The number 8 Toyota of Alonso, Nakajima and Buemi took the honours at the inaugural running of the FIA WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring, ran to the time limit of 8 hours and not the 1000 miles.
Fernando Alonso (TS050 HYBRID #8): “It is a happy day for us. We came here to this very difficult circuit and we did a lot of testing and preparation. We went into the weekend feeling confident we would have a strong race, particularly starting from pole position. From the lead of the race, we tried to manage the risk. The rain was very stressful but Kazuki did a fantastic job in difficult conditions to bring home another win at a historic venue for endurance racing.”
In second place was the number 7 Toyota, this following making contact with the TF Sport Aston Martin in hour 4 causing damage to the Toyota and loosing over a lap in the pits for repairs.
SMP Racing took third place with their number 11 car of Aleshin, Petrov and the returning Hartley. Starting the race from P5, the squad did not manage to hold on to the position getting a puncture in the rear wheel, which forced Vitaly Petrov to drive into the pits. But despite the unplanned pit stop and being far from the leaders of the race, the trio Aleshin-Petrov-Hartley of the Russian team, lap by lap were winning back the precious seconds and catching up with their rivals. As the result, the Russian car crossed the finish line third, losing only to the Toyota hybrid cars.
“It was a fantastic race,” Brendon Hartley said. “At the very beginning we had a small puncture, but we were able to return to the race and eventually climb to the podium. The track in Sebring is very difficult, there are not so many places for overtaking, and at the end of the race it started to rain. However, the whole SMP Racing team did an excellent job, perfectly spent all the pit stops, and we made no mistakes. Excellent experience for my first performance for the Russian SMP Racing team.”
In LMP2 the new team line up of Heinemeier, King and Stevens took victory in the number 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca Gibson after they dominated the class throughout the whole race. This marked Jordan King’s first ever endurance race win… in his first ever endurance race!
There was plenty of action in the highly-competitive LMGTE Pro category and the No.91 Porsche driven by Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni took the chequered flag for Porsche GT.
BMW Team MTEK took the runners-up spot with its new BMW M8 GTE model as birthday boy Alexander Sims was joined by Martin Tomczyk and Nicky Catsburg in the car. The trio were set for a milestone first win as they led for the majority of the last two hours but a final pit stop saw the Porsche GT Team edge ahead on wet tyres.
Making it three different manufacturers on the podium in the ultra-competitive GTE Pro class was the No.67 Ford Chip Ganassi entered Ford GT of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and home driver Jonathan Bomarito.
Rounding up with LMGTE Am, and the closest top 4 finishing car after the 8 hours with them separated by only 20 seconds! At the top of the pile were Ried, Andlauer and Campbell of the Dempsey-Proton team – completing their perfect weekend of Pole and Win.
Bringing home their car in third, after a massive team effort were the Team Project 1 folks – this after building up a new car in just a few days after the original car was badly damaged by a fire.
Missing from the class was the Clearwater Racing car following their crash in qualifying, “The damage to our Ferrari was substantial and unfortunately it couldn’t be repaired in time for today’s race. It’s not the ideal way to start the year but the trio of Griffin / Cressoni / Companc have shown they have the pace in hand to be a big threat at Spa and Le Mans” said Arj Pillay Kulasegaram.