A two-day FIA WEC test prior to next weekend’s Sebring 1000 Miles got underway on Saturday with the factory-entered Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrids already showing record-breaking pace — and showing their heels to everyone else.
Factory driver and ex-IndyCar racer Mike Conway topped the times in both Saturday sessions in the No. 7 Toyota, outpacing the sister car of Fernando Alonso with a best time of 1m41.211s — 2.6 seconds faster than official lap-record holder Marcel Fassler’s 2013 Sebring 12 Hours pole-winning time of 1m 43.886s in his Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
The Toyota pair proved to be significantly faster than the quartet of non-hybrid privateer LMP1s at the test. Fastest of those was the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson, clocking a 1m44.082s in the hands of Thomas Laurent. The No. 11 SMP Racing BR01 Gibson was next up, this test marking the team debut of double WEC champion, 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours winner and 2018 Toro Rosso F1 driver Brendon Hartley.
The New Zealander is also set to race for Action Express in IMSA’s Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring, one of 11 drivers doing double duty.
The factory-entered Chip Ganassi Racing UK Ford GTs topped the GTE Pro times with team debutant and full-season Mazda Team Joest driver Jonathan Bomarito setting the fastest time of the day in the class, a 1m58.318s in the No. 67 Ford, edging out Olivier Pla in the sister No.66. Both men will do double duty next weekend, co-piloting the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT 24P DPi alongside their Ganassi Ford WEC duties.
Loic Duval set the quickest time in LMP2, his No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca’s 1m47.869s best edging out the Le Mans class-winning No. 36 Signatech Alpine, while Pedro Lamy put the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE in among the GTE Pros with a best lap of 1m59.4s.
Fully 29 of the 34-car WEC entry for next Friday’s Sebring 1000 Miles were on hand for this test, Jackie Chan DC Racing, Dragonspeed (racing this weekend at St Petersburg in the IndyCar series) and Corvette Racing (which have plenty of Sebring form already!) the only missing teams.
The test will continues with a further pair of four-hour sessions on Sunday.