Lap Record for Alonso as Toyota Lock Out the Front Row

by Alice Holloway
Fernando Alonso claimed a new lap record at Sebring on his way to helping Toyota Gazoo Racing take their sixth consecutive one-two of the season.

Toyota Gazoo Racing has taken their sixth consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship front row lock out for the 1,000 Miles of Sebring.

Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima stole the show in the #8 Toyota with an aggregated lap time average of 1:40.318 as Alonso set a Sebring International Speedway lap record with his 1:40.124.

A small off moment from Jose Maria Lopez put the #7’s chances of securing second on tomorrow’s grid in jeopardy, but the Argentinian had just enough time to sent a second flying lap. SMP Racing‘s #17 rounded off the top three, just under two seconds off the Toyota duo.

Brendon Hartley was able to split the two Rebellion Racing entries for fifth on the grid, and will start behind the #3. Despite looking strong at the beginning of the session, the DragonSpeed will start at the back of the LMP1 grid.

Keeping up their performance from final practice, the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 took LMP2 pole position ahead of the sister car. With the line-up change in the #37, the #38 is the only Jackie Chan DC Racing car with a chance of taking the class title this season, so the additional pole position point will held in their battle with Signatech Alpine. The #36 starts just behind their championship contenders, in third.

Aston Martin Racing were the team to watch throughout practice, but an unknown technical issue saw them miss out on their potential in qualifying. Maxime Martin was unable to improve on his out lap time of 2:12.190 as the car was parked in the pits. It was a shame for the team, as Alex Lynn had set the fastest time of the first drivers, putting them in a strong position for class pole.

The Aston Martin duo ended the session in the bottom two position of the Pro class, with the #97 starting right at the back of the field.

An impressive lap time from Kevin Estre saw the Porsche GT Team #92 steal GTE Pro class pole in the closing moments of the session. It had looked to be Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx‘s after the demise of the Aston Martins, but Estre’s 1:57.616 was enough to grab pole from the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 by 0.115 seconds. This also denied the Ford team a front row lock out in class, with the #66 having to settle for third.

Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 continued to show their strong form as they took their second pole position of the season. Porsche-running teams nearly locked out the top three, with class championship leaders Team Project 1 taking second, but the duo of Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana brought some joy to Aston Martin, pushing the #88 Dempsey-Proton to fourth.

The session was delayed after Luis Perez-Companc lost the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari at Turn 7. In an odd incident, the car snapped to the left on the right-hand turn as Perez-Companc broke for the corner. The car had sat third in class at the time of the incident, but as the grid resumed for the final seven minutes of the session, the Clearwater Ferrari dropped to the back of the grid.

The 1,000 Miles of Sebring starts at 16:00 local time, 20:00 in the UK.

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