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WEC: Toyota sets pace in Sebring’s practice sessions

  • gb

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s GR010 Hybrid topped both Free Practice sessions preceding this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship’s season opener, 1000 Miles of Sebring, courtesy of Ryo Hirakawa and Kamui Kobayashi respectively

The No.8 car in the hands of Ryo Hirakawa topped the first of today’s sessions with a late peak of 1m47.649s.

Before Hirakawa’s best lap, it was Ferrari AF Corse’s James Calado aboard the new Ferrari 499P sitting atop the times for the majority of the first official FIA WEC session of the season. Calado’s best was 0.3s faster than the sister Ferrari 499P Hypercar of stablemate Miguel Molina. 

Fourth was the new Cadillac V-Series.R driven by Earl Bamber, who recorded the best lap of 1m48.090.

José María López in the No.7 Toyota went fifth-fastest owing to a 1m48.613 lap, just to edge out the pair of Porsche Penske Porsche 963 Hypercars, with Laurens Vanthoor and Frederic Makowiecki setting the best times for the German manufacturer.

Peugeot TotalEnergies ended the session in eighth and ninth positions with Jean-Éric Vergne and Loïc Duval being the fastest among the drivers of the striking Peugeot 9X8s. 

The sole Glickenhaus Racing entry rounded out the top ten with Olivier Pla setting 1m50.663s in the Glickenhaus 007 LMH.

Mirko Bortolotti put Prema atop LMP2 with the best lap of 1m50.074s, while Robin Frijns, making his racing returns following a hand injury, claimed the second-best lap in the class.

In the LMGTE Am it was the Iron Dames squad leading in the 14-car-strong category in what is the team’s first competitive outing following its switch to Porsche machinery. Michelle Gatting scorched to a best tour of 1m59.028s.

In the second practice of the day, it was the other of the two Toyotas, the No.7 car driven by Kamui Kobayashi, that topped the times.

The Japanese racer was the first driver who broke into the 1:46s, with the best lap of 1m46.954s. A 1m47.272s from team-mate Brendon Hartley sealed a 1-2 for the manufacturer.

The No.50 car was the fastest of the Ferraris on this occasion, owing to Antonio Fuoco’s 1m48.121s.

Cadillac Racing was fourth this time as well, with Richard Westbrook being the fastest driver of the US manufacturer’s solo entry on this occasion.

Westbrook was however involved in a contact with the No.88 Proton Porsche 911 RSR 19 driven by Ryan Hardwick which brought out the first of the two red flags. 

The No.51 Ferrari AF Corse took fifth with Alessandro Pier Guidi posting a 1m48.606s, while a 1m49.700s from Olivier Pla allowed Glickenhaus to round out the top six. 

In LMP2 it was Pietro Fittipaldi and Jota that topped the timing screens, while in LMGTE Am it was Ferrari atop with Daniel Serra at 1m58.845.

The second red flag of the session was brought out after Serra's team-mate Takashi Kimura spun and stalled on the track.