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.

Kyle Busch happy with first stint: ‘Put me in the car, there’s excitement!’

AP Photo/Terry Renna
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Rolex 24 at Daytona debut of the “KB Show” was cut short by a strategy maneuver but still delivered drama and a positive result.

Kyle Busch got the No. 14 RCF GT3 Lexus back on the lead lap and back in contention for a GTD victory at Daytona International Speedway.

“It was good,” Kyle Busch said with a broad smile after a 42-minute stint. “Just, uh, shit, put me in the car, and there’s excitement around! Drove all my way back to the lead lap and everything.

“Overall, we’ve had a good experience and hell I only got one stint in, so I’m ready for more. Sign me up, coach!”

The two-time Cup champion was expected to drive for at least 90 minutes, but the first full-course caution of the race (with 19 hours and 16 minutes remaining) caused AIM Vasser Sullivan to change up its drive plan. Busch was called to the pits in favor of Parker Chase.

“With all the strategy and the way the wave-bys work here, it’s quite different than what we’re accustomed to (in NASCAR),” said Busch, who likely will drive longer now later in the race. “That wasn’t bad. To get ourselves back on the lead lap and back to a position where we can start scrapping again hopefully is what we needed.

“So I got one stint in, but I’m trying to save myself and (teammate) Jack (Hawksworth) for a little later.”

Busch climbed into the car shortly after 6 p.m. as the last of the No. 14’s four drivers. He complained a few times on his radio about traffic, which he said was his biggest challenge.

“There were a couple of instances we ran down a smaller car, and (it was) just mirror driving in front of us,” he said. “That was pretty bad. We lost probably 2 seconds on that. Overall, I guess that’s road racing.

The yellow flag was exactly what Busch’s team needed after being forced to start from the rear of the field when it missed qualifying because of an engine change. Hawksworth, who started the race, said the car was “quick in the wrong places and slow in the right places” after struggling with handling and speed in the first stint.

“I don’t feel we’re out of it,” Hawksworth said. “It’s a very long race. Still early days. We need to work on having speed for the end of the race. The position right now doesn’t really make any difference. We’ll need to find some performance at the end of the race to fight for the win.”