Paul Ricard WEC test: Porsche on the pace right behind Audi
|By Gary Watkins||Friday, March 28th 2014, 12:40 GMT|
World Endurance Championship newcomer Porsche ended up only a tenth behind reigning champion Audi in the first session of the official series test at Paul Ricard on Friday.
Audi driver Marcel Fassler was fastest during the four-hour session in the R18 e-tron quattro he shares with Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer on a time of 1m42.788s.
That eclipsed Neel Jani's previous table-topping best in the #14 Porsche 919 Hybrid by just 0.124s.
The #20 Porsche, in which Mark Webber had headed the times early in the session, ended up third fastest on 1m43.260s.
Jani said: "We were just running normally, going through our programme, so we didn't go for it.
"We are still working on the mechanical and aero balance, finding out what makes the car work.
"Still, it's good that we were P1 for a long time; at the moment it doesn't look too bad for us."
The best of the new Toyota TS040 HYBRIDs, the #7 car shared by Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Stephane Sarrazin, ended up fourth fastest on a 1m43.910s.
Drawing conclusions from the test was difficult because the FIA and the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, which jointly write the regulations, have yet to reveal what fuel allocation per lap they are allowing the new LMP1 cars at Ricard.
Organisers are using the test as the final stage of analysis of the fuel figures in the new energy-based formula, prior to setting down the allocations for the first three rounds of the 2014 WEC up to and including the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The LMP2 class was headed by John Martin in the best of the Millennium/Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan 03s on a 1m49.284s, which was more than a second ahead of the similar AF Corse-run SMP Racing ORECA driven by Nicolas Minassian.
Richard Lietz was fastest GTE Pro in the solo factory Manthey Porsche 911 RSR and Paolo Ruberti quickest in GTE Am in the AF/8Star Ferrari 458 Italia.