Toyota dominates 1000 Miles of Sebring
The 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship kicked off with a thrilling race at the 1000 Miles of Sebring, with Toyota emerging as the dominant force. The Toyota team, consisting of drivers Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and Jose Maria Lopez, secured victory, with their sister car driven by Brendon Hartley coming in second.
Toyota put in a strong performance at the season-opening 1000 Miles of Sebring in the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and Jose Maria Lopez taking the victory. The sister #8 Toyota driven by Brendon Hartley came in second, finishing x seconds behind the winning car. Despite the efforts of Hartley and his teammates Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa, they were unable to surpass their Toyota colleagues.
Despite securing pole position on Thursday with Antonio Fuoco in the #50 Ferrari 499P, the highly-anticipated car could only clinch third place, driven by Fuoco, Nicklas Nielsen, and Miguel Molina, and finishing two laps behind the victorious Toyota in the race. While there was a lot of excitement surrounding the possibility of Ferrari matching Toyota’s pace, Toyota ultimately had the advantage on the track. Moreover, Toyota’s ability to prolong fuel stints compared to Ferrari and the LMDh-rules Hypercars from Porsche and Cadillac meant that the Japanese-German cars spent less time in the pits.
After starting the car, Fuoco and the #50 Ferrari took the lead from pole position. However, due to an early safety car caused by Luis Perez Companc’s crash in the #83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, Ferrari opted to pit both cars – Fuoco from the lead and his teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi in the sister #51. Unfortunately, this strategy proved to be incorrect due to Toyota’s superior fuel consumption. Fuoco and his team also faced a drive-through penalty for overtaking before the safety car line during the race restart, followed by a pitstop infraction resulting in a five-second penalty at the next stop.
On the other hand, Pier Guidi and his teammates James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, did not match the pace of their team car. During the race, Pier Guidi encountered trouble while overtaking GTE-Am cars, resulting in a tangle that caused a left rear puncture, and the car had to be taken to the garage for repairs due to the damage caused by the shredded tire. The car eventually finished 15th overall. Meanwhile, the best LMDh-rules car was the #2 Cadillac V-Series.R driven by Alex Lynn, Richard Westbrook, and Earl Bamber, finishing approximately eight seconds behind the third-placed Ferrari, with Toyota taking first and second place in the race.
During the race, the Cadillac failed to match the pace of both the Ferrari and the Toyota. Although the #50 Ferrari faced penalties, it was able to catch up and overtake the Cadillac, resulting in a close competition between the two cars after eight hours of racing. The two Porsches finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively. The #5 Porsche 963, driven by Fred Makowiecki, Michael Christensen, and Dane Cameron, completed a total of four laps behind the Toyotas and two laps behind the fourth-placed Cadillac. The #6 Porsche, driven by Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre, and Andre Lotterer, finished 24 seconds behind its sister car.
At Sebring, the Porsche cars were not too far behind the Cadillac in terms of pace, similar to their performance at Daytona during their debut race. However, the Cadillac gradually built a lead over the two Penske-run Porsche cars. Despite this, Porsche had a positive outcome as the car did not encounter any reliability issues, unlike the problems the team faced with their 963s at Daytona in January.
The #4 Vanwall Vandervell 680 driven by Tom Dillmann, Jacques Villeneuve, and Esteban Guerrieri finished the race in 30th place overall. The car had a good start and was ahead of the factory Peugeots and LMP2s for the first half of the race. However, the team formerly known as ByKolles faced setbacks during the second half of the race.
During a full course yellow period to recover debris, the #4 Vanwall Vandervell 680 was rear-ended by Mikkel Jensen in the #94 Peugeot, resulting in significant damage to the car’s rear bodywork. As a result, Guerrieri had to pit and the car was taken to the garage for repairs, causing the car to drop from its top 10 position to among the LMP2 cars.
Later in the race, Jacques Villeneuve spun the #4 Vanwall Vandervell 680 at the exit of Sunset Bend, although he didn’t collide with anything. However, the right rear suspension was broken, causing the car to bounce excessively over the Sebring bumps. The team pitted the car for repairs, causing it to drop down the field to 30th place, where it ultimately finished.
The two Peugeots also faced multiple reliability issues and problems during the race, resulting in both cars finishing behind the Vanwall. This was yet another challenging race for the still-new 9X8 French squad.
The #708 Glickenhaus 007 retired from the race midway after Romain Dumas was unable to get the car going again when it stopped off the racing line at Sunset Bend. Despite its retirement, the car did not have the necessary pace to challenge the frontrunners and was even battling with LMP2s at times.
Will Stevens, David Beckmann, and Yiefi Ye emerged victorious in LMP2 after an intense battle with their competitors. The #22 United Autosports Oreca 07-Gibson, which started on pole, encountered an issue and stopped on track with Phil Hanson behind the wheel. Later, the car had to be towed behind the barriers, resulting in its retirement. The team later confirmed that a faulty on-board camera installation that was not installed by the team caused the problem.
In the last hour of the race, the LMP2 competition intensified as it became apparent that the leading cars of Will Stevens, Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 Prema Oreca 07-Gibson, and Filipe Albuquerque in the #23 United Autosports Oreca 07-Gibson might require a fuel splash to make it to the end of the race.
Stevens pitted the #48 JOTA for fuel with approximately 40 minutes left, but it was clear that the car would not be able to make it to the finish without a splash-and-dash fuel stop. Consequently, Stevens began building a gap to Bortolotti and Albuquerque behind, expanding the gap to over 1 minute and 25 seconds to the Italian driver in the Prema machine, with Albuquerque a further 10 seconds behind.
When the fuel ran out, Stevens pitted and emerged from the pit lane just three seconds behind Bortolotti, setting the stage for a nail-biting finish. However, Bortolotti eventually had to stop with just three minutes remaining in the race, as the Italian was unable to make it to the end without a very short fuel splash.
Bortolotti exited the pit lane in third place, just under 30 seconds behind Albuquerque, who was now only 2.863 seconds away from Stevens. However, there wasn’t enough time left for the Portuguese driver to catch up to the JOTA car, resulting in Stevens taking the win from Albuquerque and Bortolotti.
In the GTE-Am class, Nicolas Varrone, Ben Keating, and Nicky Catsburg secured victory in the #33 Corvette C8.R, finishing two laps ahead of the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR-19 driven by Julien Andlauer, Christian Reid, and Mikkel Pedersen.
Initially, the #33 Corvette crew was expected to have a race-long battle with the #85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR-19 driven by Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey, and Michelle Gatting. However, midway through the race, Frey lost the rear diffuser bodywork when she drove the pink Porsche onto the grass. As a result, the Iron Dames car had to pit to have the bodywork replaced, causing a time loss from which they never recovered.
Subsequently, Keating, Varrone, and Catsburg extended their lead over the competition, staying out of trouble and leading the race at the top of every hour.
The #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR-19 finished second in class, and the third position in the GTE-Am class went to the #57 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo driven by Daniel Serra, Scott Huffaker, and Takeshi Kimura, finishing a further 14.5 seconds behind the Dempsey-Proton Porsche.
|1||7||Mike Conway (UK), Kamui Kobayashi (JPN), Jose Maria Lopez (ARG)||Toyota GR010 – Hybrid||HYPERCAR||239||–|
|2||8||Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Brendon Hartley (NZL), Ryo Hirakawa (JPN)||Toyota GR010 – Hybrid||HYPERCAR||239||2.168|
|3||50||Antonio Fuoco (ITA), Miguel Molina (ESP), Nicklas Nielsen (DEN)||Ferrari 499P||HYPERCAR||237||2 laps|
|4||2||Earl Bamber (NZL), Alex Lynn (UK), Richard Westbrook (UK)||Cadillac V-Series.R||HYPERCAR||237||2 laps|
|5||5||Dane Cameron (USA), Michael Christensen (DEN), Frederic Makowiecki (FRA)||Porsche 963||HYPERCAR||235||4 laps|
|6||6||Kevin Estre (FRA), Andre Lotterer (GER), Laurens Vanthoor (BEL)||Porsche 963||HYPERCAR||235||4 laps|
|7||48||David Beckmann (GER), Ye Yifei (CHN), Will Stevens (UK)||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|8||22||Frederick Lubin (UK), Philip Hanson (UK), Filipe Albuquerque (POR)||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|9||63||Doriane Pin (FRA), Mirko Bortolotti (ITA), Daniil Kvyat (RUS)||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|10||34||Jakub Smiechowski (POL), Fabio Scherer (SUI), Albert Costa (ESP)||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|11||41||Rui Andrade (POR), Robert Kubica (POL), Louis Deletraz (SUI)||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|12||28||David Heinemeier Hansson (DEN), Pietro Fittipaldi (BRA), Oliver Rasmussen (DEN)||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|13||31||Sean Gelael (IDN), Ferdinand Habsburg (AUT), Robin Frijns (NED)||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|14||9||Filip Ugran, Bent Viscaal (NED), Andrea Caldarelli (ITA)||Oreca 07||LMP2||229||10 laps|
|15||51||Alessandro Pier Guidi (ITA), James Calado (UK), Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA)||Ferrari 499P||HYPERCAR||228||11 laps|
Toyota dominates 1000 Miles of Sebring in FIA World Endurance Toyota dominates 1000 Miles of Sebring in FIA World Endurance Toyota dominates 1000 Miles of Sebring in FIA World Endurance Toyota dominates 1000 Miles of Sebring in FIA World Endurance World Endurance Toyota dominates 1000 Miles of Sebring in FIA World Endurance 2023
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