By Johan Laubscher
Paul Ricard in France is playing host to the annual 'Prologue' two-day test for the FIA World Endurance Championship. The long winter break has come to an end with all of the teams taking part in the official test days ahead of the season opener at Silverstone in April.
The front end of the field includes two cars each from the LMP1-H factory teams: Audi, Porsche and Toyota (Nissan not present).
Audi Sport Team Joest arrived with two new 2015 Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars wearing the #7 and #8, the first time that an Audi is not wearing the #1 since 2010. The #7 Audi is driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Treluyer. Audi #8 has the trio of Oliver Jarvis, Loïc Duval and Lucas di Grassi behind the wheel.
At 09:00 local time the FIA WEC field headed out on track. Both Porsche and Toyota dropped below the 1:40.000 barrier during the morning. The #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid was fastest with a 1:39.292, ahead of the #1 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid. The #17 Porsche was third fastest, followed by the two Audis, #7 ahead of #8, and the #2 Toyota rounding out the top six.
Porsche went on to improve on the fastest time when the #18 Porsche set a 1:37.965 in the afternoon, along with the #17 Porsche setting the second fastest time for a Porsche 1-2. Audi Sport Team Joest’s cars placed third and fourth (#7 and #8), followed by the two Toyotas (#1 and #2).
The night session again saw Porsche running at the front with a 1-2, the #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid topping the times with an even faster 1:37.220. The general order was the same as during the afternoon, the two Audis finished third and fourth, this time #8 ahead of #7, and the Toyotas in fifth and sixth (#1 and #2).
Day two of testing will take place tomorrow. Another two sessions will be held, a four-hour morning session and a three-hour afternoon session.
Photo credit: Audi Communications - Motorsport