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Lopez Toyota Crash Causes Fourth-Hour Red Flag at Sebring

Jose Maria Lopez walks away from huge accident for No. 7 Toyota at Sebring…

Image: FIA WEC

A heavy accident for the race-leading Toyota GR010 Hybrid driven by Jose Maria Lopez caused a red flag three and a half hours into the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

Lopez’s No. 7 Toyota dramatically overturned after running hard into the right-side tire barriers at Turn 14.

The Argentine driver walked away from the scene of the crash and Toytoa Gazoo Racing has stated that he attended the medical center with “no reported injuries”.

That impact came only a few moments after Lopez slid into the right-side barriers at the Turn 9 kink, following a touch between his car’s right-front corner and the left-front of Julien Andlauer’s Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19.

Lopez was managing a slender lead over Brendon Hartley in the No. 8 Toyota, although the two Toyotas were theoretically behind the Alpine A480 Gibson on pit strategy.

Alpine has controlled the first three and a half hours of the WEC season-opener, with Andre Negrao stepping into the grandfathered LMP1 car around 17 minutes before the red flag.

At the time of the stoppage, Negrao was 18 seconds behind Hartley but with a pit stop in hand.

Ryan Briscoe stood a lap behind the Alpine in the No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo, which has largely had a smooth run so far and remains ahead of the LMP2 leaders but has encountered some slow pit stops.

Prema Orlen Team driver Louis Deletraz held the LMP2 lead after three and a half hours, the Frenchman emerging from the most recent round of stops ahead of both United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibsons.

Josh Pierson had been in front aboard the No. 23 United car but his co-driver Paul di Resta dropped to third courtesy of a driver change, whereas Deletraz and Will Owen stayed in the Prema and No. 22 United Orecas.

Di Resta then made an overtake on Owen down the Ullman Straight to claim second position after three hours and 24 minutes. The WRTs Orecas were fourth and fifth at the red flag, ahead of the No. 38 JOTA entry and Team Penske.

Corvette Racing held the upper hand in GTE-Pro as the two Porsche entries embarked on a joint recovery from 15-second penalties due to inappropriate actions during the starting procedure.

Tommy Milner possessed a 17-second buffer over Kevin Estre in the No. 92 factory Porsche when Lopez crashed, with Gianmaria Bruni third for the No. 91 Porsche crew.

Nick Tandy took the lead at the first round of stops when he opted for a double stint while the Porsches changed tires. The gap reduced in the second hour but Tandy kept Michael Christensen at bay up to the second stops, when Porsche observed its penalties. 

The AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evos have not featured in the Pro battle, with the Italian marque’s No. 52 machine losing five minutes at its most recent pit stop due to a power steering issue.

NorthWest AMR has dominated the GTE-Am class so far courtesy of strong stints from Paul Dalla Lana and David Pittard.

After passing pole-sitter and fellow Aston Martin customer Ben Keating in the first hour, Bronze-rated Dalla Lana extended his edge over the No. 33 TF Sport Vantage GTE.

At the red flag, the Canadian was one minute and 15 seconds clear of Keating, who had Dempsey-Proton Racing’s Christian Ried for closer company.

The red flag was replaced with a safety car period just after the halfway mark in the eight-hour race. The field was released under green flag conditions with three hours and 44 minutes remaining.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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