There was no sign of an Easter break for the World Endurance Championship contenders as the new season officially got underway with the 'prologue' test at Paul Ricard in the south of France.

Reigning world champion Porsche set the pace in both daylight sessions as runners and riders geared up for the opening round of the 2016 season at Silverstone next month.

Having seen Neel Jani post the quickest time of the morning session, Romain Dumas ensured that the German giant would remain on top of the standings by clocking a 1m 37.960s best in the 919 Hybrid after lunch. Both times were slower than those posted at the same circuit last season, but that was of no concern to Porsche, who enjoyed significant margins back to their expected rivals in both sessions.

While Jani was more than two seconds clear of the Toyota and Audi opposition in the early session, Dumas enjoyed a smaller, but equally comfortable, 1.4s advantage over the #7 Audi in the afternoon, albeit with his rival having been hobbled by missing significant track time as gremlins were tracked down and eliminated at the start of the session.

The Toyota was a further tenth of a second back, with the privateer LMP1 entries from Rebellion and ByKolles 4.8s and 5.0s adrift respectively.

The LMP2 runners were split by 'just' 0.6s at the second chequered flag, with the Strakka Racing Gibson-Nissan setting the pace at 1m 46.976s in the hands of Jonny Kane. The Briton guided the #42 machine to top spot ahead of the #43 Ligier and #36 Alpine, the latter having already shown potential via its #35 sister car when Nelson Panciatici went quickest for Baxi DC Racing in the morning session. Kane's afternoon time was only a tenth quicker than the Frenchman had recorded at the head of an Alpine 1-2 before the break.

AF Corse upheld Ferrari honour in the face of Ford opposition in both sessions, with Gianmaria Bruni and Davide Rigon posting the fastest GTE-Pro times in morning and afternoon respectively. The best of the new Ford GTs - of which two were in action - was only a matter of tenths adrift before the 4pm cut-off, however. Paolo Ruberti and Pierre Ragues kept the Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette to GTE-Am top spot in both sessions, ahead of Emmanuel Collard in the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia. .

A two-hour 'night' session will complete day one's programme, starting at 1900hrs local time.



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