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.

Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

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Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500