Toyota Gazoo Racing, the defending Hypercar World Champions, started the 2023 season off right with a one-two finish in the 1000 Miles of Sebring today.
The No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez crossed the finish line 2.168 seconds before the No. 8 car, which was driven by Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa. With its victory in Sebring, the No. 7 marks the Japanese manufacturer's 40th WEC triumph.
The No. 50 Ferrari 499P Hypercar, driven by Antonio Fuoco, Nicklas Nielsen, and Miguel Molina, finished on the podium for the first time, adding to its historic pole position from yesterday. This was a successful start for the Prancing Horse in the inaugural Hypercar race.
However, the Ferrari 499P Hypercar faced competition in the race's latter stages from the No. 2 Cadillac Racing team, which included Richard Westbrook, Earl Bamber, and Alex Lynn.
With the new Porsche 963 Hypercar, Penske Porsche Motorsport finished fifth and sixth. The No. 5 car, driven by Frederic Makowiecki, Michael Christensen, and Dane Cameron, finished ahead of the sister No. 6 car, driven by Laurens Vanthoor, Andre Lotterer, and Kevin Estre, by 23.977 seconds.
The No.51 Ferrari AF Corse 499P took seventh overall when the Hypercar had to come to the pits for lengthy repairs following impact with the No.54 AF Corse Ferrari LMGTE Am entry with barely two hours of the race remaining..
Jacques Villeneuve, Tom Dillmann, and Esteban Guerrieri of the Floyd Vanwall Racing Team finished eighth after gathering additional data from the team's debut in the WEC's Hypercar division.
After a difficult day for the French manufacturer, Peugeot TotalEnergies placed ninth and tenth, respectively, with the No. 93 finishing ahead of the sibling No. 94 Peugeot 9X8.
After Romain Dumas was forced to stop the Glickenhaus 007 on the course due to a technical issue, the home team Glickenhaus Racing retired during the third hour of the race.
Yifei Ye, Will Stevens, and David Beckmann dominated the second part of the race, and despite a late splash and dash pit stop that briefly looked like it may endanger their triumph, the three won by a narrow margin of 2.8 seconds.
A late pit stop by Stevens, who began and completed the race in the gold Oreca-Gibson, handed the lead to Mirko Bortolotti in the No.63 Prema car.
The Italian followed suit a few laps later, dispelling any fears, and Stevens sparked raucous jubilation in the Jota pit.
Stevens won the WEC 1000 Miles LMP2 race at Sebring for the second time after doing so in 2019. Yifei Ye won the WEC for the first time in Chinese racing history, and David Beckmann won the inaugural championship. Stevens also won the first-ever Goodyear Wingfoot Trophy, which is awarded to the driver who completes a double stint at the fastest average speed.
Typical LMP2 racing was close in the opening stages of the race, with numerous leaders competing for the converted victory.
With Oliver Jarvis at the wheel, the United Autosports No. 23 car, which started from pole position, appeared to have secured a race winning strategy, but a techical issue in the fourth hour ruined all possibility of Jarvis and Pierson scoring back-to-back Sebring wins.
But still, there was still hope for United Autosports when the No. 22 car driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson, and Frederick Lubin finished a hard-earned second.
The No. 63 Prema team, consisting of Bortolotti, Doriane Pin, and Daniil Kvyat, still claimed the top spot on the podium despite the tardy pit stop. In her LMP2 debut, Pin shone, finishing a fantastic triple stint mid-race.
The No. 33 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R won the first LMGTE Am race of 2023 thanks to a strong performance from Nicolas Varrone, Ben Keating, and Nicky Catsburg.
The American team took the lead in the race's latter stages, ensuring that the current category champion Keating could start his title defence in grand manner. Varrone and Catsburg, two of his teammates, both recorded their first WEC victories.
In the third hour, damage from Rahel Frey's off-course excursion in the No. 85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR-19 eliminated Corvette's main rival. The No. 83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of Luis Perez Companc suffered a stunning flip in the first hour coming out of turn 1.
The No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR 19 driven by Mikkel Pedersen, Christian Ried, and Julien Andlauer comes in second. Andlauer was the one to take advantage of Daniel Serra's Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo's late fuel pit stop.
Andlauer, his teammates Takeshi Kimura and Scott Huffaker slid to third as a result, giving the podium in their class three different manufacturers.
The Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR 19 was in first position in the category when Rahel Frey made a rare error and raced wide at Turn 1. This caused bodywork to become loose, which dropped the pink and black car to eighth place.
Full results can be found here...
The 6 Hours of Portimao, the next FIA WEC race, is held in the Algarve region of Portugal (16 April)