Ford Steal Aston Martin’s Thunder in Final WEC Sebring Practice

by Alice Holloway
Ford stole Aston Martin's thunder by claiming the final fastest practice lap time of the 1,000 Miles of Sebring

Aston Martin Racing could get no closer than just under two seconds off the fastest lap time in LM GTE Pro, set by Andy Prialux in the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, as the final FIA World Endurance Championship 1,000 Miles of Sebring practice session came to an end.

Aston Martin led both the practice sessions yesterday in a tight battle with Ford for the top spot. The British team were happy with their one lap pace yesterday, but noted that their race pace needed some work, so there is a chance that this focus could have seen them off the pace compared to their competitors. The two Aston Martins finished bottom of the Pro timing sheet, mixed in with some of the Am cars.

Toyota Gazoo Racing completed a clean sweep of practice one-twos, looking in a strong position for qualifying and the race, as has become normal in LMP1. Jose Maria Lopez took the privilege of claiming the fastest lap time in the #7, ahead of the sister car. If the #7 beats the #8 in tomorrow’s race, the Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Lopez-piloted car would take the lead in the WEC Drivers’ Championship.

Notably, today was a much better day for the LMP1 DragonSpeed, which claimed a competitive third place in class at the end of the session. Although the privateers are still around two-seconds off the pace of the hybrid-Toyotas, the DragonSpeed team were able to hold their own against Rebellion Racing, clocking in a time four tenths fastest than the #1 Rebellion. This looks like great progress from the team, who finished both of yesterday’s practice sessions last.

Jackie Chan DC Racing were at the top of LMP2 again, this time with the #37 in the hands of Will Stevens. The session started with a strong performance from Nyck de Viers in the #29 Racing Team Nederland. He held onto the fastest LMP2 lap of the session at the start of the 60-minutes, but was demoted to third by Stevens and the #36 Signatech Alpine, which kept up its second-place-in-class showing.

Priaulx led the Porsche GT Team duo across the line for the top three spots in LM GTE Pro, with AF Corse, Corvette Racing and BMW Team MTEK fighting for the mid field positions.

The AM cars turned up the heat on the Pros as their fastest lap times began matching. The fastest lap time set by an Am car, Matt Campbell in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing, was fast enough to place the car fifth in the Pro standings. It was a Porsche lock out as the #88 Dempsey-Proton and the recovered Project 1 completed the top three.

There was one Full Course Yellow during the final 60-minutes of practice, courtesy of Paul Dalla Lana. Dalla Lana went off at T17 for a big impact into the tyre barrier, and suffered suspected steering and suspension damage to his #98 Aston Martin LM GTE Am car. Dalla Lana managed to get the car back to the pits, where it remained for the final 30-minutes of the session, and the Full Course Yellow came out for barrier repairs.

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