Friday 6 April 2018

FIA WEC: 14 Hours into the Prologue, Rebellion taking command behind Toyota

We're nearly halfway the 2018 FIA WEC Prologue and running into the night as we speak. Of the 35 cars entered for the test only thirteen are running through the dark; five LMP1s, no LMP2s, and four each in GTE Pro and Am. 

The #8 Toyota TS050 – Hybrid still tops the timing sheets with its fastest lap set much earlier in the day and has now been garaged until Saturday with just the #7 still running. The #8 is going round in Le Mans spec (high downforce aero), explaining the gap of almost 2 seconds between both Toyota's.  The #8 Toyota who is running in the night session has done the most laps of the whole field so far with a total of 385.

Behind the two sole Hybrid entries, the privateer LMP1's are really close at the moment.  With the temperatures dropping, the laptimes are also going down as the night session evolves. Early in the evening, the Nissan powered ByKolles went third fastest. The #4 has had a solid run all day so far, putting in consistent laptimes and building up its pace during the day.  At this moment, 14 hours into the 30 hour test, it's Andre Lotterer who is fastest in the Rebellion/TVR R13, setting fastest lap after fastest lap.  He's now down to a 1.37.044, coming closer to the 2 second gap with the Toyota's. 

Behind Lotterer sits the ByKolles, who is now being chased by all three BR1's which are within a margin of just 0,136 seconds between them. Mikhail Aleshin is leading the pack at this moment in the #11 with Stephane Sarrazin in the #17 right on his tail.  The #10 Dragonspeed BR1 is fifth fastest.  The #5 Ginetta did come out early in the night session right before sunset, but Charlie Robertson had to pit back early when his rear bodywork came loose. 

Oreca 07 chassis still lock out the top of the LMP2 tables with Dragonspeed holding a half second gap over the TDS Racing car. Third is the Alpine badged Oreca of Signatech Alpine Matmut with Racing Team Nederland leap-frogging the two Jackie Chan DC Racing cars to put their Dallara into fourth spot while still running an evaluation program on both Michelin and Dunlop tyres this weekend. None of the LMP2 positions will change overnight as there are no cars running the overnight session. 

Moving on to the GTE Pro class, the two factory Porsche 911 RSRs hold the top two spots with the #91 car having a quarter second gap of its sister #92. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK hold third (#67) and fourth (#66) spots with fifth going to the first of the AF Corse Ferraris, the #51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado. The #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage AMR has moved up to sixth place with the #71 Ferrari in seventh. The BMW's have dropped down to 8th and 10th position.  The #82 BMW has been very active all day, and drove up to 326 laps so far. 

The #77 Dempsey – Proton Racing 911 leads the GTE Am pack by the smallest of margins (0.070s) over the Team Project 1 RSR, both of which are lapping quicker then the Pro #82 BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE. The Porsche top three is rounded out by the Gulf Racing car of Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker and Alexander Davison. Snapping at the Porsche’s heels are the two older model Aston Martin Vantages of Aston Martin Racing and TF Sport – both of which have stopped for the night. The class is rounded out by the three Ferrari 488s of MR Racing, Spirit of Race and Clearwater Racing, all of which are run by AF Corse. 

Kristof Vermeulen
Part of this report has been published at earlier tonight