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.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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