Day one of the Prologue consisted of three track sessions: two three hour sessions in the morning and afternoon with a third two hour session running into the darkness. Monza hosts the FIA WEC Prologue for the first time and despite the unknown, the cars were quickly up to speed. There were only three Full Course Yellows, the first of which was a systems check at the beginning of the morning session. The other two Full Course Yellows came during the afternoon session when the #24 CEFC Manor went off at Variante Tribune. The car was unable to extract itself from the gravel. The marshals managed to recover the car on to the track but it was reported that the #24 was losing fluid around the circuit. The fastest LM GTE Pro #92 Porsche brought out the final FCY of the day spinning on the entrance to Variante Ascari and getting stuck in the gravel towards the end of the second hour. Luckily in the final session of the day was incident free despite the torrential rain. Only 15 of the 27 cars in attendance took to the track with just 13 cars setting lap times.
Reflecting back upon the first day of running, the LMP1 field, of Porsche and Toyota are running relatively close together. Porsche are running at 319kph through the speed traps whilst Toyota are running at 306kph. It is important to note however, that all of the data we are gathering is relative. It is unknown exactly what set up, tyres, fuel, or programme teams are running to generate these numbers. Mike Conway set the quickest time of the day in the #7 Toyota with a time of 1:31.332 with Toyota finishing the second session of the day 1-2.
The #4 ByKolles remained in the garage for much of the day, the team waiting for components to arrive for their Nismo engine. With just half an hour left to run during the final session of the day, Robert Kubica managed to take the ENSO CLM P1/01 out on track for just six laps, posting a time of 2:17.915 on the rain soaked circuit. The team are aiming to get their testing program back underway tomorrow afternoon.
LMP2 is looking to be as close as everyone predicted. All the teams have opted to run the Oreca 07 chassis, Alpine running a modified version of the chassis which they have named the A470. All cars are running the same Gibson V8 engine. The fastest LMP2 prototype was on average just four seconds a lap slower than the fastest LMP1 hybrid. The #31 Vaillante Rebellion of Bruno Senna and Julien Canal topped the time sheets by six tenths of a second with a time of 1:36.094, Senna posting the time in what was the teams first time running in the WEC LMP2 class.
Vaillante Reblellion finished the first session of the day, 1-2 in class with the 2016 championship winning #36 Signatech Alpine taking third with the field was split by just over a second. It is going to be an incredibly close battle in LMP2 this season.
The new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR looked to be the early benchmark for the rest of the LM GTE Pro field, however, Balance of Performance will play an important part as usual in the races to come. The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GTs were the closest competitors just two tenths off the pace of the #92 Porsche whilst the now outdated Aston Martin Vantage was around half a second a lap slower on the fastest laps of each session. With the 2016 Ferrari 488GTE now becoming a customer car in the LM GTE Am category, the Aston Martin Vantage was showing its age in comparison. As in GTE Pro, the Aston was the slowest car in the category. But again BOP measures will have to be taken into account as the season progresses.
The #86 Gulf Racing Porsche was the pace setter for the Am class today. Like the LM GTE Pro Porsche, the Porsche 911 RSR (991) of Gulf Racing and Dempsey-Proton Racing dominated the top of the times for their class, finishing the two dry sessions with a one-two. The Clearwater Racing and Spirit of Race Ferraris were next to line up behind the Porsches. The situation in both GTE classes is very similar; where Ford are just off the pace of Porsche in GTE Pro, it is Ferrari who is just off the pace of the Porsches in GTE Am.