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WEC Prologue: Toyota kicks off with 1-2, Cadillac responds in afternoon session

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A new era of the FIA World Endurance Championship racing, highlighted by an 11-car-strong Hypercar entry, has burst into life with this Saturday's Prologue, which traditionally takes place ahead of the season-opening 1000 Miles of Sebring

All 37 entries took to the track as new manufacturers, teams and drivers started to familiarise themselves with the legendary Sebring International Raceway.

Setting the fastest time of the three-hour session was the No.7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry driven by José María López, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. The Argentinian stopped the clocks with a best of 1m48.208s to lap just a fraction faster than its sister machine.

Ryo Hirakawa claimed the best lap of 1m48.293s in the No.8 entry that he will share in his second WEC season with experienced team-mates Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi.

Third in Hypercar was the No.2 Cadillac Racing entry campaigned by Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Richard Westbrook. It was the latter who claimed the time in the all-new Cadillac V-Series R Hypercar.

Porsche Penske Motorsport placed fourth with the new Porsche 963 Hypercar as Frederic Makowiecki stopped the clocks on a 1m49.610s best.

Ferrari AF Corse began preparations for the season-opener with a pair of striking Ferrari 499P Hypercars. Alessandro Pier Guidi set the fifth fastest time of the session on a 1m49.724s lap for the "Prancing Horse".

Also in action were the pair of Peugeot 9X8 Hypercars, the popular Glickenhaus 007 and an all-new entry from the Floyd Vanwall Racing Team.

In LMP2 United Autosports topped the times as Phil Hanson lapped in a best of 1m51.722s for the Anglo/US operation.

The LMGTE Am class witnessed the Iron Dames come out on top as Michelle Gatting’s 1m59.913 was one of only three times to go below the two-minute barrier.

The Iron Dames crew of Gatting, Sarah Bovy and Rahel Frey have swapped from Ferrari to Porsche for 2023

Cadillac Racing’s Earl Bamber led the way in the second test session of the day. The Kiwi set a fastest lap of 1m48.429s as Cadillac prepares for its home race.

Two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Bamber shares the No.2 Cadillac V-Series R Hypercar with teammates Lynn and Westbrook, and he headed the No.8 Toyota GR10 Hybrid Hypercar by a slender 0.014s.

Buemi’s 1m48.443 just shaded the No.7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry with López again claiming the best time aboard the car he shares with Kobayashi and Conway.

Ferrari AF Corse placed fourth and fifth in the three-hour session as its No.50 car headed the sister No.51 entry. The two Antonios of Fuoco and Giovinazzi set the times.

Penske Porsche took sixth and seventh in the Hypercar category as the No.5 Porsche 963 Hypercar headed the No.6 car, with Makowiecki and Laurens Vanthoor setting the respective times.

Peugeot TotalEnergies made it five manufacturers in the top eight as the No.94 Peugeot 9X8 peaked on a 1m51.035s lap courtesy of Nico Mueller.

However, there was a misfortune for the No.93 Peugeot as Jean-Eric Vergne suffered an accident midway through the session after an incident with the Vector Sport LMP2 car. The Peugeot sustained bodywork damage in an excursion. 

The car Vergne shares with Paul di Resta and Mikkel Jensen was ninth in Hypercar thanks to the young Dane’s early session time.

Glickenhaus rounded out the top ten thanks to Olivier Pla, while the Floyd Vanwall Racing Team lapped 0.7s off the Glickenhaus.

In LMP2 Hanson again proved to be quickest as he set a fastest lap of 1m51.492s in the No.22 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson.

That time was 0.5s ahead of the No.63 Prema car, as WEC debutant Daniil Kvyat peaked on a 1m51.534s lap. Third in LMP2 was the No.41 Team WRT car as Louis Deletraz lapped just 0.097s off Kvyat’s time.

LMGTE Am again proved tight as the Iron Dames Porsche again proves quick. Gatting reprises her first session form with a rapid 1m59.201 to again lead the 14-car class.