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Porsche closes out FIA WEC Prologue on top

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Porsche closed out the pre-season FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue test at Paul Ricard in France at the top of the timesheets.

After seeing Neel Jani set the pace in the Porsche 919 Hybrid on Friday evening, Brendon Hartley led the way on Saturday with a best lap of 1:37.445 in the afternoon session

Hartley’s lap was less than half-a-tenth quicker than Jani’s, giving him the fastest time of the entire two-day test at Paul Ricard.

Porsche drivers claimed the top three positions in the overall timesheets, with Romain Dumas following Hartley and Jani half a second behind.

Stephane Sarraizin finished as the best of the rest for Toyota, finishing eight-tenths of a second further back. Teammate Kamui Kobayashi followed in fifth place, although his Saturday running was cut short by an issue.

Benoit Treluyer finished as the quickest Audi driver in eighth place, 1.4 seconds down on Hartley at the top, with the German marque hitting trouble on both days with the R18 car.

In LMP2, Gustavo Menezes finished fastest for Signatech Alpine after lapping 0.002 seconds quicker than Jonny Kane of Strakka Racing on the second morning of testing.

The new Ford Chip Ganassi Racing led the way in GTE Pro on Saturday afternoon, but could not topple the AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado from P1 in class in the overall timesheets. The Italian team locked out the top three positions, with Olivier Pla finishing eight-tenths of a second behind in the leading Ford GT.

Paolo Ruberti’s time from the first morning of running at Paul Ricard was good enough for P1 in GTE Am, giving Larbre Competition a boost heading into the new season.

The opening round of the 2016 FIA WEC season takes place at Silverstone on April 17.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).