A new lap record and pole position for Toyota yesterday evening as Fernando Alonso put in a staggering 1.40.124 at the end of the session. Alonso claimed that a 1.39 could have been possible but was not to be today. The previous qualifying record at Sebring was held by Marco Werner in the Audi R10 back in 2007 in 1.44.974. The quickest race lap so far has been set by Sebastien Bourdais in a Peugeot 908 in 2009. The Toyota TS050 Hybrid literally trashed both records, shaving off almost 4 seconds from the previous qualifying record.
The #3 Rebellion R13 of Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes was “best of the rest”, claiming third place on the grid ahead of the #17 SMP Racing of Egor Orudzhev and Stéphane Sarrazin. Orudzhev was the quickest of the non-hybrid drivers, his best time of 1.41919 also remarkable faster than the previous record of the Audi’s.
In LMP2 Jackie Chan DC Racing swept out the front row, putting the competition almost a second behind them. Stephane Richelmi continued his strong performance and clinched pole position with Ho Pin Tung in an average time of 1.47.558. The #37 Oreca of Will Stevens and David Heinemeier Hansson was 0.650 seconds behind. Nico Lapierre and Andre Negrao secured third spot on the grid with the #36 Signatech Alpine.
The GTE session was red flagged with 7 minutes and 40 seconds to go when Luis Perez-Companc went hard into the barriers at the braking zone of Turn 7. His #61 Clearwater Ferrari suddenly broke out to the left under braking, going hard into the barriers and sliding down the track. Perez-Companc got out of the car by himself, but the damage to the car seems severe so it’s unclear whether the Ferrari will be repairable to appear on the grid tomorrow morning.
With 2 minutes to go, the #63 Corvette of Andy Garcia and Jan Magnussen appeared on top of the timetable, but it eventually fell back to fifth place. Garcia however set the quickest time of all GTE drivers. Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen secured pole in the #92 Porsche, beating both Ford GT’s. The #67 of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell will start from second position (+ 0.115s), followed by the #66 of Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla.
Matt Campbell and Christian Ried secured pole position in the Am class with their #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche in a combined time of 1.59.790. Egidio Perfetti and Jorg Bergmeister made it a front row lockout for Porsche, a great result for Team Project 1 after their misfortune last Sunday. Another great recovery from the #98 Aston Martin which got fixed by the mechanics after Dalla Lana’s hefty crash at turn 17 and took third place in qualifying.
The start of the 1000 Miles of Sebring (or maximum 8 hours) will be given this afternoon at 16h local time here in Florida, which is 20h UK time and 21h in Central Europe. You will find coverage on Radio Le Mans globally and the WEC has done a great job in getting race coverage scheduled in most geographies (check local listings) as well as removing geo-blocking to its app in the United States.