Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kazuki Nakajima set the fastest lap during opening practice for the FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring.
Nakajima burst onto the scene late in the 90-minute session with a time of 1:41.957 in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid that unseated his teammate Jose Maria Lopez from the top of the timing charts.
Lopez posted his best effort of 1:42.506 in the sister No. 7 car and was on course to lead the weekend’s curtain-raising session before Nakajima intervened on his penultimate flyer.
Nakajima’s lead marker was slightly slower than Mike Conway’s record-breaking 1:41.211 time that the Englishman produced behind the wheel of the No. 7 during Sunday’s pre-event test.
The closest non-hybrid LMP1 car in Free Practice 1 was the No. 1 Rebellion Racing R-13 Gibson which Mathias Beche placed a second and a half off the overall pace with a time of 1:43.552.
A series of late improvements from Beche saw the Swiss driver leapfrog the No. 3 Rebellion car for third in the overall order, while SMP Racing’s pair of BR Engineering BR1 AERs lapped fifth and sixth, around two seconds off Nakajima’s benchmark.
In LMP2, FIA Formula 2 racer Nyck de Vries placed the Racing Team Nederland Dallara P217 Gibson on top of the pile, ahead of the five Oreca-based cars.
De Vries put up a half-second gap over the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson with his time of 1:47.385.
Aston Martin Racing’s Maxime Martin registered the best lap in GTE-Pro, with the Belgian’s 1:58.044 in the new-generation No. 97 Vantage GTE holding out as the best of the manufacturer entries.
Harry Tincknell came through 0.312 seconds off Martin’s pace in the No. 67 Ford GT, while the two Porsche 911 RSRs lapped third and fourth.
Aston Martin also led the way in GTE-Am, where Pedro Lamy’s 2:00.043 effort paced the field.
The session was momentarily red-flagged with half an hour to go after the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR had an innocuous off-track moment that accidentally triggered the car’s medical light.
Free Practice 2 is scheduled to get underway at 7:45 p.m. ET (11:45 p.m. GMT).
RESULTS: Free Practice 1