Prologue Session 1: Toyota 1-2 as new WEC era begins
Photo: WEC

Prologue Session 1: Toyota 1-2 as new WEC era begins

An exciting new era of the FIA World Endurance Championship burst into life as the 2023 season got underway with the first session of the Prologue test began at Sebring this morning.

All 37 entries were on track as new manufacturers, teams and drivers started to familiarise themselves with the legendary Sebring International Raceway. 

Setting the fastest time of the three hour session was the No.7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry driven by Jose-Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. 

The Argentinian stopped the clocks with a best of 1m48.208s to lap just a fraction faster than the sister Toyota GR010-Hybrid Hypercar. 

Ryo Hirakawa claimed a best lap of 1m48.293s in the No.8 machine that he will share in his second WEC season with experienced team-mates Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi. 

Third in Hypercar was the No.2 Cadillac Racing entry which will be campaigned by Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Richard Westbrook. It was Westbrook who claimed the time in the all-new Cadillac V-Series R Hypercar. 

Porsche Penske Motorsport placed fourth with the new Porsche 963 Hypercar as Frederic Makowiecki stopped the clocks on a 1m49.610s best. 

Ferrari AF Corse made their public debut with their pair of the striking Ferrari 499P Hypercars and began their preparations for next Friday’s season-opener. Alessandro Pier Guidi set the fifth fastest time of the session on a 1m49.724s lap for the Prancing Horse. 

Also in action were the pair of Peugeot 9X8 Hypercars, the popular Glickenhaus 007 and a new entry from the Floyd Vanwall Racing Team. 

In LMP2 United Autosports topped the times as Phil Hanson lapped in a best of 1m51.722s for the Anglo/US operation. 

Robert Kubica marked his return to the WRT team with second best time, just 0.030s of Hanson’s best. 

Third in LMP2 were defending champions Hertz Team JOTA. Yifei Ye set a 1m52.188s best in the gold liveried Oreca-Gibson. 

The LMGTE Am class witnessed the Iron Dames come out on top as Michelle Gatting’s 1m59.913 was one of only three times to go below the two-minute barrier. 

The Iron Dames crew of Gatting, Sarah Bovy and Rahel Frey have swapped from Ferrari to Porsche for 2023. 

Alessio Picariello in the Iron Lynx Porsche 911 RSR made it a 1-2 for the Italian operation with a late time of 1m59.935s. That time was just 0.002s faster than the fastest Ferrari, the No.54 AF Corse entry, which saw Davide Rigon return to WEC with a third best time. 

The second session of the Prologue is scheduled to get underway at 13h30 local time.