WEC Prologue sorted - now for this weeks opening from Sebring (updated)

Monday, March 13, 2023


Well, that was the World Endurance Championship’s official Prologue test that was with the thirty-seven strong full season entry circulating around the 3.7-mile concrete and asphalt-based Sebring International Raceway, Florida ahead of this Friday’s opening round of Season 11.

Another important milestone within the Championship with more OEM machinery enters its highest Hypercar class but also 2023 sees the final year of the production car-based GTE class in Am after the curtain fell on its Pro class at the end of last season.

Officially designated as private testing, this weekend’s four available track sessions were many crews first and final opportunity to settle themselves into what may be for them a new car, race platform and circuit ahead of this week’s race preparation.

Within the three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE powered entries of Northwest AMR, ORT with TF Sport and the D’Station Racing teams, that was certainly the case as new combinations were prevalent throughout compared to their running orders of last season.

The obviously talking point ahead of the Prologue test was the vacant seat position within the #98 Northwest car alongside Paul Dalla Lana and Nikki Thiim having ‘lost’ David Pittard over the winter to FIA driving grading but with seemingly nobody else mentioned as a suitable replacement until the day. 

Only ahead of the first track session on Saturday did we learn that both Axcil Jefferies and Thomas Merril would be going head-to-head for the seat – just like Pittard had done with Henrique Chaves this time last year when there was still debate over the validity of Pittard’s then silver grade so there is still a big decision to be made there for the team again.

In the #777 D’Station car, it was something new for Caspar Stevenson as he steps up a GT grade to the GTE class for the first time having spent a successful season last year within a GT3 based platform. Whilst the car, team and circuit would have been familiar for Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii, it would have been important for Stevenson to hit his datum points of performance early on seeing the reliance upon the cars silver grade driver within the GTE Am class.

Finally, there is the new for 2023 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport entry of Ahmad Al Harthy, Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood as the Omani and American racers step up to the WEC for the first time and into a GTE for the first time for Dinan. With Eastwood having much more experience of both compared, the Prologue data would suggest that the #25 car was there or their abouts compared to their peers at the end of the day.

Lap times wise – stating the obvious that all three Aston Martins never featured above the final three cars in class is probably nothing to worry about as we have seen this time and time again where the crews simply run through their test and set programme without really showing any absolute indication of pace (or lack off). Comparing this weekend’s pace with that of the race weekend last year, they were all running at least 0.6 second slower but with a differing Balance of Performance set up to then.

The crews will now be stripping down their cars again ahead of this week’s Free Practice sessions that start again on Wednesday through to Thursday evening’s Qualifying session and Fridays start to the 1000miles of Sebring opener.


Just a few hours after posting this, the Northwest AMR team confirmed that Axcil Jefferies will be their third and silver graded driver within the #98 car alongside Paul Dalla Lana and Nikki Thiim.

Photo credits – A Lofthouse / D Gibson / Teams / social media
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