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FIA WEC: Paul Ricard Prologue, Day Two Preview

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All of the below is heavily caveated with ‘Its Only Testing’, but from the running on Day One of the WEC Prologue at Paul Ricard, there are a number of threads that could just prove useful to consider

If Porsche were serious about ‘The Return’ last year, they are VERY serious this year. Their testing mileage is understood to be very high with multiple crews getting the opportunity to run thousand upon thousand of kilometres at various locations. Yesterday in both pace and circulation they exceeded their competitors, but are the sandbags out elsewhere, and ominously have Porsche shown everything they have ?

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It should be noted also that initial impressions are not that Porsche went for one lap wonders, it has been multiple cars and drivers setting quite impressive times with no time given to allow the track to ‘rubber-in’. The circuit has been in use prior to today, but got a good wash-down on Wednesday.

If there were a strategy card already being played it is Porsche showing Toyota that they have done their homework, have the power unit to run in the top Hybrid-category and on mileage done have the reliability to go some distance. Audi, as we’ve come to expect of the experienced winning master, are keeping calm and cool.

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Professing that they ‘Welcome Challenges’ has the implied threat that ‘we are working hard’ to re-level the playing field of 2014. Audi has confidence borne out of its years, they know how to win and will not be drawn into wrangles and pointless fights, they are running the programme, collecting and analysing their data. The Audi lap count is notably down on their competitors, but Dr. Ullrich knows precisely what he is doing.

Toyota appear to be confident in their pace, focusing more on their endurance and reliability than an outright lap, though that may come today. They appear to have banked the experiences of last year and appear stronger from the lessons learnt and poor luck served up at Le Mans.

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LMP2 is its usual competitive self with most teams holding their cards close to their chests, although that behaviour is somewhat required as cost-caps, regulatory restriction and the life of parts demand limited running. There can be little doubt the beautiful looking KCMG Oreca 05 with a crack team of drivers sets the benchmark for the others, but will it suffer with new car niggles ?

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The GTs are running very much in team format as ‘Noah’ would have it two-by-two, Porsche taking the fight to the Ferraris of AF Corse. A special mention indeed for AF Corse who for an Italian team never cease to impress with metronomic consistency, each car separated by 2-thousandths of a second!

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Tomorrow, now today, quite appropriately as Gone with the Wind would have it, Is Another Day!

Nick Holland