The 1000 Miles of Sebring is a race that won’t be won on single-lap pace. And while qualifying gives us a good impression of who has pace and who doesn’t, data from the free practice sessions at Sebring provides a much clearer indicator of who has genuine pace over the long stints.
First of all, the pair of works Toyotas are clearly faster than the remainder of the LMP1 field – as expected. In such tight and difficult environments as Sebring International Raceway, the TS050’s hybrid boost gives the works cars a more-significant advantage that at other circuits when it comes to passing traffic.
Argentine José María López has been, somewhat surprisingly, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s star performer so far this weekend. The former World Touring Car Champion is consistently anything between two tenths and half a second faster than his teammates. He has also completed the most laps in practice, which casts his consistent pace in an even more impressive light.
All this, of course, makes López’s slight misjudgement in qualifying – going off at turn seven and having to settle for second place on the grid – all the more frustrating. That being said, López may still be the man to watch when the green flag flies for the 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday afternoon.
|Driver||Team||No.||Average lap time||Total laps|
|J. M. López||Toyota Gazoo Racing||7||1:43.712||101|
|K. Kobayashi||Toyota Gazoo Racing||7||1:43.940||48|
|K. Nakajima||Toyota Gazoo Racing||8||1:44.095||63|
|M. Conway||Toyota Gazoo Racing||7||1:44.358||62|
|S. Buemi||Toyota Gazoo Racing||8||1:44.462||100|
|F. Alonso||Toyota Gazoo Racing||8||1:45.085||44|
|T. Laurent||Rebellion Racing||3||1:45.897||55|
|G. Menezes||Rebellion Racing||3||1:46.037||54|
Eyes on the silvers
In a mixed category such as LMP2, often it is the performance of the silver-rated drivers that proves decisive over the length of an endurance race. Each driver must drive for a minimum of two hours during the race.
One of the quickest silver-rated drivers so far has been Gabriel Aubry in the pole-sitting #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca, which is also why that car is leading the LMP2 championship. However, just 0.002 seconds quicker than Aubry – having completed exactly the same number of laps – is Roberto Gonzalez in the #31 DragonSpeed machine. Starting fourth on the grid in LMP2 and with former F1 drivers Anthony Davidson and Pastor Maldonado handling driving duties alongside Gonzalez, the DragonSpeed car could be a dark horse for victory in class this weekend.
Advantage Porsche in GTE Pro
The data shows that the pair of works Porsche 911 RSRs have been the quickest on average so far this weekend, with a healthy advantage over the rest of the field of almost a full second.
However, it may be worth keeping an eye on the #67 Ford GT and the #63 Corvette Racing cars in their home race. Both have got a significant number of laps under their belt – and like Porsche also have cars in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship with which they can share data.
Despite qualifying 10th and 11th, may the Aston Martin Racing Vantages be able to show good pace in the long runs to record an unexpected result at Sebring? Time will tell!
|Team||Number||Average lap time||Total laps|
|Porsche GT Team||#92||1:59.368||101|
|Porsche GT Team||#91||1:59.913||124|
|Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK||#67||2:00.141||149|
|Aston Martin Racing||#95||2:00.334||15|
Images © WEC-Magazin (Ton Kerdijk)