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Sebring Sunday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Sunday notebook from the FIA WEC pre-season test at Sebring…

Photo: MPS Agency

***The No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid completed 301 laps, making it the most productive Hypercar of the weekend. The No. 7 Toyota racked up 286 laps, with the two Japanese cars holding comfortable margins to the 226 laps completed by the No. 5 Porsche 963.

***As a result of missing the Sunday afternoon session, the No. 51 Ferrari 499P completed the least number of laps at 114. Three other cars failed to break the 200-lap threshold: the No. 93 Peugeot 9X8 (139), the No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo (160) and the No. 4 Vanwall (147).

***None of the cars in the other categories matched the No. 8 Toyota’s tally, although the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson came close with 294. The No. 60 Iron Lynx Porsche 911 RSR-19 topped GTE-Am with 268 laps.

***Peugeot wouldn’t specify what the mechanical issue was that caused its No. 93 car to miss the final session. A team spokesperson said that the team solved the issue and intended to go out for the final 20 minutes, but its plan was thwarted by a red flag.

***Dallara representatives were seen working on the No. 51 Ferrari 499P in the garage after its accident on Sunday morning, confirming a long-held understanding that the Italian constructor is involved in the LMH project.

***Ferrari deconstructed its No. 51 car after the crash, which initially fed speculation that the AF Corse team might have been preparing to replace the chassis. However, Ferrari’s testing manager for GT and sports racing cars Gianluca Salvi confirmed the chassis is not being changed. “The front right corner was smashed, and that’s all,” he told Sportscar365. “Internally, the electrical parts were safe.”

***Jacques Villeneuve and AF Corse GTE-Am driver Luis Perez Companc came together in the morning session. Villeneuve’s No. 4 Vanwall Vandervell 680, which was on the second lap of a full stint, incurred left-side damage after the side-on contact with the Ferrari on the run down to Turn 10. Floyd Vanwall Racing Team replaced the “front-left corner, suspension and some bodywork” according to its head of operations Boris Bermes.

***Villeneuve came into the Prologue with only a single test session and just 20 laps behind the wheel of the Vanwall. He added 29 laps across the two Prologue days, with his track time limited by the Sunday morning setback and red flags in the afternoon.

***James Allen is in the WEC paddock as a guest of the Proton Competition team with which he won the LMP2 class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Proton is focusing on the WEC during the Sebring double-header.

***In the first race under a ban on tire warmers, the WEC has instructed teams to store their tires in a three-meter-wide zone at the back of their pit lane areas. An official bulletin states that tires “must be visible to officials and in the open air at all times.”

***Both Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi were in attendance this weekend to monitor their teams’ Hypercar class debuts.

***CGR driver Richard Westbrook is set to roll out with a second beer for his Westbrooks Brewery. The Englishman debuted “Laguna”, a low-carb pale ale that has seen significant sales within the UK. Sportscar365 understands that the new beer will be a low-carb pilsner, with a name featuring a famous racetrack.

***Paddock rumors have indicated that Chip Ganassi Racing could field a second Cadillac V-Series.R in the 6 Hours of Spa as a warmup to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. GM sports car program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser told Sportscar365 that it would be “speculation” until the entry list for the Belgian round is released.

***Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais would need a new third driver for Spa, should the prospective entry be accepted, as Scott Dixon will be on NTT IndyCar Series duty at Barber Motorsports Park that weekend.

***The No. 2 Cadillac ran with a chrome roof for the first time in the final test session, in an effort to evaluate improved driver comfort. Ambient temperatures reached 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) on Sunday.

***The two JOTA Oreca 07 Gibsons set identical lap times at the Prologue. Yifei Ye and Pietro Fittipaldi each posted a 1:51.000 in the Sunday morning session.

***NorthWest AMR’s prospective Silver-rated drivers Axcil Jefferies and Thomas Merrill were closely matched in terms of their quickest lap times. Jefferies narrowly went faster in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE by a margin of 0.028 seconds.

***Kessel Racing’s Ferrari 488 GTE Evo returned in the afternoon after Takeshi Kimura crashed in the morning. The Japanese Bronze-rated driver went off on his own at Turn 17 after hitting understeer at the tricky right-hander during a qualifying simulation.

***Romain Dumas believes Sebring could be Glickenhaus’ toughest circuit this season. “Some tracks will fit our car better, that’s clear,” he told Sportscar365. “For sure I think Sebring will be the hardest place for us during the season. But at the end of the day it’s a long championship, we are lucky to be here, happy to be here and now we have to race and see what we can do.”

***Porsche Penske Motorsport managing director Jonathan Diuguid stated neither of the team’s LMDh cars executed low-fuel runs at the Prologue. “All of our preparation this weekend has been race preparation and race processes,” Diuguid said.

***Toyota also didn’t do a low-fuel qualifying simulation, according to the Japanese manufacturer’s technical director Pascal Vasselon.

***Michael Christensen clocked Porsche’s fastest lap of the weekend on Sunday morning, reeling off a 1:48.957 aboard the No. 5 car.

***Diuguid added that Porsche encountered several minor problems, including a steering pump issue on the No. 6 car, but stated that there were no major reliability concerns. “We had a few small issues that we had to repair throughout the days,” he said. “The cars came back to the garage, but it was issues we could address quite quickly with no major problems.”

***Porsche purposely started its LMDh cars around an hour late on Sunday, to give the crew some rest time, according to Diuguid. “To be honest we’ve had a few late nights so it was just trying to make sure the people on the team got a little bit of sleep,” he explained. “Today we got quite lucky because the session started 20 minutes late.”

***Alex Lynn said that Chip Ganassi Racing “need to try and match Toyota” after the Cadillac team ended the Prologue second overall in terms of manufacturers. “I think we need to just work on procedures as a team to be more drilled and to keep honing the last little bits. Every detail matters so much. I think we’re already at a really good level, but you want to go and try and fight Toyota, you best turn up really ready.”

***Gustavo Menezes described his off-track moment that caused a red flag on Sunday afternoon: “We were finishing a race stint simulation and I hit a bump, locked up the tires and had a very slow kiss of the tire wall. I just needed a bit of help getting out. I was happy to see the car on track as fast as possible, and we keep learning.”

***Menezes added that Peugeot used the Prologue to gather more data on cold-starting tires. “Without the tire blankets, things are very different on tire life from start to finish,” he said. “We’re just trying to learn and figure it out for next weekend.”

***With the Prologue in the books, teams will now get to work preparing their cars for the opening Free Practice session of the week on Wednesday at 10:55 a.m. EST.

Davey Euwema and John Dagys contributed to this report

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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