WEC Sebring: Toyota fastest but suffers crash in truncated final practice
Toyota completed a practice clean sweep for the World Endurance Championship's Sebring season opener, although Jose Maria Lopez suffered damage with a late crash in the final 60-minute session.
Kamui Kobayashi set a blistering time of 1m45.783s in the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID to lead a one-two finish for the Japanese marque ahead of Thursday’s afternoon qualifying for the Sebring 1000 Miles.
The 36-year-old set his fastest lap with 40 minutes remaining, dethroning the #50 Ferrari that had sat atop the timesheets with Antonio Fuoco at the wheel.
His time was a full 1.2s quicker than Wednesday’s benchmark time set by Brendon Hartley in the sister #8 car and cemented Toyota’s status as the favourite for pole position in the expanded 11-car Hypercar class.
However, it wasn’t a clean session for the #7 car with Kobayashi’s team-mate Lopez hitting the barriers at Turn 13 rear-first in the final 10 minutes of practice, a year on from his double incident that allowed rival Alpine to win the race.
The impact led to some visible damage and, with Nicklas Nielsen also crashing his #50 Ferrari at almost the same time, the session was red-flagged with just under six minutes left on the clock.
A decision was made not to resume practice, but the #7 Toyota still ended up fastest courtesy of Kobayashi’s early time.
Hartley ensured Toyota finished first and second despite the late drama, but he ended up more than six tenths adrift of Kobayashi despite having set his quickest lap time just second after his Japanese squadmate.
Ferrari was again Toyota’s quickest challenger in practice, with Fuoco’s early time of 1m46.77s good enough for third on the timesheets, albeit a second down on Kobayashi’s chart-topping effort.
Cadillac jumped to fourth late in the final 10 minutes when Alex Lynn lapped the Sebring International Circuit in 1m47.155s aboard the #2 Chip Ganassi Racing V-Series.R.
#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Peugeot enjoyed its most competitive outing of the weekend so far with Mikkel Jensen lapping the #93 9X8 in 1m47.965s, although it was still two seconds slower than the fastest time of the day.
The two Porsche Penske cars finished sixth and eighth respectively, with Michael Christensen the faster of the two in the #5 963 LMDh.
The two Porsches were split by Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 Ferrari 499P, while the sole Glickenhaus finished 10th with Romain Dumas at the wheel.
The #4 Vanwall stopped on track just after the pit exit at the start of practice, with Tom Dillmann reporting a lack of power from the car’s non-hybrid Gibson engine. A full course yellow had to be deployed to retrieve the car, which didn’t return later in practice - losing a full-hour of mileage as a result.
Pietro Fittipaldi again led the way for Jota in the LMP2 division, improving his own benchmark from Wednesday to a 1m50.102s in the #28 ORECA-Gibson 07.
Philip Hanson ended up second in the #22 United Autosports ORECA with a time fractionally slower than Fittipaldi, while third-place went to the other Jota LMP2 entry piloted by Yifei Ye.
Oliver Jarvis’ time of 1m50.291s in the #23 ORECA made it a duopoly for Jota and United at the front end of the LMP2 field, as the four cars from the two teams were separated by just 0.163s seconds at the end of the session.
Lamborghini driver Mirko Bortolotti put the #63 Prema in fifth place with his best effort of 1m1m50.409s, which was 0.281s down on the fastest class time of the session.
In GTE Am, factory Aston Martin driver Nicki Thiim set the fastest time in the #98 Northwest AMR Vantage GTE, beating the #86 GR Racing Porsche of Riccardo Pera by 0.043s.
Daniel Serra finished another 0.011s adrift in third position with his #57 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE.
WEC Sebring - FP3 results:
|1||7|| Mike Conway
Jose Maria Lopez
|Toyota GR010 - Hybrid||HYPERCAR||1'45.783|
|2||8|| Sébastien Buemi
|Toyota GR010 - Hybrid||HYPERCAR||1'46.392||0.609|
|3||50|| Antonio Fuoco
|4||2|| Earl Bamber
|5||93|| Paul di Resta
|6||5|| Dane Cameron
|7||51|| Alessandro Pier Guidi
|8||6|| Kevin Estre
|9||94|| Loic Duval
|10||28|| David Heinemeier Hansson
|12||48|| David Beckmann
|13||23|| Josh Pierson
|14||63|| Doriane Pin
|15||36|| Matthieu Vaxiviere
|17||31|| Sean Gelael
|18||35|| Andre Negrao
|19||708|| Romain Dumas
|20||41|| Rui Andrade
|21||34|| Jakub Smiechowski
|22||10|| Ryan Cullen
|23||98|| Paul Dalla Lana
|Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||1'59.030||13.247|
|24||86|| Michael Wainwright
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||1'59.073||13.290|
|25||57|| Takeshi Kimura
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||1'59.084||13.301|
|26||54|| Thomas Flohr
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||1'59.093||13.310|
|27||33|| Ben Keating
|Chevrolet Corvette C8.R||LMGTE AM||1'59.098||13.315|
|28||83|| Luis Perez Companc
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||1'59.119||13.336|
|29||77|| Christian Ried
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||1'59.210||13.427|
|30||21|| Stefano Costantini
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||1'59.216||13.433|
|31||60|| Claudio Schiavoni
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||1'59.325||13.542|
|32||85|| Sarah Bovy
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||1'59.487||13.704|
|33||25|| Ahmad Al Harthy
|Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||1'59.622||13.839|
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||1'59.637||13.854|
|35||777|| Satoshi Hoshino
|Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||2'00.880||15.097|
|36||4|| Tom Dillmann
|Vanwall Vandervell 680||HYPERCAR|
|37||88|| Ryan Hardwick
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM|
|View full results|
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