WEC: Alonso, Nakajima and Buemi victorious at 1000 Miles of Sebring
The No.8 Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 TS050 HYBRID took victory in the 1000 Miles of Sebring, the sixth round of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season, in a race which ended in tricky wet conditions just before midnight, Friday 15 March.
Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima claimed a third victory of the season to extend their points lead in the World Championship title chase. The pole-sitting car led for the entire event and only a small off-track excursion for Buemi, when he attempted to overtake the ailing DragonSpeed LMP1 car, threatened to unsettle their drive to victory.
The pivotal moment of the race came in the fourth hour when José Maria Lopez made contact with the TF Sport Aston Martin driven by Jonny Adam. The resulting damage lost the No.7 Toyota Gazoo Racing car over a lap and ensured that its stablemate rivals had a clear run to the chequered flag.
Along with Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway took second position but now have a deficit of 15-points in the standings. There was drama in the final 25-minutes when a rain shower hit the circuit, sending teams running for wet tyres for the final nail-biting laps.
When Loïc Duval crashed his TDS Racing LMP2 car in the final 10-minutes of the 8-hour race it triggered a Safety Car which was withdrawn just before the chequered flag was shown.
Taking third position at Sebring was the No.11 SMP Racing crew of returning WEC former Champion Brendon Hartley, Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov. They took advantage of last hour difficulties for the No.3 Rebellion Racing car, crewed by Gustavo Menezes, Nathanaël Berthon and Thomas Laurent, to take a second consecutive podium for the Russian-entered SMP team.
Porsche extends Championship lead in LMGTE Pro
Today’s 1000 Miles of Sebring marked the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) Super Season, the event forming part of an exhilarating sportscar double-header alongside IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The varying weather conditions saw the race run to its eight hour maximum instead of the proposed 1000 miles, with rain falling heavily during the race’s closing stages.
There was plenty of action in the highly-competitive LMGTE Pro category, however, as the No.91 Porsche driven by Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni took the chequered flag for Porsche GT. The victory is the fourth of the season for Porsche but the first for Lietz this season and a debut win for Bruni with the German marque.
BMW Team MTEK took the runners-up spot with its new BMW M8 GTE model as birthday boy Alexander Sims was joined by Martin Tomczyk and Nicky Catsburg in the car. The trio were set for a milestone first win as they led for the majority of the last two hours but a final pit stop saw the Porsche GT Team edge ahead on wet tyres.
Making it three different manufacturers on the podium in the ultra-competitive GTE Pro class was the No.67 Ford Chip Ganassi entered Ford GT of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and home driver Jonathan Bomarito.
The No.51 and 71 Ferraris finished fourth and sixth respectively. Elsewhere, round five victors Aston Martin Racing had a difficult event. The No.95 car dropped down the order when Porsche made contact with Darren Turner resulting in a spin and lengthy pit stop to repair damage.
New-look No.37 Jackie Chan DC Racing squad triumph
In LMP2, the newly formed trio of David Heinemeier-Hansson, Jordan King and Will Stevens dominated the category with a conclusive win in the No.37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA Gibson.
The trio were embarking on their first race together and led from the second lap onwards. The win marked David Heinemeier-Hansson’s first ever LMP2 victory and success for Jordan King in his very first endurance race. The win meant that the Jackie Chan DC Racing squad have now taken five out of six wins in the WEC Super Season.
Signatech Alpine Matmut’s Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and André Negrão placed second and, as a result, took over the points lead in the LMP2 title race. They vault previous leaders, the No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing line-up of Ho-Pin Tung, Stéphane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry, who saw their race compromised by an early race electrical issue.
The US-entered DragonSpeed team claimed the final rung of the podium as Anthony Davidson, Pastor Maldonado and Roberto Gonzalez fought back from a third hour incident which saw the team having to replace the rear wing and bodywork section.
Dempsey-Proton Racing take second consecutive win in LMGTE Am
Sealing victory in the LMGTE Am class was the No.77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche team with Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer and Matt Campbell making it a perfect weekend after starting from pole position.
The victory is the team’s second in a row for the German-based but Patrick Dempsey owned team with the squad having also taken the chequered flag at the previous round in Shanghai.
Race long multi-manufacturer battles saw Spirit of Race Ferrari finish second with drivers Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Team Project 1 claimed third, the podium made extra special following the team’s heroic efforts to fix the car after it caught fire and destroyed the chassis last weekend. American driver Patrick Lindsey celebrated third on home soil alongside Jorg Bergmeister and Egidio Perfetti.
Gulf Racing finished fourth while MR Racing rounded out the top five.