The #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez beat the sister #8 entry of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa at Sebring International Raceway’s WEC opener.
The #8 car led for the opening half of the race but the #7 took command after a particularly rapid out-lap from Lopez in the fifth hour, as Hirakawa took longer to get up to speed. Earlier, Hartley had just managed to hold his position at the front, even when he had to make two pitstops in rapid succession in the fourth hour, including one to top up on fuel under a full-course yellow.
The cars were just half a second apart with 90 minutes remaining, as Kobayashi and Buemi took over. But Buemi reported that his car became undrivable in traffic and fell away by over 10s as the race entered its final hour, which more than doubled after a slow final pitstop, meaning their battle was over and they cruised to a crushing 1-2.
Behind them – two laps in arrears – was a fierce battle for the final step on the podium. The #50 Ferrari 499P that Antonio Fuoco had qualified on pole position, led early on but a strategy decision to pit under an early safety car backfired.
He was hit with a drive-through at the restart and a further 5s penalty for not following correct procedure, while the #51 sister car suffered a further delay that dropped both into the middle of the Hypercar pack.
With two hours to go, Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 car clipped the #54 GTE Am Ferrari 488 of Francesco Castellacci at Turn 15, near the pit entry, and spun into the #56 Project 1 Porsche, smashing its left-rear corner – which Pier Guidi further damaged having to drag the car around on three wheels, sending it to the garage for 20 minutes.
#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Before that, the Ferraris had enjoyed some entertaining on-track battles with the pair of Porsche Penske Motorsport 963s and the single Cadillac V-Series.R, with the latter being delayed when Alex Lynn suffered a drive-through penalty for not respecting the FCY procedure at the end of hour 2.
The Cadillac – piloted by Lynn, Earl Bamber and Richard Westbrook – just missed out on a podium finish, and chased home the #50 Ferrari of Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen, which gave Ferrari a podium finish in the car’s first start.
The Porsche 963s finished a distant fifth and sixth, another two laps down, with the #6 of Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor aided in the intra-team battle when the #5 of Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen and Frederic Makowiecki earned a drive-through penalty for an FCY infringement. But an electrical system reset with an hour remaining switched their places back, so the #5 prevailed.
Peugeot suffered a disastrous race, with a number of technical issues consigning both 9X8 LMH cars behind the wall for prolonged periods. The #94 entry encountered a gear-shifting issue at the very start of the race, with further high-voltage energy store issues later on putting the car shared by Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes and Nico Muller in the garage for several hours.
The #93 sister car also had a troubled run, with an incident between Mikkel Jensen and the Vanwall Vandervell 680 of Esteban Guerrieri compounding the misery of the French marque. Jensen was caught out when Guerrieri slowed down in response to a FCY period at the end of hour 3, spinning as a result.
The sole Vanwall picked up a puncture in the process and had to pit immediately, but its hitherto untroubled run was spoiled when Jacques Villeneuve suffered a wild spin at Sunset Corner due to a suspension failure, and the former Formula 1 world champion was forced to crab back to the pits. But, after repairs, the Vanwall recovered to beat the factory-run Peugeots.
The sole Glickenhaus retired from the race after Romain Dumas stopped on track at Turn 17 in the second hour with an electrical issue.
#48 Hertz Team Jota Oreca 07 - Gibson: David Beckmann, Yifei Ye, William Stevens
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Bizarre United Autosports TV camera issue hands LMP2 win to Jota
Oliver Jarvis led the early part of the race after qualifying the #23 United Autosports car on pole position, with Joshua Pierson carrying on his team-mate’s good work after being put in the driver's seat at the end of the second hour.
But Pierson’s ORECA-Gibson 07 suddenly crawled to a halt in the fourth hour, ending the #23 crew’s hopes of repeating their Sebring victory from 12 months ago. United reported that the electric failure was “caused by an in-car TV camera fixture”.
That handed the class lead to the #48 Jota of David Beckmann, Will Stevens and Yifei Ye, which is the car that the team is running while it waits for its customer Porsche 963 LMDh to be delivered - and duly isn’t registered for points in LMP2.
But the #48 was off-strategy to the #63 Prema car of Doriane Pin, Mirko Bortolotti and Daniil Kvyat, and looked to have given up victory with just over 10 minutes remaining as it needed to pit for fuel. But the Prema car also had to stop a few laps later, so Jota retook the position and the win with just three minutes remaining.
#33 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R: Ben Keating, Nicolas Varrone, Nicky Catsburg
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Corvette wins GTE Am after Iron Dames drama
Corvette scored victory on home turf in GTE Am, with Ben Keating, Nicky Catsburg and Nicolas Varrone enjoying a flawless race in their #33 C8.R.
The Corvette was handed the lead when the #85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 of Rahel Frey went wide over the kerbs at the exit of Turn 1, with the impact breaking apart the car's entire rear bodywork that needed replacing. That undid all the great work done by Sarah Bovy across the opening stints, which included a brilliantly-timed pitstop before an FCY that gave the car its considerable lead.
Dempsey-Proton’s Porsche finished a lap down in second, ahead of Kessel Racing’s #57 Ferrari, which needed a late stop for fuel which gave away the runner-up spot.
There was a major crash for Richard Mille driver Luis Perez Companc in the opening hour of the race, with the Argentine’s #83 Ferrari rolling upside down after going wide at Turn 1 and smashing into the barriers.
WEC Sebring 1000 miles - Race results
|1||7||Jose Maria Lopez||Toyota GR010 - Hybrid||HYPERCAR||239||-|
|2||8||Ryo Hirakawa||Toyota GR010 - Hybrid||HYPERCAR||239||2.168|
|3||50||Nicklas Nielsen||Ferrari 499P||HYPERCAR||237||2 laps|
|4||2||Richard Westbrook||Cadillac V-Series.R||HYPERCAR||237||2 laps|
|5||5||Frédéric Makowiecki||Porsche 963||HYPERCAR||235||4 laps|
|6||6||Laurens Vanthoor||Porsche 963||HYPERCAR||235||4 laps|
|7||48||Will Stevens||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|8||22||Filipe Albuquerque||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|9||63||Daniil Kvyat||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|10||34||Albert Costa||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|11||41||Louis Deletraz||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|12||28||Oliver Rasmussen||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|13||31||Robin Frijns||Oreca 07||LMP2||230||9 laps|
|14||9||Andrea Caldarelli||Oreca 07||LMP2||229||10 laps|
|15||51||Antonio Giovinazzi||Ferrari 499P||HYPERCAR||228||11 laps|
|16||36||Charles Milesi||Oreca 07||LMP2||228||11 laps|
|17||33||Nick Catsburg||Chevrolet Corvette C8.R||LMGTE AM||221||18 laps|
|18||77||Julien Andlauer||Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||219||20 laps|
|19||57||Daniel Serra||Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||219||20 laps|
|20||21||Ulysse De||Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||219||20 laps|
|21||54||Davide Rigon||Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||219||20 laps|
|22||60||Alessio Picariello||Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||219||20 laps|
|23||86||Benjamin Barker||Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||218||21 laps|
|24||85||Rahel Frey||Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||218||21 laps|
|25||10||Gabriel Aubry||Oreca 07||LMP2||218||21 laps|
|26||25||Charles Eastwood||Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||217||22 laps|
|27||777||Tomonobu Fujii||Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||217||22 laps|
|28||98||Nicki Thiim||Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||216||23 laps|
|29||56||Matteo Cairoli||Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||215||24 laps|
|30||4||Jacques Villeneuve||Vanwall Vandervell 680||HYPERCAR||215||24 laps|
|31||93||Jean-Eric Vergne||Peugeot 9X8||HYPERCAR||213||26 laps|
|32||94||Nico Müller||Peugeot 9X8||HYPERCAR||141||98 laps|
|33||35||Olli Caldwell||Oreca 07||LMP2||139||100 laps|
|34||23||Oliver Jarvis||Oreca 07||LMP2||91||148 laps|
|35||708||Olivier Pla||Glickenhaus 007||HYPERCAR||62||177 laps|
|36||83||Alessio Rovera||Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||4||235 laps|
|View full results|