Toyota continues record-breaking pace at Sebring test

Image by LAT

Toyota continues record-breaking pace at Sebring test

Le Mans/WEC

Toyota continues record-breaking pace at Sebring test


After (unofficially) setting a record-breaking lap of Sebring on the opening day of testing, Mike Conway and Toyota Gazoo Racing improved again on the second day of the pre-event FIA WEC Sebring 1000 test.

The Britain was once again the fastest on track, reeling off a 1m41.152s in the No. 7 TS050 HYBRID.

The lap came after the track action got underway late due to fog.

“When we had the test here a few weeks ago we were doing similar lap times, so we knew it was looking good to beat the lap record,” Conway said.

“To have done that is pretty cool, but we have to do it again in qualifying or the race for it to count. It’s a nice feeling to go around Sebring quicker than anyone has before. There could be even more to come during the race week; we might be able to go quicker again. The main thing this weekend was to get ourselves well prepared for race week and we have done that.”

The time topped the official record for the current track layout set by Peugeot in 2009 by 2.1 seconds. According to Toyota, with an average speed of 214.22km/h, (133.10mph) Mike’s lap was also only 0.04km/h slower than the fastest in Sebring’s 69-year history, a record set in 1986 on a previous track layout.

However, to officially break the record and achieve the feat, Toyota will have to beat the 2009 time during qualifying later this week.

During the test, Toyota completed 580 laps and ran for 2170 miles, adding to its intense preparation program ahead of its Sebring LMP1 debut.

In LMP2 it was Racing Team Nederland’s Dallara that went quickest on day two; Nyck de Vries setting the team’s best time during the morning’s running with a 1m47.086s in the Michelin-shod No. 29 P217.

TDS Racing’s ORECA came closest to bettering de Vries’ best tour later in the day. Loic Duval set a 1m47.642s, the best time of the Dunlop runners, using the new-for-2019 C compound during the afternoon session.

Porsche led the way in GTE Pro. The best time came from the No. 91 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR, with a 1m57.302s, which was a second faster than the best GTE Pro time from day one.

The class times were tight during the second day of action; the top six in Pro all ending up within a second in the Pro class, with the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari and No. 66 Ford GT ending up second and third respectively.

A Porsche was also fastest in GTE Am, where Dempsey Proton Racing’s No.88 911 RSR topped the times. Matteo Cairoli was the quickest driver with a 1m58.707s in the morning session.

Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari 488 GTE, sporting new colors to mark the retirement of Weng Sun Mok’s chrome livery, ended up fastest in the class in the afternoon. While the Singaporean outfit is running with a fresh driver line-up in the race, the team’s only ever-present driver Matt Griffin, put in its quickest lap in the latter stages of the afternoon session, a 1m59.488s.

The day was not only interrupted by fog, but also by the Project 1 Porsche suffering a major fire. Thankfully, Jörg Bergmeister escaped from the car unhurt, though the team has been left scrambling to source a new 911 RSR for race week as a result.

Racing Team Nederland’s Dallara was also in the wars; the FIA WEC social media team catching the car on camera having a moment at the final turn and spinning off into the barriers.

The next session for the WEC cars will be Free Practice 1 on Wednesday, 13 March.