Toyota move a lap ahead of Ferrari at halfway mark of Sebring 1000 Miles

World Endurance Championship

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Toyota continue to lead the way in the Sebring 1000 Miles going into the second half of the World Endurance Championship’s season-opening race.

The two GR010 Hybrids were split by half a second after a quarter of the race had passed, and now there is 4.7 seconds between the leading number seven car of Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi and the chasing number eight crew of Ryo Hirakawa, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.

The number eight led after 67 laps, the quarter-distance point, and had less than a second in hand over the sister car until lap 92. The lead then grew significantly for Hartley, who was at the wheel during that stint, and Toyota responded to the drop in pace for the second-placed car by pitting it a few laps later.

Hartley went for the overcut, but when lap 97 was put under Full Course Yellow conditions he had to dive in during the countdown to the FCY period’s stats as stops are not allowed in the first three laps of such periods. The pit lane entry light was already red at that point, but Toyota avoided a penalty by only performing a quick refuelling stop and then completing the rest of the service two laps later once the FCY was over.

That did not cost Hartley the lead, as doing the first stop under FCY conditions meant the cars still on track were racing at lower speeds than usual, and when he completed the second part of his stop he was 3.25s up on Kobayashi.

A lap down, the pole-winning number 50 Ferrari driven by Miguel Molina took third place from the Team Penske-run number six Porsche driven by Kevin Estre with a pass at the restart. The gap between the top two fluctuated, while Estre kept within half a second of the Ferrari until it began to suffer from rear tyre degradation and he started to hassle Molina as they lapped cars from the lower classes before finally finding a way past following several laps of battling with an impressive move at turn 16.

Estre was already 2.3s clear just one lap after making the move, with that gap growing and growing while Cadillac’s Earl Bamber started to close in on the struggling Molina.

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Ferrari pitted Molina to hand over to Nicklas Nielsen before Bamber could get too close, and at the same time there was a change of position on the top step of the podium as Kobayashi took the lead of the race.

Nielsen showed the Ferrari 499P’s pace once on fresh tyres as he passed Andre Lotterer in the number six Porsche, but the sister Ferrari continued with the degradation struggles. After a costly off Nielsen pitted and left Bamber with a big gap in third place.

When Bamber eventually pitted it was Nielsen who then moved into third, but the car was a lap down and so Nielsen did not benefit when the leading Toyota also pitted.

Ryo Hirakawa took over the number eight Toyota and emerged 3.5s behind team mate Jose Maria Lopez. On colder tyres he could not sustain the pace, and Hirakawa later complained of traction trouble as he watched the other Toyota pull away. Nielsen also drew away from Lotterer as the race reached its halfway point, and Antonio Giovinazzi took on driving duties in the number 51 Ferrari in fifth.

Far further back in the overall classification was Jacques Villeneuve in the sole Vanwall hypercar. He found it difficult to lap cars from lower classes once he got in the ByKolles-run machine, and consistently lost time to the other hypercars in the field.

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17Hypercar (Hybrid)ToyotaToyota GR010 HybridMike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez
28Hypercar (Hybrid)ToyotaToyota GR010 HybridSébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa
350Hypercar (Hybrid)Ferrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAntonio Fuoco/Miguel Molina/Nicklas Nielsen
46Hypercar (Hybrid)Porsche PenskePorsche 963Kévin Estre/André Lotterer/Laurens Vanthoor
551Hypercar (Hybrid)Ferrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAlessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi
62Hypercar (Hybrid)CadillacCadillac V-Series.REarl Bamber/Alex Lynn/Richard Westbrook
75Hypercar (Hybrid)Porsche PenskePorsche 963Dane Cameron/Michael Christensen/Frédéric Makowiecki
848LMP2JotaOreca 07 – GibsonDavid Beckmann/Yifei Ye/William Stevens
963LMP2PremaOreca 07 – GibsonDoriane Pin/Mirko Bortolotti/Daniil Kvyat
104Hypercar (Hybrid)Floyd VanwallVanwall Vandervell 680Tom Dillmann/Esteban Guerrieri/Jacques Villeneuve
1141LMP2Team WRTOreca 07 – GibsonRui Andrade/Robert Kubica/Louis Delétraz
1222LMP2United AutosportsOreca 07 – GibsonFrederick Lubin/Philip Hanson/Filipe Albuquerque
1331LMP2Team WRTOreca 07 – GibsonSean Gelael/Ferdinand Habsburg/Robin Frijns
1434LMP2Inter EuropolOreca 07 – GibsonJakub Smiechowski/Fabio Scherer/Albert Costa
1535LMP2AlpineOreca 07 – GibsonAndré Negrão/Memo Rojas/Oliver Caldwell
1628LMP2JotaOreca 07 – GibsonDavid Heinemeier Hansson/Pietro Fittipaldi/Oliver Rasmussen
179LMP2PremaOreca 07 – GibsonFilip Ugran/Bent Viscaal/Andrea Caldarelli
1836LMP2AlpineOreca 07 – GibsonMatthieu Vaxiviere/Julien Canal/Charles Milesi
1933LMGTE AmCorvetteChevrolet Corvette C8.RBen Keating/Nicolas Varrone/Nicky Catsburg
2086LMGTE AmGRPorsche 911 RSR 19Michael Wainwright/Riccardo Pera/Benjamin Barker
2177LMGTE AmDempsey-ProtonPorsche 911 RSR 19Christian Ried/Mikkel Pedersen/Julien Andlauer
2221LMGTE AmAF CorseFerrari 488 GTE EVOStefano Costantini/Simon Mann/Ulysse de Pauw
2354LMGTE AmAF CorseFerrari 488 GTE EVOThomas Flohr/Francesco Castellacci/Davide Rigon
2457LMGTE AmKesselFerrari 488 GTE EVOTakeshi Kimura/Scott Huffaker/Daniel Serra
2560LMGTE AmIron LynxPorsche 911 RSR 19Claudio Schiavoni/Matteo Cressoni/Alessio Picariello
26777LMGTE AmD’StationAston Martin Vantage AMRSatoshi Hoshino/Casper Stevenson/Tomonobu Fujii
2785LMGTE AmIron DamesPorsche 911 RSR 19Sarah Bovy/Michelle Gatting/Rahel Frey
2825LMGTE AmORT by TFAston Martin Vantage AMRAhmad Al Harthy/Michael Dinan/Charlie Eastwood
2956LMGTE AmProject 1 AOPorsche 911 RSR 19PJ Hyett/Gunnar Jeannette/Matteo Cairoli
3098LMGTE AmNorthwest AMRAston Martin Vantage AMRPaul Dalla Lana/Nicki Thiim/Axcil Jeffries
3193Hypercar (Hybrid)PeugeotPeugeot 9X8Paul Di Resta/Mikkel Jensen/Jean-Éric Vergne
3210LMP2Vector SportOreca 07 – GibsonRyan Cullen/Matthias Kaiser/Gabriel Aubry
3323LMP2United AutosportsOreca 07 – GibsonJoshua Pierson/Tom Blomqvist/Oliver Jarvis
34708Hypercar (Hybrid)GlickenhausGlickenhaus 007Romain Dumas/Ryan Briscoe/Olivier Pla
3594Hypercar (Hybrid)PeugeotPeugeot 9X8Loic Duval/Gustavo Menezes/Nico Müller
3683LMGTE AmAF CorseFerrari 488 GTE EVOLuis Perez Companc/Lilou Wadoux/Alessio Rovera

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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5 comments on “Toyota move a lap ahead of Ferrari at halfway mark of Sebring 1000 Miles”

  1. The Toyotas are good. I agree with the Eurosport commentators, they’re also the most professional outfit, so you have to be perfect in your reliability, strategy, pit work, and luck to challenge them.

    1. They have tons of experience running this car, and very similar cars beforehand. Even with BoP in play it’ll take a solid effort to compete with them, and that’s asking a bit much from the other teams with what are essentially not just new cars but sometimes new or much larger teams as well. It’ll take a while for the rest to catch up, but it’s already a big plus that most of them seem to be quite reliable.

  2. What’s up with the Pugs?
    Just watched on the Ferrari livestream a Ferrari lap one extremely easily. They look really slow…

    1. The Peugeots handle the poor surface at Sebring rather badly, perhaps a quirk of their no-wing design.

      It’s also not the most solid car, and they’re still having frequent reliability issues.

  3. if anyone is interested, Ferrari is live streaming onboard the #50 and #51 499P Hypercars respectively as of right now

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