Porsche ended the opening day of The Prologue on top, with its new 919 Hybrids leading the way in two of the three FIA WEC test sessions at Paul Ricard.
Brendon Hartley was quickest of the day, with the 24-year-old Kiwi reeling off a best time of 1:41.289 in Friday evening’s two-hour session. It was nearly a half-second quicker than co-driver Timo Bernhard, who took the same car to the top of the time sheets the afternoon session.
The German manufacturer, making its return to top-level prototype competition, showed the upper hand, with quickest non-Porsche, the No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer, being nearly eight-tenths slower.
Porsche’s No. 14 entry, driven by Neel Jani, ended the night session second quickest, ahead of the No. 7 Toyota in third with a 1:42.841 lap time. The No. 8 Toyota and No. 1 Audi completed the top five overall and in LMP1-H on Friday night.
Rebellion Racing’s two 2013-spec Lola B12/60 Toyotas, which has yet to be given technical specifications for next month’s season-opener at Silverstone, did not turn laps in the day’s third session.
LMP2 saw the No. 23 Millennium Racing Oreca 03 Nissan of Shinji Nakano lead the way again with a 1:49.246 lap time. The Japanese driver cleared the pair of Russian-backed SMP Racing Oreca-Nissans by more than six-tenths.
Nakano’s 1:48.970 lap time from Friday afternoon’s session, however, stood as the quickest of the day in class.
In GTE-Pro, the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon and new signing James Calado led the way in the night with a 1:58.986 lap time, but it was the No. 92 Porche Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Fred Makowiecki that ended up quickest of the day in class.
A 1:58.507 lap by 8Star Motorsports’ Paolo Ruberti set in the afternoon was quickest in GTE-Am, but like a handful of other teams, the U.S.-entered squad elected not to participate in the day’s third session.
Ruberti’s former team, Proton Competition, instead topped the time charts in the night, thanks to a 1:58.662 lap time by Porsche Junior Klaus Bachler, who is making his FIA WEC debut.
Two additional test sessions are on tap for Saturday, the second and final day of official on-track activity.