Hertz Team JOTA fatest on day one of 2024 Prologue Test in Qatar
Photo: WEC

Hertz Team JOTA fatest on day one of 2024 Prologue Test in Qatar

The 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship burst into life with the start of the official Prologue test in readiness for the Qatar Airways Qatar 1812kms race this Saturday.

The season promises to be the best ever in WEC’s 12 year history as 19 Hypercars and 18 LMGT3 entries with multiple manufacturers in each class will do battle over eight thrilling rounds in the world’s greatest endurance competition.

Two sessions were run at the challenging 5.418-mile Qatari circuit today with the vast majority of the teams electing to use the evening session.

The earlier running saw the pair of JOTA Porsche 963s lead the way with team newcomer Norman Nato setting a best of 1m41.822 at the wheel of the team’s No. 12 car.

That bettered a 1m43.206 best set by Jenson Button in the No. 38 JOTA as the 2009 F1 world champion returns to the WEC for the first time since 2019.

Topping the six LMGT3 runners in the opening session was the No. 59 United Autosports McLaren 720s GT3 Evo driven by WEC rookie Nicolas Costa who peaked on a best lap of 1m56.583.

The No.81 TF Sport Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs was second in LMGT3 as Charlie Eastwood set a 1m56.634 lap, while Chilean ace Nico Pino placed the second United Autosport McLaren third with a 1m56.679.

Hertz Team JOTA again headed the five hours of evening testing but this time it was Callum Ilott who lapped quicker on a 1m40.541s in the No.12 Porsche.

That was just over 0.1s faster than the No.51 Ferrari AF Corse 499P. Antonio Fuoco set the pace in the car he shares with Nicklas Nielsen and Miguel Molina.

The No.38 JOTA Porsche sandwiched the Ferrari as Jenson Button again set the best time in the car he shares with Oliver Rasmussen and Phil Hanson.

Antonio Giovinazzi gave some synchronicity to the top four with a time that was just 0.076s off Button’s best in the No.51 Ferrari AF Corse entry.

In LMGT3 United Autosports again place top of the timing screens as Gregoire Saucy laid down a 1m54.480s lap to head the VISTA AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 driven by Davide Rigon.

Placing third was the Akkodis ASP Lexus RC F car as WEC rookie Esteban Masson laps just 0.023s off Rigon’s Ferrari.

Three red flags flew in the evening session.

The first came when Thomas Flohr suffered a mechanical issue in the No.54 VISTA Ferrari 296 and had to be recovered. The car was repaired and re-entered the fray later in the session.

The second stoppage was for Harry Tincknell’s stranded No.19 Proton Competition Porsche 963 Hypercar car in the Turn 3 gravel halfway through the evening session, and then the third was called after a cat reported to have entered the track in the penultimate hour.

Further testing in the 2024 Prologue takes place on Tuesday with sessions scheduled to take place between 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm local time.

Cliclk HERE to read more about where you can watch this weekend's season-opener.