Toyota continue to lead the way in the Sebring 1000 Miles going into the second half of the World Endurance Championship’s season-opening race.
The two GR010 Hybrids were split by half a second after a quarter of the race had passed, and now there is 4.7 seconds between the leading number seven car of Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi and the chasing number eight crew of Ryo Hirakawa, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.
The number eight led after 67 laps, the quarter-distance point, and had less than a second in hand over the sister car until lap 92. The lead then grew significantly for Hartley, who was at the wheel during that stint, and Toyota responded to the drop in pace for the second-placed car by pitting it a few laps later.
Hartley went for the overcut, but when lap 97 was put under Full Course Yellow conditions he had to dive in during the countdown to the FCY period’s stats as stops are not allowed in the first three laps of such periods. The pit lane entry light was already red at that point, but Toyota avoided a penalty by only performing a quick refuelling stop and then completing the rest of the service two laps later once the FCY was over.
That did not cost Hartley the lead, as doing the first stop under FCY conditions meant the cars still on track were racing at lower speeds than usual, and when he completed the second part of his stop he was 3.25s up on Kobayashi.
A lap down, the pole-winning number 50 Ferrari driven by Miguel Molina took third place from the Team Penske-run number six Porsche driven by Kevin Estre with a pass at the restart. The gap between the top two fluctuated, while Estre kept within half a second of the Ferrari until it began to suffer from rear tyre degradation and he started to hassle Molina as they lapped cars from the lower classes before finally finding a way past following several laps of battling with an impressive move at turn 16.
Estre was already 2.3s clear just one lap after making the move, with that gap growing and growing while Cadillac’s Earl Bamber started to close in on the struggling Molina.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
Ferrari pitted Molina to hand over to Nicklas Nielsen before Bamber could get too close, and at the same time there was a change of position on the top step of the podium as Kobayashi took the lead of the race.
Nielsen showed the Ferrari 499P’s pace once on fresh tyres as he passed Andre Lotterer in the number six Porsche, but the sister…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at RaceFans…