In exactly one week's time, the 2016 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season will move one step closer when competitors gather at Circuit Paul Ricard for a two-day test session beginning Friday 25 March. Entry to the circuit is free for spectators on Saturday 26 March.
As the winter break draws to a close, endurance drivers and fans are all making their way back to the tracks. Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France will once again host the Prologue, where 29 cars will line up for two days of serious testing, including a night-time session on the Friday.
In LM P1, Audi, Porsche and Toyota will of course be in attendance, while the LM P2 class will feature some of the world’s finest endurance racing teams, including G-Drive Racing, Signatech Alpine, Extreme Speed Motorsports and SMP Racing. The LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am lineups are pretty impressive too with the new Ferrari 488 GTEs and the much-anticipated Ford GTs. There will be two Aston Martin Vantages, which boast some new aerodynamic features this season, and then the Porsches and Larbre Compétition’s Corvette C7.
If you think that there is nothing much at stake during the Prologue tests, think again! While there is no race and there are no points up for grabs, this is the first time that the 2016 teams are all out on the track together and a decisive opportunity for them to pit themselves against their rivals. They will all be trying to get the upper hand psychologically as they show off the progress made since the end of last season.
On Saturday 26 March, admission to Circuit Paul Ricard is free of charge - why not go along? There will be an autograph session and pit walk, a chance to get up close to the high-flyers from the world of endurance racing. All eyes will be on the Prologue as we wait for the WEC season to open at Silverstone and then the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 18 and 19 June.
WEC 2016 Prologue Schedule
Friday 25 March
9 am-1 pm: First test session
2 pm-6 pm: Second test session
7 pm-9 pm: Third (night-time) test session
Saturday 26 March
9 am-1 pm: Fourth test session
1:15 pm-1:45 pm Autograph session and pit walk
2 pm-5 pm: Fifth test session
(All times - Central European Time/UTC+1)
Geoffroy Barre | Translated from French by Clair Pickworth
Photo: Official poster for the WEC 2016 Prologue on 25 and 26 March.