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Toyota Leads Hour 1 After Ferrari Pits Under Safety Car

Toyotas draw clear at head of Hypercar after Ferrari pits off-sequence under safety car…

Photo: Jamey Price/Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Sebastien Buemi led the opening hour of the 1000 Miles of Sebring after the pole-sitting Ferrari 499P pitted under a safety car period for a crash.

Buemi moved to the head of the Hypercar field at the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener when Ferrari AF Corse elected to bring Antonio Fuoco in for an early planned service.

The safety car period, which lasted almost 25 minutes, was caused by a scary-looking accident for GTE-Am driver Luis Perez Companc whose Ferrari 488 GTE Evo ended up on its roof after a slide into the tire barriers at Turn 1. The Argentinian driver walked away.

While both Fuoco and his teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi pitted, the two Toyota GR010 Hybrids that initially ran second and third remained out for a one-two, and Buemi and Mike Conway gradually drew clear of Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 6 Porsche 963.

At the close of the first hour, Buemi led Conway by 1.8 seconds while Vanthoor sat 13 seconds further back.

Alex Lynn ran third in the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R after Vanthoor got past the British driver on the opening lap.

Michael Christensen was chasing Lynn aboard the No. 5 Porsche, while Fuoco overtook Paul Di Resta’s No. 93 Peugeot 9X8 into Turn 1 after 52 minutes to assume sixth as part of its alternate strategy run.

Pier Guidi was around 10 seconds further back from his teammate after encountering a delay exiting his pit box that enlarged the gap between the factory Ferraris.

The No. 94 Peugeot encountered problems before the field took the American flag to start the race, as Loic Duval brought it back to the paddock with a gear-shifting issue.

In LMP2, Oliver Jarvis led in the pole-sitting No. 23 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson with his No. 22 teammate Frederick Lubin running second.

The United cars pitted under the safety car but cycled back into the lead when Team WRT’s Orecas made green flag stops.

D’station Racing took an early lead in the GTE-Am class after the TF Sport-assisted Aston Martin squad elected not to make a safety car stop.

Behind leader Tomonobu Fujii, pole-sitter Sarah Bovy latched onto the tail of Ben Keating as the Iron Dames and Corvette Racing continued their duel from qualifying into the race.

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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