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Albuquerque Tops Monday Testing as LMP2s Set Pace

United Autosports tops first day of testing with Hypercar 0.4 seconds off the pace…

Photo: MPS Agency

Filipe Albuquerque set the fastest lap on the first day of FIA World Endurance Championship pre-season testing at Spa as the LMP2 front-runners led the Hypercar machinery from Toyota Gazoo Racing and Alpine Endurance Team.

Albuquerque, who led the way during the first session on Monday morning, also paced the longer afternoon session aboard the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson.

The Portuguese driver posted a time of 2:04.882 which ended up beating Job van Uitert in the second-placed Racing Team Nederland Oreca by just 0.001 seconds.

Robin Frijns placed third for Team WRT on a 2:05.043, while the fastest Hypercar competitor came through in fourth overall and 0.408 seconds off the outright mark.

Alpine A480 Gibson driver Matthieu Vaxiviere turned in a time of 2:05.230 to lead the WEC’s new category after one day of official testing.

This compared with the 2:05.413 set by Kazuki Nakajima in the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, which finished seventh overall behind the Realteam Racing LMP2 Oreca

The slower Hypercar times came despite the LMP2 field running with reduced power and more weight compared to last year.

Toyota’s No. 7 LMH car didn’t turn a flying lap during the morning and only appeared for the final minutes of the afternoon session.

Mike Conway completed six laps in the No. 7, with the Englishman’s best effort being a 2:10.101. Neither Kamui Kobayashi nor Jose Maria Lopez turned laps.

Toyota has cited electrical and hydraulic issues as the reason for its 2019-20 championship-winning entry losing several hours of potential track time.

In GTE-Pro, Kevin Estre once again set the pace in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 that the Frenchman is sharing with Neel Jani.

Despite topping the class leaderboard, Estre’s 2:14.304 effort fell short of his own personal best of 2:14.198 from the morning.

AF Corse Ferrari driver Miguel Molina lapped second-quickest in the afternoon with a time of 2:14.633, while Gianmaria Bruni was third in the No. 91 Porsche.

Matteo Cairoli set the GTE-Am pace for Team Project 1, with the Italian’s 2:14.740 marker beating all GTE competitors except Estre and Molina.

The second Prologue session got off to a slow start after an early red flag period within 15 minutes, after Sean Gelael crashed the No. 28 JOTA Oreca LMP2 at Raidillon.

At around the same time, Anders Buchardt went off at Les Combes in the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche, leading to that car being absent from the remainder of the session.

A red flag brought the session to a premature halt nine minutes earlier than planned after the Team WRT Oreca stopped on-track.

Neither of the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTEs emerged during the afternoon following their heavy crashes at Raidillon earlier in the day. 

RESULTS: Prologue Session 2

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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