Last weekend saw the entrants to the 2014 World Endurance Championship gather for the first time for an official test in France.
The sessions at Paul Ricard were dominated by the appearance of Audi, Porsche and Toyota’s contenders.
Porsche completed a clean sweep of prototype and GT classes as their new 919 and the 911 RSR, both motored clear of the competition.
Entering the top tier of the championship for the first time, Porsche ended the two-day test on top of the time sheets as Brendan Hartley posted a time of 1m41.289s in the new 919.
Predictably the timing was dominated by the three hybrid P1 cars with Audi’s new R18 second, 0.8 of a second behind and the #7 Toyota TS040 placing fourth behind the second Porsche.
Hartley’s time was set during a night session on the Friday, while Audi topped the scoring on both of Saturday’s running as all three teams concentrated on their own testing schedules.
The trio spent time evaluating packages for both Le Mans and the shorter races, meaning few conclusions could be drawn from the two days testing.
Behind the manufacturers Rebellion was forced to field its pair 2013 Lola-Toyota’s, after their new Oreca built R1 chassis’ were not ready in time to make the test.
The cars, repainted in traditional Rebellion colours of red, white and gold after their Lotus sponsorship elapsed finished the two days well off the pace of the leading cars but clear of the LMP2 field.
That battle was topped by Shinji Nakano in Millenium/Delta’s Oreca 03 Nissan who posted a time of 1m 49.970, to beat Oak racing’s Olivier Pla by just a tenth of a second.
Strakka, who had recently tested their new Dome s103 for the first time, were forced to withdraw from the test at the last minute after developing a fault.
In the GTE field current Le Mans champions Porsche team Manthey could only field a single 911 RSR, but still managed to steer clear of the competition while the AF Corse 8-Star Ferrari 459 topped the GTE Am field.
The cars now head away for their final tweaks before they are shipped to the UK where the championship begins at Silverstone on April 20th.
Keep your eyes on carwitter for our WEC preview coming next week.