Toyota Gazoo Racing

Toyota tops opening day of WEC Prologue at Monza

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Toyota made an impressive start to the FIA World Endurance Championship’s pre-season ‘Prologue’ test at Monza in Italy by edging out Porsche at the top of the timesheets.

Toyota unveiled its updated TS050 Hybrid LMP1 car on Friday, with its No. 7 and No. 8 entries getting their first public runs at Monza today.

Mike Conway turned in a fastest lap of 1:31.332 to finish the day at the top of the standings, ending up three-tenths of a second clear of Porsche’s Neel Jani in the 919 Hybrid.

Defending WEC champion Jani squeezed his fast lap in just before heavy rain began to fall at the start of the night-time session, which prompted half the grid to remain in their garages instead of braving the wet conditions.

2015 Le Mans winner Earl Bamber slotted into third in the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, two-tenths off Jani’s time, with Kazuki Nakajima following in P4 for Toyota.

ByKolles managed to get out in the night-time session after its parts were delivered late, completing six laps in total after a frustrating day.

Rebellion made a good start to life in LMP2 by storming to a one-two finish on Saturday, led by Bruno Senna in the No. 31 ORECA-Gibson. Mathias Beche finished six-tenths of a second behind in the sister No. 13 entry, with G-Drive’s No. 26 entry completing the top three courtesy of Roman Rusinov.

After failing to top LMP1, Porsche was able to do so in GTE Pro as the mid-engined 911 RSR enjoyed its first public running in Europe. Michael Christensen set the pace in the No. 92 car, finishing 0.160 seconds clear of Andy Priaulx for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

While MST has been deliberately absent of April Fool’s coverage today, it is worth sharing this fun prank that Ford and Ferrari played on its GT drivers, swapping their cars around (a novel approach to Balance of Performance, we must say…).

In the five-car GTE Am category, British racer Ben Barker topped the timesheets for Gulf Racing in the No. 86 Porsche 911 RSR, finishing 0.145 seconds clear of Matteo Cairoli in the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche.

The WEC Prologue continues on Sunday at Monza with a further six hours of running.

Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
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Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

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