Toyota edges Ferrari in opening Sebring WEC practice

JEP/Motorsport Images

Toyota edges Ferrari in opening Sebring WEC practice

Le Mans/WEC

Toyota edges Ferrari in opening Sebring WEC practice


The first practice session of the FIA World Endurance Championship season saw a surprise at the top of the times. AF Corse’s No. 51 Ferrari 499P looked set to finish with the fastest time, courtesy of James Calado who managed a 1m47.935s. However, it was Ryo Hirakawa who ultimately set the benchmark time for the day when he reeled off a 1m47.649s with two minutes remaining in the session to top the timing screens in the No. 8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID.

This lap, faster than any of the times set at the Prologue test, put him ahead of the two Ferraris that finished up second and third in the times. It may not have ended up with the fastest time, but the performance from AF Corse’s 499Ps represented a significant stride in pace ahead of the car’s global race debut on Friday. The early signs of a memorable season opener are here…

The No. 51 ending up second was also particularly encouraging for the team after its hard work to change the chassis after Calado’s hefty Prologue shunt at Turn 1 on Sunday.

Just off Calado’s best time, Miguel Molina put the No. 50 into the top three with a 1m48.039s at the end of the session. This pushed the sole Cadillac Racing V-Series.R to fourth, after early times from Earl Bamber saw it sit as high as second in the times.

Toyota’s No. 7 GR010 HYBRID ended up fifth, nine-tenths off the sister car, but clear of the two Porsche 963s and the Peugeot 9X8s, which were all over a second off.

The nine Hypercars from the major factory programs all set times faster than the LMP2 runners, while the Glickenhaus and Vanwall continued to struggle for pace, ending up 16th and 20th overall respectively.

The fastest time in LMP2 came from the No. 63 Prema Racing ORECA, a 1m50.074s by Mirko Bortolotti, improving on a previous hot lap (1m50.148s), which was good enough to set the pace early in the session. WRT’s No. 31 ORECA finished up second, with the No. 9 Prema example third.

The GTE ranks saw the Iron Dames Porsche finish up with the quickest time. Michelle Gatting reeled off a 1m59.028s at the very end of the running to put the striking pink 911 RSR 19 a tenth up on the rebuilt No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari, which spent much of the practice session atop the class times.

Corvette Racing’s C8.R made it three marques in the top three, with a 1m59.101s, an improvement in the pace from the Prologue for the Pratt Miller team in its first competitive WEC session as an Am outfit.

Further down the order the Aston Martin teams were unable to find outright pace, a continuation of the Vantage AMR’s Prologue form. The best of the three was the D’Station Racing Vantage, 11th in class.

UP NEXT: FP2 is set to begin this afternoon at 4:35pm local time.