Super Sebring weekend is underway and Toyota has so far reasserted its dominance in Hypercar. The Japanese manufacturer topped the time sheets in both 90-minute Sebring free practice sessions on Thursday.
Joined by a wealth of Hypercar competitors for 2023, the Toyota GR010 Hybrid showed that it remains the car to beat as the first round of the FIA WEC season got underway. The #8 machine of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa edged the #51 (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovanazzi) and #50 (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen) Ferraris in FP1. In FP2, it was the #7 Toyota (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopéz) who took the honours, ahead of the #8 and the #50 Ferrari.
The rest of the Hypercar pack made a cautious start to the Sebring race weekend, with significant differences in performance. With two cars making their competitive debuts (Vanwall Vandervell 680 and Ferrari 499P) and two others with only one race under their belt (Porsche 963 and Cadillac V-Series.R), the slow start will come as no surprise.
Peugeot have struggled to make an impression on timing and scoring so far, managing just 8th and 9th fastest in FP1 and performing no better in FP2. The same applies to Floyd Vanwall Racing Team, which was the slowest of all Hypercars in both sessions.
First retirement already confirmed
In the GTE category, one car was forced to retire from the race weekend without turning a wheel in earnest. The #88 Proton Competition Porsche was involved in an incident with the #2 Cadillac and made heavy contact with the guard rail at T7.
The car suffered significant chassis damage, and the Porsche won’t be able to be repaired in time for Friday’s race.
If the timing sheets in GTE are anything to go by, 2023 is set to be yet another season of close racing in the category. The aggregate times of the top 12 entries are separated by just a couple of tenths around the 1:59 mark.
None of the four manufacturers represented in the class appear to have a clear advantage at Sebring International Raceway. The #85 Iron Dames Porsche was fastest in FP1, while the #57 Kessel Racing Ferrari went quickest in FP2.
LMP2 class evenly matched
It has been a similar story in LMP2 so far, with the entire field of Oreca 07 chassis separated by not much at all. In FP1, P1 to P8 all posted times in the 1:50s, so strategy and timing will certainly be key in Friday’s race.
Fastest in FP1 was the #63 Prema car of Pin/Bortolotti/Kvyat, while the #28 Jota machine (Heinemeier-Hansson/Fittipladi/Rasmussen) led the field in FP2.
Bilder © 2023 FIA WEC / FocusPackMedia – Tim Hearn (Pressematerial)