Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: Alpine, Ferrari, WEC
The first pole position of the 2022 WEC season is claimed by Nicolas Lapierre in the Alpine A480 with a time of 1.47.407. Alongside him on first row is the Glickenhaus 007 of Olivier Pla. Porsche locked out the front row in GT Pro, as did Aston Martin in GT Am, Nicklas Nielsen put the Pro/Am AF Corse Oreca 07 on overall LMP2 pole, even ahead of the LMH Toyota's, on p3. Race start is scheduled today (Friday) at 4 PM GMT.
Remarkable was not only the fact that the Toyota's were not on pole, but also by the gap they missed out: Hartley in the #8 was over 1.8s behind on Lapierre and even found the AF Corse LMP2 Oreca of Nicklas Nielsen ahead of him, while Lopez in the #7 was well over 2 seconds slower and also had to allow both United Autosports cars ahead of him. A result no doubt of the BoP at Sebring, where Toyota's hybrid (and 4wd) systems are not allowed to kick in under 190km/h (118 mp/h).
This does not alter the fact that Alpine seems to be in good shape anyway: Lapierre leaves his other class-rival, the #708 Glickenhaus, 1.334s in the dust. In Toyota's and Glickenhaus' defence, it must be said that they were robbed of a final last hotlap by a late red flag, that ended the session prematurely.
In GT the differences are a bit tighter: Michael Christensen in the #92 was only 0.15s ahead of teammate Bruni, Tandy in the #64 Corvette had to give in 0.463s. The Ferrari's seem to struggle with top speed in Florida, as Calado (#51) and Fuoco (#52) were over two seconds off the pace.
Ben Keating secured pole in GT Am in his home race, being the only AM car lapping quicker than 2.00m, beating the GT Pro Ferrari's in the process. His nearest rival is the #98 Aston, which was 1.4s off the Texan.