United Autosports tops first day in WEC Prologue

United Autosports tops first day in WEC Prologue

The United Autosports LMP2 team again topped the times with Filipe Albuquerque in the final session of the opening day of the World Endurance Championship prologue test at Spa.

Albuquerque improved on his morning best by just over one tenth with a 2m04.822s set aboard United’s Oreca-Gibson 07 in the second session of the two-day test ahead of this weekend’s series opener at the Belgian track.

Racing Team Nederland driver Job van Uitert ended up one thousandth of a second behind Albuquerque, while Robin Frijns took third as LMP2 machinery blocked out the top three positions on the timesheets.

The Alpine-Gibson A480 LMP1 car was quickest in the Hypercar class in fourth position, while the best of the new Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs took sixth overall.

Albuquerque knocked the WRT Oreca in which Frijns had posted a 2m05.043s off the top of times with 90 minutes of the session left on the clock.

Van Uitert subsequently pushed Frijns down to third with a 2m04.823s in the TDS Racing-run RTN entry.

Matthieu Vaxiviere was four tenths off the pace in the down-specced Alpine P1, which is carrying more than 100kg of ballast to help bring its pace into line with that of the new breed of Le Mans Hypercars.

He briefly topped the times with a 2m05.230s set 50 minutes into a session lasting nearly four and a half hours.

That put him a tenth clear of Loic Duval in fifth position in the TDS squad’s RealTeam Racing entry, which ended up on 2m05.378s.

The best of the Toyota LMHs was next best on a 2m05.413s from Kazuki Nakajima, an improvement of nearly one and a half seconds on the Japanese manufacturer’s fastest time on Monday morning.

The sister GR010 managed a single flying lap right at the end of the session in Mike Conway’s hands after failing to post a time in the morning.

He had just set 2m10.101s, which left him behind all the P2s, when the session was red-flagged with six minutes left on the clock.

Toyota’s best lap was just over five seconds slower than its LMP1 TS050 HYBRID managed in free practice for last August’s Spa WEC round.

That is the margin that the new technical rules for WEC’s top class are meant to have slowed the cars on a regular circuit for 2021.

Albuquerque’s fastest lap was only just over one second than the P2 best in free practice last year, despite a 60bhp power reduction for the secondary prototype class this season.

It has also been mandated that the P2 cars must run in the same low-downforce configuration in which they race at the Le Mans 24 Hours at all WEC races this year.

This has resulted in an increase in top speed for the P2 cars at Spa: the United Oreca’s best time through the speed trap on the Kemmel Straight was 301.0km/h, which compares with 297.7km/h best in free practice last year.

Porsche again led the way in GTE Pro with Kevin Estre in the #91 Manthey-run 911 RSR.

The Frenchman produced a 2m14.304s lap, slightly slower than his morning best.

Second place in the GTE Pro order was taken by Miguel Molina in the best of the AF Corse-run factory Ferrari 488 GTE Evos with a 2m14.633s.

Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado were only a tenth further back in the second cars from Porsche and Ferrari respectively.

The Chevrolet Corvette C8.R was just under eight tenths off the pace in Antonio Garcia’s hands.

Matteo Cairoli was quickest in GTE Am with a time that put him only behind Estre and Molina in the fastest of the Project 1 team’s Porsches.

The session started half an hour early in an attempt to make up the track time lost to three red-flag stoppages in the opening session in the morning.

More time was lost early in the extended session with another red flag following two accidents: Sean Gelael backed the Jota P2 Oreca into the barriers at the top of Eau Rouge and Anders Buchardt went off at the Bruxelles hairpin in Project 1’s second Porsche.

The final red flag that resulted in the session being curtailed early followed Charles Milesi stopping in the WRT Oreca at No-Name or Speaker’s Corner after Bruxelles.

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