Practice report

WEC Sebring: Toyota leads Ferrari in first practice of 2023

Toyota maintained its stranglehold on the top of the times at Sebring in opening free practice for this week’s opening round of the World Endurance Championship. 

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Ryo Hirakawa knocked Ferrari driver James Calado off the top spot in the dying minutes of the one-hour Free Practice 1 session with a time more than half a second quicker than the Toyota Le Mans Hypercar managed in last weekend’s official pre-season Prologue test. 

The Japanese driver’s 1m47.649s aboard the #8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID compared to the 1m48.208s with which Jose Maria Lopez headed the times from the two-day official test that led into race week for Friday’s Sebring 1000 Miles.

Calado bounced back from an accident during the Prologue when he went quickest in the #51 Ferrari 499P 15 minutes into FP1.

He posted a 1m47.935s, which represented an improvement of 1.3s for the Ferrari LMH making its race debut in Sebring. 

Miguel Molina put the #50 Ferrari third right at the end of the session when he got down to a 1m48.039s. 

Earl Bamber found over three tenths on his Prologue best in the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R LMDh, getting down to a 1m49.090s to take fourth position.

The second Toyota ended up fifth in the when Lopez improved on Mike Conway’s previous best in the car by three tenths. 

The Argentinian driver’s 1m48.613s gave him a one tenth margin over the best of the Porsche 963 LMDhs in sixth place. 

Laurens Vanthoor’s 1m48.745s in the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport entry was just a couple of tenths up on the 1m48.043s posted by Frederic Makowiecki in #5.

Peugeot took eighth and ninth position in the Hypercar class with its 9X8 as Loic Duval was quickest of the drivers in the French LMH with a 1m49.315s, which was on a par with team-mate Nico Muller’s best for the marque at the Prologue. 

Jean-Eric Vergne was less than a tenth behind in the second Peugeot, while Olivier Pla took 10th position for Glickenhaus with a time four tenths up on the Pipo-engined 007 LMH’s Prologue best. 

Esteban Guerrieri brought up the rear in the Vanwall-Gibson Vandervell 680 LMH.

Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve started the session in the car and improved by more than four seconds during his first long run in the Vanwall

#63 Prema Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson: Doriane Pin, Mirko Bortolotti, Daniil Kvyat

#63 Prema Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson: Doriane Pin, Mirko Bortolotti, Daniil Kvyat

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Prema led the way in LMP2, Mirko Bortolotti taking class honours in the #63 ORECA-Gibson 07. 

The Italian’s 1m53.074s gave him a margin of more than two tenths over Robin Frijns in the best of the WRT ORECAs. 

The Dutch driver’s 1m50.317s was just a hundredth up on the fastest lap from Andrea Caldarelli in the second Prema entry. 

The United Autosport squad that headed the class order at the Prologue was sixth and seventh in the times with its pair of ORECAs, Oliver Jarvis ending up three tenths ahead of Phil Hanson. 

Michelle Gatting was quickest in GTE Am in the Iron Dames Ferrari 488 GTE Evo. 

Her 1m59.028s knocked Francesco Castellacci’ off the top of the times by a couple of hundredths. 

Second free practice begins at 16:45 local time at Sebring. 

WEC Sebring - FP1 results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Time Gap
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Japan Ryo Hirakawa
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'47.649  
2 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Ferrari 499P HYPERCAR 1'47.935 0.286
3 50 Italy Antonio Fuoco
Spain Miguel Molina
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Ferrari 499P HYPERCAR 1'48.039 0.390
4 2 New Zealand Earl Bamber
United Kingdom Alex Lynn
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
Cadillac V-Series.R HYPERCAR 1'48.090 0.441
5 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'48.613 0.964
6 6 France Kevin Estre
Germany Andre Lotterer
Belgium Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 963 HYPERCAR 1'48.745 1.096
7 5 United States Dane Cameron
Denmark Michael Christensen
France Frédéric Makowiecki
Porsche 963 HYPERCAR 1'49.043 1.394
8 94 France Loic Duval
United States Gustavo Menezes
Switzerland Nico Müller
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR 1'49.315 1.666
9 93 United Kingdom Paul di Resta
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
France Jean-Eric Vergne
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR 1'49.407 1.758
10 63 France Doriane Pin
Italy Mirko Bortolotti
Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.074 2.425
11 31 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
Netherlands Robin Frijns
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.317 2.668
12 9 Filip Ugran
Netherlands Bent Viscaal
Italy Andrea Caldarelli
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.338 2.689
13 28 Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson
Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi
Denmark Oliver Rasmussen
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.349 2.700
14 41 Portugal Rui Andrade
Poland Robert Kubica
Switzerland Louis Deletraz
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.382 2.733
15 23 United States Josh Pierson
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.459 2.810
16 708 France Romain Dumas
Australia Ryan Briscoe
France Olivier Pla
Glickenhaus 007 HYPERCAR M  
17 22 Frederick Lubin
United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.765 3.116
18 35 Brazil Andre Negrao
Mexico Memo Rojas
United Kingdom Olli Caldwell
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.903 3.254
19 36 France Matthieu Vaxiviere
France Julien Canal
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.013 3.364
20 4 France Tom Dillmann
Argentina Esteban Guerrieri
Canada Jacques Villeneuve
Vanwall Vandervell 680 HYPERCAR 1'51.014 3.365
21 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Spain Albert Costa
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.095 3.446
22 48 Germany David Beckmann
China Ye Yifei
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.524 3.875
23 10 Ireland Ryan Cullen
Matthias Kaiser
France Gabriel Aubry
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'52.100 4.451
24 85 Belgium Sarah Bovy
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Switzerland Rahel Frey
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.028 11.379
25 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Davide Rigon
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.053 11.404
26 33 United States Ben Keating
Nicolas Varrone
Netherlands Nick Catsburg
Chevrolet Corvette C8.R LMGTE AM 1'59.101 11.452
27 57 Japan Takeshi Kimura
United States Scott Huffaker
Brazil Daniel Serra
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.123 11.474
28 88 United States Ryan Hardwick
Canada Zacharie Robichon
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.128 11.479
29 77 Germany Christian Ried
Mikkel Pedersen
France Julien Andlauer
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.274 11.625
30 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
Italy Riccardo Pera
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.295 11.646
31 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Belgium Alessio Picariello
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.334 11.685
32 21 Italy Stefano Costantini
France Simon Mann
Ulysse De
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.393 11.744
33 83 Argentina Luis Perez Companc
France Lilou Wadoux
Italy Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.500 11.851
34 777 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Casper Stevenson
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'59.603 11.954
35 56 PJ Hyett
United States Gunnar Jeannette
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.632 11.983
36 25 United Kingdom Ahmad Al Harthy
Michael Dinan
Ireland Charles Eastwood
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 2'00.053 12.404
37 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Zimbabwe Axcil Jefferies
Denmark Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 2'00.458 12.809
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