Toyota Gazoo Racing

Lapierre quickest for Toyota on second day of WEC Prologue

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Nicolas Lapierre made the most of his first appearance in Toyota colors since 2014 by topping the timesheets on the second day of the FIA World Endurance Championship pre-season Prologue at Monza on Sunday.

Lapierre was confirmed as returning to Toyota’s line-up for 2017, two-and-a-half years after being dropped for a lack of performance, and will race in its third car this year.

The Frenchman turned in a fastest lap time of 1:30.547 on Sunday afternoon to finish as the fastest driver overall at the Prologue, edging out Toyota LMP1 teammate Anthony Davidson by 0.262 seconds in the final timesheets.

Toyota locked out the top four positions in the overall timings, with Porsche failing to beat the laps it set on Saturday night prior to the rain that scuppered much of the running.

TDS Racing led the way in LMP2 courtesy of Mathieu Vaxiviere, who narrowly beat Bruno Senna’s benchmark from Saturday by 0.016 seconds to finish fastest overall in the No. 28 ORECA-Gibson. Ho-Pin Tung ended third-fastest in class in the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry.

Michael Christensen’s fastest time for Porsche on Saturday went unbeaten in GTE Pro as the test came to a close, with teammate Kevin Estre lapping a tenth off in the No. 92 911 RSR. Harry Tincknell was the fastest non-Porsche driver, ending up fourth in class for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing as less than a second separated the top 10 in GTE Pro.

Miguel Molina took Spirit of Race to the helm of the timesheets in GTE Am, putting in a best time of 1:49.843 in the No. 54 Ferrari 488 GTE. While Saturday leader Ben Barker was able to improve on his previous best, he still fell 0.167 seconds short of P1 in the No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR.

The WEC paddock will next convene at Silverstone for the opening round of the season on April 16.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”