Former Porsche LMP1 driver Brendon Hartley turned his first laps in a Toyota TS050 HYBRID today at Spa-Francorchamps, ahead of his forthcoming debut FIA WEC season with Toyota Gazoo Racing.
The former Le Mans winner and WEC champion joined the Japanese team for a two-day test ahead of next month’s Le Mans 24 Hours. Toyota has completed plenty of mileage at Spa with both its TS050 HYBRIDs in their low-downforce configuration, and Hartley says that his first day behind the wheel today has been “going really well.”
Hartley was sharing driving duties with Jose Maria Lopez and Sebastien Buemi, who will continue racing with the Japanese team in LMP1 next season. The former Toro Rosso F1 driver’s next run with Toyota will be at the Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day next month.
In addition to Toyota, three other cars have been running at Spa in the two days of track time. Ginetta has been running a single G60-LT-P1. Its AER-powered G60-LT-P1 is in the midst of being prepared for the next WEC season, the entry list for which looks set to feature a pair of Ginettas after company chairman Lawrence Tomlinson confirmed to RACER that the UK-based manufacturer had filed for two entries yesterday ahead of the deadline.
The Ginetta topped the times, on a day in which Toyota was running systems checks, by a significant margin, the car setting multiple sub-two-minute lap times.
The other two cars were GTE cars, a Ferrari and a Porsche.
German outfit Proton Competition was running the Porsche (pictured above), preparing for Le Mans with its new Monegasque trio of Vincent Abril and the father-son duo of Louis and Philippe Prette.
It’s been a successful run for Proton’s new drivers, who will race in GTE Am at Le Mans and aim to compete at Shanghai during the next WEC season as a one-off.
Proton Competition boss Christian Ried told RACER that the three drivers have relished the chance to try out the team’s brand new 911 RSR in both dry and wet conditions this week.
“It’s been a great effort,” he said. “Yesterday they had the chance to test in the wet, which was good. It’s their first time in a GTE car. The main thing yesterday was just to get them track time, and make sure the car works well. It went perfectly.
“Now it’s dry, and it’s perfect for us. Vincent (a former Bentley factory driver) has done plenty of GT3 running, so it’s been fine for him. For the father and son, they’ve done LMP3, Ferrari Challenge, but this is their first time in a GTE Porsche.”
The Ferrari on hand at Spa was run by Michelotto on behalf of the manufacturer, the Italian outfit running a development car with factory drivers Alessandro Pier Guidi and Davide Rigon.
Unfortunately, the team was forced to scramble to source a new 488 GTE for Day 2, after Pier Guidi was involved in a huge off during the afternoon of Day 1. The Italian was unhurt but the car suffered significant damage to its front, rear and left-hand side from the impact (pictured below).
Today Michelotto has been using a (Rinaldi Racing) GT3-spec 488 converted into a GTE for today’s track action.