to fall just five minutes after the session began.  As a result, only 13 of the 27 cars on-site actually recorded official times.

Porsche LMP Team’s Neel Jani was fastest with a lap of 91.666 seconds (141.367 mph) on his second lap of the session.  That lap was a tenth and a half quicker than Earl Bamber in the No. 2 Porsche.

Mathias Beche was fastest in P2 with a lap of 101.467 seconds (127.712 mph), turned in after the rains started.  It was still the fifth fastest lap of the session and a full 13 seconds faster than Gustavo Menezes in the No. 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470-Gibson.  Kevin Estre was fastest in GTE-Pro with a lap of 118.247 seconds (109.589 mph), 2.6 seconds quicker than teammate Frédéric Makowiecki.  Gulf Racing UK’s No. 86 was the only GTE-Am car to venture onto the wet course in the session.  Ben Barker turned in a lap of 122.640 seconds (105.663 mph).

WEC Prologue Day No. 1 Night Session Results

On Saturday morning, the track was dry and the teams were raring for action.  Once again, the Porsches were quick.  Jani was again fastest with a lap of 92.020 seconds (140.823 mph).  This lap was just four-thousandths of a second quicker than teammate Brendon Hartley in the No. 2 Porsche.  Kazuki Nakajima in the No. 8 Toyota was nearly a half-second back in third, followed closely by Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 7.

P2 saw Matthieu Vaxivière quickest in the TDS Racing ORECA 07-Gibson with a lap of 96.078 seconds (134.875 mph), the fastest P2 lap of the entire test.  Vaxivière was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than G-Drive Racing’s Roman Rusinov in seconds.  Beche was third quickest, followed by Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Alex Brundle.  André Negrao in Signatech Alpine Matmut’s No. 35 was fifth quickest.

GTE-Pro was once again topped by Porsche GT Team’s No. 92.  Estre was fastest with a lap of 107.507 seconds (120.537 mph).  The lap was just eight-thousandths of a second faster than Makowiecki in the No. 91.  Harry Tincknell was just one-thousandth of a second slower than Makowiecki in the fastest of the Ford GT’s.  Stefan Mücke was fourth quickest, followed by Davide Rigon in the fastest Ferrari.

GTE-Am was led by Miguel Molina in the Spirit of Race No. 54 Ferarri 488 GTE.  Molina’s lap of 109.906 seconds (117.906 mph) was one-sixth of a second faster than Barker.  It was the only GTE-Am lap of the entire weekend run in under 110 seconds.  Aston Martin Racing’s Pedro Lamy was another two-tenths back in third.

WEC Prologue Day No. 2 Morning Session Results

The final session of the test brought out the fastest laps of the whole test.  As noted above, Lapierre in the No. 8 Toyota was fastest in the session and fastest overall for the test.  The lap was nearly a full faster than the No. 7 Toyota of Kobayashi.  Nick Tandy, driving the No. 1 Porsche, was another three-eights of a second back in third.  Timo Bernhard was fourth fastest.

In P2, Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung was fastest with a lap of 96.448 seconds (134.358 mph), a tenth of a second faster than Signatech Alpine Matmut’s Nelson Panciatici.  Manor’s Vitaly Petrov was third, followed by Menezes and Beche.

GTE-Pro saw the Ford GT’s finally usurp the new Porsche 911 RSR’s.  Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK’s Tincknell was fastest with a lap of 107.530 seconds (120.511 mph).  Tincknell’s lap was four-hundredths of a second faster than teammate Olivier Pla in the second Ford.  Three-tenths back was Makowiecki in third, followed by Estre and James Calado in the AF Corse No. 51 Ferrari.  Tincknell’s lap was the fastest lap of the weekend for the Ford GT, but Michael Christensen’s lap of 107.379 seconds (120.681 mph) from the morning session on Saturday was the fastest GTE-Pro lap of the weekend.

GTE-Am saw Keita Sawa turn in the fastest lap of the session with a time of 110.271 seconds (117.516 mph).  Sawa’s lap was two-tenths of a second faster than Spirit of Race’s Francesco Castellacci.  Barker was third quickest.

WEC Prologue Day No. 2 Afternoon Session Results

The ByKolles Racing Team, which skipped the first two sessions on Saturday, only managed six laps on track during the night session on Saturday with Oliver Webb at the wheel.  Afterwards, the team chose to withdraw from the rest of the session due to issues with rear-end updates designed around the NISMO engine from the stillborn Nissan P1 program that the team will race this season.  The team plans to test more in the next ten days prior to the WEC season opener at Silverstone.

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Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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