Updated: May 3
SEBRING, Fla. - This year’s 1000 Miles of Sebring finished in an almost poetic fashion as both Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 HYBRID cars finished a dazzling first and second-place, only 2.1 seconds away from each other.
Coming home in first-place, the No. 7 GR010 HYBRID driven by Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi took the win, followed closely by the sister car, the No. 8 GR010 HYBRID, with drivers Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi, and Ryo Hirakawa. Amazingly, both of the cars never traveled too far from each other on the track throughout the eight-hour event.
“A 1-2 was the best result we could hope for, but this is just the start of a big fight this season,” Kobayashi said. “We deserved to win but we do not under-estimate the other manufacturers; today our experience helped us but we will face a big challenge this season, so we have to get stronger and fight even harder.”
The third-place finisher was AF Corse’s No. 50 Ferrari 499P. Drivers Antonio Fuoco, Nicklas Nielsen and Miguel Molina took the final spot on the overall podium in the Prancing Horse’s debut race in the Le Mans Hypercar class, with the sister car No. 51 finishing seventh in class.
No doubt, there is still more left in the tank for Ferrari to show throughout the 2023 season with a podium finish on debut, and AF Corse will make the necessary adjustments to the car and their strategy to try and pull out the overall win next time. This is surely a car to watch in the future.
Both Toyota and Ferrari placed well, but the others in the Hypercar class cannot be forgotten. There were some fantastic battles between Porsche and Cadillac as well, with edge-of-your-seat duels for the podium happening throughout the event. Ultimately, the No. 2 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R finished in fourth-place, and the No. 6 Porsche 963 ended up in fifth.
Disappointingly, both of Peugeot’s 9X8s Hypercars suffered major mechanical issues before the race even began, and plagued the French manufacturer throughout the day, with the No. 93 car finishing 31st, and the No. 94 car finishing 32nd overall respectively.
The No. 48 Hertz Team JOTA Oreca 07-Gibson won a thrilling fuel mileage finish in LMP2 as PREMA’s Mirko Bortolotti was forced to pit in the closing minutes, allowing the No. 48 car to capture the checkered flag.
While the team is waiting for its Porsche 963 to arrive ahead of the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, in a big step up to the Hypercar class, drivers Will Stevens, David Beckmann and Yifei Ye will surely enjoy this sweet Sebring class victory in the meantime.
In a dominant performance, the No. 33 Corvette Racing C8.R of Nico Varrone, Ben Keating and Nicky Catsburg claimed class honors in LMGTE Am. The Corvette controlled the lead for the majority of the race after the No. 85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR got off course into the grass and damaged the car, in a costly mistake with Rahel Frey behind the wheel.
After competing in the now obsolete LMGTE Pro class, Corvette Racing’s only season in LMGTE Am is off to a strong start as the series will leave the LMGTE formula behind in 2024 for GT3 cars.
Round 2 of the 2023 FIA WEC season will take place on April 16, 2023, in Portimão, Portugal for the 6 Hours of Portimao.