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Sebring WEC Test Notebook

Sportscar365’s first notebook from ‘Super Sebring’ as WEC cars take to the track…

Photo: John Dagys

***Twenty nine of the 34 cars entered for the 1000 Miles of Sebring took to the 3.7-mile circuit for the two-day optional test. Both of the DragonSpeed entries did not take part due to the team’s NTT IndyCar Series commitments at St. Pete, while Jackie Chan DC Racing is present in the paddock but elected not to test. Corvette Racing, meanwhile, has yet to arrive.

***Ben Hanley finished 18th in his and DragonSpeed’s IndyCar debut on Sunday. The Englishman, who qualified 12th for the season-opener, was classified two laps behind race winner Josef Newgarden.

***Mike Conway’s 1:41.152 lap time, set on Sunday afternoon, not only has unofficially broken the Sebring qualifying record but the overall track record as well, held by Sebastien Bourdais in a Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP from the 2009 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Bourdais’ race lap of 1:43.274 was six-tenths quicker than Marcel Fassler, who holds the current track qualifying record of 1:43.886 in an Audi R18 e-tron quattro set in 2013.

***The No. 7 Toyota completed the most laps in the LMP1 class with 357 shared between Conway and Kamui Kobayashi (1,335 miles). The No. 8 Toyota and the No. 3 Rebellion R-13 Gibson accumulated the second and third-highest amounts of 343 and 291, respectively.

***Dunlop has introduced a new ‘C’ spec tire for its teams this week. The Sebring-specific model provides drivers with “improved feel at the rear” and “enhanced front-end controllability”. Tire manufacturers are allowed to nominate three specifications for use during the 2018-19 season, and this is the third that Dunlop has selected after its hard and soft models.

***Three cars, the two Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibsons and the TDS Racing Oreca, are running on Dunlops in the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

***Toyota has been running two drivers in each car this weekend because of commitment clashes for Jose Maria Lopez and Sebastien Buemi, who were competing in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship race in Hong Kong. They are expected to join the team at Sebring on Monday evening ahead of Wednesday’s Free Practice sessions.

***Toyota’s drivers were surprised to find a number of autographs from famous NASCAR drivers, including Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson, inside their rented motorhome in the paddock. 

***Clearwater Racing has a new livery for its Ferrari 488 GTE. The red and black Pecom scheme reflects the business interests of Luis Perez Companc, who is joining the Singaporean team for the remainder of the season along with Matteo Cressoni and full-season driver Matt Griffin.

***Companc tested the car at Paul Ricard and December ahead of his first WEC appearance since driving an AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE in the 2014 season.

***A Malaysian flag sticker was mistakenly put on the front of the Clearwater Ferrari before the team found a Singaporean flag to replace it on Sunday.

***The Balance of Performance for GTE-Pro and GTE-Am will remain unchanged from the last round of the 2018-19 season at Shanghai, due to the Chinese event being declared a wet race which doesn’t offer the necessary representative data.

***The Sebring event, which marks WEC’s return to the famed airfield circuit for the first time since 2012, has seen a number of traditional American elements retained, including a U.S.-style pit wall and the use of a green flag to start the race.

***The WEC’s dedicated pit lane, set up on the inside of Turn 16, sees teams wheel their cars into temporary garages, which resemble those used in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. It’s understood some of the tents were sourced from Europe to make up the numbers.

***The WEC reported a “significant increase” in TV exposure during the first half of the season. Spain saw the largest growth in cumulative viewers per region, which the series has attributed to Fernando Alonso’s appearances driving for Toyota in LMP1.

***Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has welcomed the inclusion of production-based hypercars into the top-level prototype regulations that are due to debut in the 2020-21 WEC season. A post on the team’s Facebook page suggested the projected Glickenhaus Le Mans racer will be an Evo version of the American manufacturer’s 003C GT car, as first reported by Sportscar365.

***John Edwards, who tested with BMW MTEK this weekend in his first official WEC outing, made a detour to St. Petersburg on Sunday evening to pick up friends from the IndyCar weekend prior to heading home to Charlotte in his Cirrus SR22 airplane.

***Edwards, who became a licensed pilot nearly five years ago, will return to Sebring on Wednesday for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend.

***In addition to IMSA regular Edwards, Acura Team Penske driver Ricky Taylor, who won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2017, worked with SMP Racing during the test in a non-driving advisory role. 

***Ticket sales for the ‘Super Sebring’ event are ahead by 70 percent compared to this time last year, with all reserved parking spaces already sold out. While official attendance numbers are not expected to be published, in excess of 200,000 spectators are expected. 

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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