FIA WEC

FIA WEC 1,000 Miles of Sebring: Alpine On Top of Practice Two

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#36 Alpine Elf Matmut leading the field during second practice for the 1,000 Miles of Sebring
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

A shift in the competitive order of the FIA World Endurance Championship 1,000 Miles of Sebring was seen during second practice, but Toyota Gazoo Racing had been the ones to watch until a penalty stripped them of their fastest time.

The second practice session gave teams the chance to run their cars at cooler temperatures similar to what they will be experiencing in the second half of Friday’s race. Although Toyota were on the pace, it was Alpine Elf Matmut‘s session to lead from the start. The initial pace was set by Andre Negrao in the early stages of the session. He set a 1:50.845, a time only beaten by team mate Matthieu Vaxiviere in the closing stages of the session with an improvement of three tenths.

Brendon Hartley had been second fastest, showing Toyota was back in business after their slow start in the pre-season Prologue, but a pit lane speeding infringement saw the team stripped of their fastest time. Losing three-tenths of a second, the car fell from second to fifth behind the duo of LMP2 United Autosports and the Realteam by WRT entries. Although the timing board reflects the #8 Toyota being down in fifth, the team know they were up in the fight for fastest lap against rivals Alpine, which should give them good confidence going into tomorrow.

The sister Toyota in the hands of Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi still seems to be struggling a little to find the pace of the #8 with the car finishing eighth overall, nearly a second off the leading lap time of the Alpine. Overnight the two crews will likely sit together to work out what the #8 is doing to extract additional pace over the #7.

Filipe Alberquerque led sister car driven by Paul di Resta to a United Autosports one-two, with Realteam taking third. Keeping the LMP2 fight as predicted, between United Autosports and WRT as suggested from the results of the pre-season Prologue, the sister Team WRT #31 came fifth in class, seventh overall.

Although we are looking to be in for a battle of these two teams, do not write off the Prema Powertrain who once again found itself inside the top five in class. Robert Kubica‘s 1:51.395 was enough to beat the #31 Team WRT and split them from the sister car on the timing screen.

Falling from the pace they had shown in first practice, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus struggled to find the groove in the afternoon session, only going 12th fastest overall. The 1:52.479 from Ryan Briscoe was a distant three seconds off the lap time they had set in the morning.

#98 Northwest Aston Martin Racing GTE Am on track at Sebring International Speedway
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

Once again the Porsche GT Team #92 graced the top of the timing screens in GTE, this time with Michael Christensen behind the wheel. His 1:58.448 was enough to take the top spot, but again the competition was strong and he had less than one hundredth of a second advantage at the chequered flag. This time it wasn’t a battle of the Porsche though, as Nick Tandy split the pair with the sole Corvette Racing entry. Tandy’s 1:58.580 was four tenths clear of the second Porsche, showing it might not be a straight drive to a one-two for the German outfit.

Sadly the Ferraris struggled again, still unable to set a lap time sub two minutes. The top three in Am split AF Corse‘s fastest entry of Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco from the rest of the Pro cars, whilst Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado could do no better than 28th overall, almost two seconds off the lap time set by Christensen. Ferrari’s pace is looking no better than it was this morning and it is shaping up to be a painful 1,000 Miles of Sebring for the Italian manufacturer.

WEC debutant David Pittard took the fastest Am lap of the session, fourth fastest GTE lap, in the #98 Northwest Aston Martin Racing machine. His time of 2:00.029 gave him just over a tenth advantage on Harry Tincknell in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche and three tenths on third-placed #56 Team Project 1. Porsche still seem to have the advantage in GTE, but the Corvette and Aston Martins are keeping them on their toes and increasing the pressure as the event continues, not making it easy for the Porsche-runners to claim victory.

The final practice session gets underway tomorrow 15:55 GMT ahead of the first qualifying sessions of the 2022 season.

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The Checkered Flag’s correspondent for the FIA World Endurance Championship. Working in motorsport as a hobby and as a professional, Alice is a freelance digital communications manager, video editor and graphic designer at OrbitSphere. She also runs and manages her own YouTube channel - Circuit The World - with videos on gaming, travel, motorsports and reviews.
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