A new era of Hypercar racing has produced a familiar result when Toyota Gazoo Racing stormed to race victory at the 1000 Miles of Sebring today.
It was the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez which won the race, topping their sister #8 entry of Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa by 2.1 seconds.
So dominant was the performance no other car finished within two laps of them, third place getters Ferrari holding off a fierce Cadillac Racing charge in the final hours.
Both Toyotas entered the race as hot favourites despite a shock Ferrari pole in yesterday’s qualifying. It didn’t take long for that order to play out on-track, the #8 taking the lead early and holding it until after the mid-way point.
Just half a second separated the teammates heading into the final 90 minutes, traffic and a slow pit stop proving their undoing in the final stages.
The gap sat at 20 seconds before Hartley was tasked with bringing the car home. The Kiwi made up time on the race leader over the last hour, in part due to his pace but also with the #7 coasting to a comfortable victory.
“It’s an amazing result for the whole team and I am incredibly happy for everyone who has worked so hard for this,” said Hartley following the race.
“I’m also a bit disappointed for the #8 car to be second because it was such a close race, and we led for so much of it. We got a bit unlucky but congratulations to the #7 crew for the win. At the end there was only two seconds between the two cars after such a hard race which shows what a great job the team has done here.”
The battle of the rest was much tighter as Cadillac, Ferrari and Porsche battled it out. A number of Safety Cars and penalties saw this mix shaken up frequently, the #50 Ferrari 499P holding on to earn a podium in its maiden race.
Fourth place is a welcome result for Cadillac in their first foray into WEC Hypercar racing, the team narrowly missing out on a podium in a solid, consistent run.
“We were fighting for a podium and got a little bit unlucky with a full-course yellow at the end,” said Bamber, following the race. “We were sort of best of the rest, but we’re going to push on. This team did a fantastic job first time out here. Now, we will look for more at Portimão the next race.”
Both Porsche 963 dropped off the pace, the duo forced to battle amongst themselves and falling two laps off the pace of the top four. They finished fifth and sixth respectively.
The second Ferrari in the field was the seventh Hypercar home after making contact with a GTE Am entry early on. Alessandro Pier Guidi was forced to retreat to the lane for repairs, removing them from contention.
Their saving grace, however, was the misfortunes suffered by the four other Hypercar entries.
Vanwall was the eighth entry home but came into difficulty in the third hour when they were collected by the #93 Peugeot at the start of a full course yellow. A puncture followed by a suspension failure saw them require repairs, however they were still able to top the two Peugeots and sole Glickenhaus.
The #93 Peugeot recovered from their damage to finish one spot behind Vanwall but two laps in arrear. Their sister car, the #94, suffered gear-shifting issues at the start of the race and required repairs lasting several hours.
They returned to running but finished some 98 laps behind the winners.
The Hypercar field was rounded out by the sole Glickenhaus entry which failed to finish after suffering electrical issues in the second hour.
Header Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing