Jota Porsche remains quickest in second session

Callum Ilott set the pace aboard the British team’s #12 Porsche 963 LMDh in the night session on Monday with a 1m40.541s laid down in the opening minutes of five hours running on the Losail International Circuit.

The two privateer Jota cars hit the ground running in the second of four sessions of the two-day Prologue after taking part in the optional Monday afternoon period, in which the majority of the Hypercar field did not participate.

Jenson Button was second in the times for the first two hours in the #38 entry with a 1m40.950s until he was leapfrogged by Antonio Fuoco in the best of the AF Corse-run factory Ferrari 499P Le Mans Hypercars.

Fuoco got within three tenths of Ilott with a 1m40.673s aboard the #50 Ferrari, which demoted Button to third in the final times.

The #51 Ferrari was at the sharp end of the field from the beginning, James Calado lining up behind the Jota cars before team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi sealed fourth position with 1m41.026s.

Earl Bamber ended up fifth in the solo Ganassi-run Cadillac Racing entry.

The Kiwi moved up a position in the penultimate hour when he knocked four tenths off his previous mark. His 1m41.196s eclipsed Yifei Ye’s 1m49.465s to push AF’s customer Ferrari down to sixth.

A late improvement to 1m41.587s from Mikkel Jensen promoted the #93 Peugeot 9X8s LMH to seventh in the final classification.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 — Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Michael Christensen ended up eighth on 1m41.913s in the best-placed of the Porsche Penske Motorsport entries.

Ninth place went to BMW, the first of the manufacturers new to Hypercar this season.

Marco Wittmann ended up just six hundredths behind the factory Porsche courtesy of a 1m41.971s in the fastest of the WRT-run BMW M Hybrid V8s LMDhs.

Laurens Vanthoor rounded out the top 10 in the second works Porsche 963s on 1m42.013s.

Eleventh went to Rene Rast in the second BMW, while Stoffel Vandoorne took 12th for the #94 Peugeot.

Sebastien Buemi was 13th in the best of the Toyota GR010 HYBRID LMHs with a 1m42.452s, which left the reigning champion marque nearly two seconds off the pace around the 3.37-mile Losail circuit.

The second Toyota was a further three tenths behind in 15th position in Mike Conway’s hands, but the two Japanese cars were at the top of the charts in terms of laps completed over the five hours.

Lamborghini lined up 16th on the first competitive outing for its SC63 LMDh run by Iron Lynx, while the two Alpine A424 LMDhs took 17th and 18th in the 19-car Hypercar field.

The new LMGT3 class was again headed by the United Autosports McLaren squad, one of only three teams in the division to take part in the opening session.

#59 United Autosports McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo: James Cottingham, Nicolas Costa, Gregoire Saucy

#59 United Autosports McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo: James Cottingham, Nicolas Costa, Gregoire Saucy

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Gregoire Saucy posted the fastest time in the #59 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo, a 1m54.480s giving him an advantage of less than a tenth over Davide Rigon’s AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3.

His #54 AF entry stopped early on with fuel and then clutch issues, but was repaired in time for the Italian to post a 1m54.542s.

Third fastest was Esteban Masson in the #87 Auto Sport Promotion Lexus RC F GT3 on 1m54.565s.

The new evo version of Aston Martin’s Vantage GT3 took fourth in Heart of Racing driver David Mancinelli’s hands courtesy of a 1m54.617s to end up just ahead of the #82 TF Sport Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R with Daniel Juncadella at the wheel.

The Spaniard ended up on 1m54.691s and Marco Sorensen just behind on 1m54.693s in the D’station Aston as the top six in class lapped within just over two tenths of each other.

The session was red-flagged three times, the last stoppage caused by a pair of stray cats on track.

The Prologue resumes at 10:00 local time on Tuesday.

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