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Lapierre Puts Toyota Top To Conclude Monza Prologue

Rao brings out the red flag after an off

Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre ended the 2017 Monza Prologue on a high note, setting an impressive 1:30.547 early in the final session at Monza. His lap in the #8 Toyota TS050 turned out to be the quickest time of the meeting.

Second quickest in the session was the #7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, who set a 1:31.477 in the final hour to put the car just nine tenths off the sister TS050. Third and fourth were therefore taken by the two Porsche 919s, the #1 leading the #2, 1.2 and 1.5 seconds back respectively.

The four factory LMP1 cars all completed a lot of laps in the three hours of track time, the #1 919 in particular managing 86 tours of the circuit. At Toyota the #7 completed 72 laps, the most of the two TS050s.

It was a mostly clean three-hours of running for the WEC field aside from the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca, driven by Romain Rusinov, stopping on track and Matt Rao having an off with 40 minutes remaining at the first Lesmo, hitting the barriers head-on in the #36 Alpine. Rao has since been confirmed as ok after being checked by the medical team on site.

The #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca led the way in LMP2, turning 63 laps and finishing the day with a 1:36.448 its best time while Ho-Pin Tung was in the JOTA-Sport run machine. It was just over a tenth faster than the #35 Signatech Alpine which finished up second and the #24 Manor 07 Gibson that ended up third, a few thousands further back.

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The aforementioned #36 Alpine ended up fourth with a 1:38.842, ahead of the best of the Vailliante Rebellion Orecas that rounded out the top five.

GTE Pro saw Ford take the reins at the top of the timing screens with its #67 leading the #66, both GTs setting 1:47.5s. The best of the bunch was a 1:45.530 by Harry Tincknell. It was however, still two tenths off the best time over the two days set in GTE Pro by Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche.

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Best of the rest was #91 Porsche 911 RSR which managed a 1:47.908 courtesy of Frédéric Makowiecki, concluding a successful outing at Monza for the brand’s new GTE challengers, that once again both clocked over 50 laps each in the final session.

AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing continued to lap slowest of the four GTE manufacturers, though in this case, the faster of the AF Ferrari 488s was just two tenths off the slowest of the two Porsches.

Meanwhile, in Am Clearwater Racing topped the sheets, Kieta Sawa’s 1:50.271 leading the pack – and a Ferrari 1-2 after Spirit of Race slotted in second, with a lap just two tenths off. Gulf Racing’s Porsche finished up third with a 1:50.545, capping off a positive first weekend on Dunlop rubber for the British-based team, which saw it top the times in multiple sessions across the two days.

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Aside from the ByKolles CLM which officially withdrew from the Prologue early this morning, the only other car which failed to leave its garage in the afternoon was the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche.

Next up for the FIA WEC runners is a trip to Silverstone for the first round of the 2017 season on the Easter weekend as part of the traditional WEC-ELMS double-header.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON TIMES >>