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Toyota tops first pre-season WEC test, privateers close in late on

#8 Toyota Prologue 2019

Toyota ended the opening day of the World Endurance Championship's pre-season test at Barcelona fastest, but with a reduced advantage over the quickest of the LMP1 privateers.

Kazuki Nakajima set the fastest time at the wheel of the #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID during an evening session that was delayed by an hour due to a red flag and then extended by 30 minutes.

Before that interruption, which was caused by problems with the kerbs at Turn 5, Jose Maria Lopez had been quickest in the #7 Toyota that had topped the first session with a 1m31.229s lap.

That was surpassed by Toyota newcomer Brendon Hartley after the red flag. Hartley posted a best lap time of 1m30.669s in the #8 car before Nakajima improved to a 1m30.114s in the penultimate hour, marginally slower than the best time set by Lopez earlier in the day.

Kobayashi ended up with the quickest time in the #7 car, just 0.066s slower than Nakajima.

The lead Rebellion ended up within a second of the pace of Toyota, whose advantage over the best non-hybrid car was reduced to 0.959s, down from 1.6s earlier in the day.

#7 Toyota Prologue 2019

Norman Nato was Rebellion's fastest driver in the #1 R-13 with a 1m31.073s tour, a little over three tenths up on Gustavo Menezes in the sister #3 entry.

Ginetta had briefly moved ahead of Rebellion into third but Mathias Beche's time of 1m31.043s was disallowed because it was set while yellow flags were out.

That meant the best of the Team LNT-run G60-LT-P1s, the #5 car, was 1.714s off the pace in fifth thanks to Mathias Beche's effort, 0.003s ahead of the sister car that had its best lap set by Mike Simpson.

Both Ginettas completed a combined total of 84 laps, making up for their earlier lack of mileage.

United Autosports maintained its advantage in LMP2, with ex-Formula 1 racer Paul di Resta again setting the #22 Oreca's best time of 1m33.110s - two tenths faster than he managed in the morning.

Toyota reserve driver Thomas Laurent was second-fastest in the #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca, some three tenths behind, ahead of the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Gabriel Aubry.

Ferrari topped the GTE Pro times thanks to Miguel Molina's effort of 1m43.814s in the #71 488 GTE which placed it ahead of the two all-new Porsche 911 RSR-19s.

Michael Christensen set Porsche's best time of 1m43.903s, 0.089s slower than the Ferrari.

Aston Martin's sole GTE Pro car, which is being shared by all four of its drivers, was fifth and slowest in class, behind the top four GTE Am runners.

Project 1 again headed the times in that class with its two previous-generation Porsches split by 0.032s and the #54 AF Corse Ferrari the team's closest challenger in third.

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