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Sebring WEC: #8 Toyota crew takes first win since Le Mans

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Sebring WEC: #8 Toyota crew takes first win since Le Mans
By:
Mar 16, 2019, 4:06 AM

Toyota drivers Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi took their first FIA World Endurance Championship race win since last year's Le Mans 24 Hours with victory in the Sebring 1000 Miles.

The #8 Toyota crew was handed a clear path to victory when Jose Maria Lopez made a crucial slip-up in the sister #7 TS050 Hybrid in the fifth hour of the race.

Lopez made contact with the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin of Jonathan Adam at Turn 15, picking up floor damage that necessitated a trip to the pits that cost the #7 almost two laps.

The car shared by Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi had been right in the hunt at half-distance, with Lopez trailing Buemi by just a few seconds at the time of his incident.

Heavy rain in the final 30 minutes prompted both Toyotas to change to wet tyres, and then again to extreme wets, as a crash for Loic Duval in the #28 TDS Racing Oreca with only 12 minutes left on the clock brought out the safety car that remained out until the finish.

Despite a late spin for Nakajima, the #8 crew hung on in the treacherous conditions to score their third win of the 2018/19 superseason by a lap over the #7.

With the Sebring race offering 32 points for a win instead of the usual 25, it means Alonso, Nakajima and Buemi lead by 15 points heading into the last two rounds of the campaign.

Completing the podium was the #11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1, which recovered from an early puncture to finish best of the rest, 11 laps down on the winning Toyota.

The #3 Rebellion R-13 Gibson looked well set for the final podium place after both SMP cars hit trouble, the #17 BR1 dropping out when Egor Orudzhev crashed in the second hour.

But late gear selection issues for the #3 dropped it behind the leading LMP2 cars, giving the #11 car shared by ex-IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin and ex-Formula 1 drivers Brendon Hartley and Vitaly Petrov a spot on the podium.

The #1 Rebellion dropped out when Mathias Beche crashed while trying to lap a backmarker in hour five, while the #10 DragonSpeed BR1 was ruled out with gearbox problems.

LMP2: DC Racing newcomers victorious

Jackie Chan DC Racing trio David Heinemeier Hansson, Jordan King and Will Stevens took a dominant victory in LMP2, finishing fourth overall.

The new drivers of the #37 Oreca took control of the secondary class early on and established a big lead over their only real rival, the #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca, ultimately beating Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao by 27 seconds.

DragonSpeed drivers Anthony Davidson, Pastor Maldonado and Roberto Gonzalez recovered from an early brush with the barrier to take third in class, a lap down.

Points leaders Ho-Pin Tung, Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry ended up bottom of the order, 30 laps down on the class-winning sister car, after suffering early electrical issues.

GTE: Rain shower hands Porsche win

Porsche took an unlikely victory in the GTE Pro class as Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz took full advantage of the late rain.

BMW had looked on course for its first WEC race victory after Martin Tomczyk passed the Ford of Jonathan Bomarito to snatch the advantage in hour six, with Tomczyk's teammate Alexander Sims at one point leading by more than 10 seconds.

But that advantage was lost in the pits when the rain arrived as Porsche turned around the #91 car 10 seconds faster than BMW to change to wet tyres.

Tomczyk, Sims and Nicky Catsburg had to be content with second place, ahead of the #67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Bomarito, which had commanded much of the race.

Priaulx had led by more than 20 seconds before the first safety car period, and once the pack had been bunched up the Ford appeared to struggle for pace after the sun set.

The two AF Corse-run Ferraris sandwiched the #92 Porsche of championship leaders Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, which had to serve a stop-and-go penalty when Estre made contact with the Aston Martin of Darren Turner.

Corvette Racing's sole C7.R finished eighth ahead of the two Aston Martins, while the #66 Ford GT was 11th and last in class after an early alternator problem.

GTE Am victory went to the Dempsey-Proton Porsche trio Matt Campbell, Julien Andlauer and Christian Ried, which bested the Spirit of Race Ferrari by 12 seconds.

Project 1 Racing, racing with a spare Porsche that was hastily shipped over to Sebring following the squad's dramatic testing fire, completed the class podium in third place.

A puncture for the #98 Aston Martin that led at half-distance consigned the car to eighth.

Race results:

Pos. # Drivers Car Class Laps Time
1 8 Spain Fernando Alonso 
Japan Kazuki Nakajima 
Switzerland Sébastien Buemi 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 253 -
2 7 Japan Kamui Kobayashi 
United Kingdom Mike Conway 
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 252 1 lap
3 11 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov 
New Zealand Brendon Hartley 
Russian Federation Mikhail Aleshin 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 242 11 laps
4 37 United Kingdom Will Stevens 
Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson 
United Kingdom Jordan King 
Oreca 07 LMP2 239 14 laps
5 36 France Nicolas Lapierre 
France Pierre Thiriet 
Brazil Andre Negrao 
Alpine A470 LMP2 239 14 laps
6 31 United Kingdom Anthony Davidson 
Venezuela Pastor Maldonado 
Mexico Roberto Gonzalez 
Oreca 07 LMP2 237 16 laps
7 3 France Nathanael Berthon 
France Thomas Laurent 
United States Gustavo Menezes 
Rebellion R13 LMP1 237 16 laps
8 50 United States Gunnar Jeannette 
France Romano Ricci 
France Erwin Creed 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 234 19 laps
9 29 Netherlands Giedo van der Garde 
Netherlands Nyck de Vries 
Netherlands Frits van Eerd 
Dallara P217 LMP2 230 23 laps
10 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni 
Austria Richard Lietz 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 226 27 laps
11 81 Netherlands Nick Catsburg 
Germany Martin Tomczyk 
United Kingdom Alexander Sims 
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 226 27 laps
12 67 United Kingdom Harry Tincknell 
United States Jonathan Bomarito 
Guernsey Andy Priaulx 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 225 28 laps
13 51 United Kingdom James Calado 
Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi 
Brazil Daniel Serra 
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 225 28 laps
14 92 Denmark Michael Christensen 
France Kevin Estre 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 225 28 laps
15 71 United Kingdom Sam Bird 
Italy Davide Rigon 
Spain Miguel Molina 
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 225 28 laps
16 82 Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa 
Canada Bruno Spengler 
Brazil Augusto Farfus 
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 225 28 laps
17 63 Denmark Jan Magnussen 
Spain Antonio Garcia 
Germany Mike Rockenfeller 
Chevrolet Corvette C7R LMGTE PRO 225 28 laps
18 97 Belgium Maxime Martin 
United Kingdom Alex Lynn 
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 224 29 laps
19 95 Denmark Marco Sorensen 
Denmark Nicki Thiim 
United Kingdom Darren Turner 
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 224 29 laps
20 77 Germany Christian Ried 
Matthew Campbell 
Julien Andlauer 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 221 32 laps
21 54 Italy Giancarlo Fisichella 
Italy Francesco Castellacci 
Switzerland Thomas Flohr 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 221 32 laps
22 56 Germany Jörg Bergmeister 
United States Patrick Lindsey 
Norway Egidio Perfetti 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 221 32 laps
23 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright 
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker 
Germany Thomas Preining 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 221 32 laps
24 70 Monaco Olivier Beretta 
Italy Eddie Cheever III 
Japan Motoaki Ishikawa 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 220 33 laps
25 90 United Kingdom Jonathan Adam 
Turkey Salih Yoluc 
Ireland Charles Eastwood 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 220 33 laps
26 88 Italy Gianluca Roda 
Italy Matteo Cairoli 
Italy Giorgio Roda 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 219 34 laps
27 98 Portugal Pedro Lamy 
Canada Paul Dalla Lana 
Austria Mathias Lauda 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 219 34 laps
28 66 Germany Stefan Mücke 
France Olivier Pla 
United States Billy Johnson 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 216 37 laps
29 38 China Ho-Pin Tung 
Monaco Stéphane Richelmi 
France Gabriel Aubry 
Oreca 07 LMP2 209 44 laps
30 28 France Loic Duval 
France François Perrodo 
France Matthieu Vaxiviere 
Oreca 07 LMP2 232 21 laps
31 17 Russian Federation Sergey Sirotkin 
France Stéphane Sarrazin 
Russian Federation Egor Orudzhev 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 62 191 laps
32 10 Sweden Henrik Hedman 
Netherlands Renger van der Zande 
United Kingdom Ben Hanley 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 143 110 laps
33 1 Brazil Bruno Senna 
Switzerland Neel Jani 
Switzerland Mathias Beche 
Rebellion R13 LMP1 138 115 laps
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About this article

Series WEC
Event Sebring
Author Jamie Klein