Terrific opening race in FIA WEC

The second 1000 Miles of Sebring in history, which was also the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2022, was run on the historic Sebring International Raceway.

Alpine Elf Team #36 with Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere started the race from Pole Position, ahead of Glickenhaus Racing #708 with Olivier Pla, Ryan Briscoe and Romain Dumas, while Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa would start from the third position.

Nicklas Nielsen, Francois Perrodo and Alessio Rovera had taken LMP2 Pole Position in AF Corse #83, ahead of United Autosports USA #22 with Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Will Owen, and United Autosports USA #23 with Paul di Resta, Josh Pierson and Oliver Jarvis in P3. It wasn’t just a general pole but also in LMP2 Pro/Am.

In GTE Am, TF Sport Aston Martin #33 with Ben Keating, Florian Latorre and Marco Sørensen was on Pole Position. Northwest AMR #98 with Paul Dalla Lana, Nicki Thiim and David Pittard would start second, while Team Project 1 Porsche #56 with Brendan Iribe, Ben Barnicoat and Oliver Millroy would start third.

Iron Dames Ferrari #85 with Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting started the race from P4 in GTE Am. Nicolas Leutwiler went off the track with Team Project 1 Porsche #46, which he shared with Mikkel O. Pedersen and Matteo Cairoli. Luckily, the damage wasn’t severe, but the team would have to start last.

1000 Miles of Sebring 2022
Photo: JJ Media

The start went well, where Alpine Elf Team #36 had a good start and kept the lead. United Autosports USA #22 was a bit more aggressive, taking the lead in LMP2 and second place overall.

After the cars reached the straight, the Hypercars could drive past United Autosports USA #22, and chase each other without obstacles.

Team Project 1 Porsche #46 started from the pits, one lap after everyone had gone past, as they had to break the Parc Ferme rules of repairing the car after the incident in qualifying. The team luckily had Matteo Cairoli in the car, who slowly but surely worked his way up the GTE field – but there was a lot to catch up.

Alpine Elf Team #36 built up a nice gap to Glickenhaus Racing #708 in second place, with over ten seconds.

Team WRT #31 had a short run-off in Turn 5 but quickly came back to the asphalt.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #60
Photo: JJ Media

There was contact between JOTA #38 and Ultimate #35 in Turn 1, but not enough to damage either car.

The lead in GTE Am changed when Paul Dalla Lana in Northwest AMR #98 drove past Ben Keating in TF Sport Aston Martin #33.

Nielsen in AF Corse #83 was under pressure by United Autosports #23, but the two weren’t in a direct battle for the LMP2 Pro/Am title – you had to look down to P11 to find the closest competitor in the category.

TF Sport Aston Martin #33 went off the track in Turn 16, but Keating got the car back on the asphalt quickly.

It was an Aston Martin 1-2-3 in GTE Am when D’Station Racing #777 came up to the third place.

Team Project 1 Porsche #56 had a solo spin in Turn 16, but luckily Brendan Iribe managed to keep the car from hitting the wall, even though it was close.

D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 came up to the second place GTE Am when Tomonobu Fujii overtook Keating.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7
Photo: JJ Media

Vector Sport #10 went off the track in Turn 3, but Nico Müller drove away from there by himself without causing any drama.

Alpine Elf Team #36 was the first car to pit, after 24 laps. Two laps later, Glickenhaus Racing #708 came in, followed by Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 and #7 one lap later to refuel. Glickenhaus was the only one to change tires, causing them to fall to fourth place.

The stewards had looked into the start, and they weren’t happy with Porsche’s behaviour in the GTE Pro category, where there was a big gap between them and the Prototypes ahead. Both cars got a 15-second pitstop penalty the next time they pitted. The penalty, however, came after the team did their first pitstop, so it had to wait until the second.

Corvette Racing #64 took the lead in GTE Pro due to a faster pitstop than Porsche. Even though the latter hadn’t served their penalty yet.

Algarve Pro Racing #45 had a solo spin in Turn 5, but could continue without any problem.

AF Corse Ferrari #51
Photo: JJ Media

Cairoli in Team Project 1 Porsche #46 had worked himself up to P8 in the GTE Am category, in just an hour, before he handed the car over to Mikkel O. Pedersen.

JOTA #38 got a Drive-through for the collision with Ultimate #35 in Turn 2, earlier in the race.

Suddenly, Inter Europol Competition #34 drove slowly in the middle of the track. The replay showed, however, that there was contact between Fabio Scherer and Francois Heriau in Ultimate #35. Scherer pitted right away, handing the car over to Esteban Gutierrez.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 had cooked their tires so much that Corvette Racing #64 could overtake them in Turn 4, although in theory the former was the much faster Hypercar.

Inter Europol Competition #34 had some problems with the electronics in the car again. They managed to restart the car, just like what Scherer did earlier.

Shortly after that, #34 stalled again – this time outside the pit wall. Ten seconds later it drove again. Half an hour later, things went wrong again before the car would start again. Five corners later, it stopped again…

Glickenhaus Racing #708
Photo: JJ Media

After battling for several laps, Michelle Gatting managed to overtake Satoshi Hoshino in D’Station Racing #777, and was up to fourth place in GTE Am.

Prema Orlen Team #9 did super well in their FIA WEC debut, currently in third place, right behind both United Autosports USA cars.

After two hours, Alpine Elf Team #36 had built a gap of over thirty seconds down to Toyota Gazoo Racing #8. It was also necessary since they had to refuel at least one more time than Toyota and Glickenhaus, in a normal race. United Autosports USA #22 led LMP2, AF Corse #83 in LMP2 Pro/Am, Corvette Racing #64 in GTE Pro, and Northwest AMR #98 in GTE Am.

Porsche #91 and #92 had served their penalties, but thanks to the fantastic job from the mechanics, they could come out less than twelve seconds behind Corvette Racing #64, even though it was a 15-second penalty.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 had slowly but surely drove up to P3 in GTE Am, but Bronze-rated driver Christian Ried still had a bit of his obligatory driving time. On the other hand, Ben Keating in second place in TF Sport Aston Martin #33 was on the last minutes of his minimum time – having been in the car uninterrupted for almost three hours!

United Autosports USA #22
Photo: JJ Media

Glickenhaus Racing #708 pitted at the same time with Ultimate #35, which meant that the team had to push the car back before they could refuel. When Romain Dumas climbed out of the car he should’ve taken the seat padding with him, but when he walked away from the car, it got clipped by #35, which was on the way out of the pit. Really lucky that neither Dumas nor any mechanic got hit.

After nearly three hours in the car, Ben Keating had to give up the second place in GTE Am to Sebastian Priaulx in Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77.

Giancarlo Fisichella in Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 did a bold overtake on his old Spirit of Race #54 teammate Francesco Castellacci, where the two cars went side by side through Turn 17 – luckily without any contact.

ARC Bratislava #44 got a Drive-through for driving over the white line in the pit entry.

Nicolas Leutwiler in Team Project 1 Porsche #46 did an almost exact copy of the mistake in yesterday’s qualifying, rolling back into the tire wall and damaging the rear wing and rear bumper. What a shame for the team, that after Cairoli and Pedersen had worked so hard up the field, they had to push the car back into the garage for repair.

Team Project 1 Porsche #46
Photo: JJ Media

Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 got nothing less than a 25-second Stop & Go penalty for speeding in the pitlane, in one of their pitstops. They had earlier stayed in the pits for over eight minutes, but you can’t catch up by speeding in the pitlane…

Team WRT #31 went off the track in Turn 13, but Sean Gelael could quickly recover.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 had to crawl back to the pits with a punctured left rear tire. Everything went extremely well for them, until Fred Poordad spun right before the pit entry. It almost went wrong when he had to cross the track in a blind corner. But luckily, he made it to the pits safely.

The two Toyota Gazoo Racing cars swapped positions on the track, where #7 came ahead of #8 for the first time in the race.

Prema Orlen Team #9 was the new LMP2 leader, after they drove past both United Autosports USA cars, who were in a battle against each other. #23 overtook #22, but they had lost a lot of time.

Inter Europol Competition #34
Photo: JJ Media

Jose Maria Lopez in Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 made a mistake and hit Dempsey-Proton Porsche #88 under an overtake. The Porsche only suffered minimum damage, but Lopez hit the tire wall with the front of the car. It loosened the Toyota’s front. In a desperate attempt to come back to the pits quickly, the Argentinian drove way too fast and the front part got pushed under the car, and he lost control of the car. He crashed into the tire wall in Turn 14, flew in the air and landed on the roof. Luckily, Lopez was okay, but the accident was so big that it triggered a red flag right away, since there was an overturned car, and a tire wall spread out all over the track.

It took a bit over half an hour, before the race got restarted behind the Safety Car, where the teams got three laps to warm their tires and brakes again, before the real restart.

The Toyota pitted right before the Safety Car pulled away, which gave the lead back to Alpine, who could escape right away in front.

There were problems for Spirit of Race Ferrari #71, which stopped in the middle of the track.

The lead in GTE Pro changed when Porsche #92 started an overtake on Corvette Racing #64 down the back straight, and finished it through Turn 17.

Corvette Racing #64
Photo: JJ Media

Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 was about to run out of fuel, so they pitted while the pitlane was closed – and thus they had to pit again on the next lap, getting the car fully refuelled. It meant that, they not only lost one lap to the leading Alpine Elf Team #36, but also fell behind Glickenhaus Racing #708.

Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 crawled slowly back to the pit entry, but they still needed to drive the last 100 metres. It took several minutes for Gabriel Aubry to cross the white line, so the mechanics had to run and push the car.

Glickenhaus Racing #708 got a Drive-through for overtaking before the restart. The overtake happened only a few metres before they passed the green flag, but you have to be on the right side of the line before you’re allowed to overtake.

United Autosports USA #22 wasn’t as fast anymore since they slowly fell back in the LMP2 field. First, Realteam by WRT #41 drove past them, shortly followed by Team WRT #31.

Iron Dames Ferrari #85 went off the track in Turn 7, but Sarah Bovy could quickly recover.

Vector Sport #10 went off in Turn 5, where Mike Rockenfeller hit the Armco and damaged the nose of the ORECA 07 Gibson. Thus, he had to pit for a new nose, as well as hand over the car to Ryan Cullen.

Iron Dames Ferrari #85
Photo: JJ Media

With three hours left on the clock, Alpine Elf Team #36 was ahead in Hypercar, United Autosports #23 in LMP2, Ultimate #35 in LMP2 Pro/Am, Porsche #92 with Michael Christensen as one of the drivers was leading GTE Pro, and Northwest AMR #98 with Nicki Thiim behind the wheel was the leader in GTE Am.

The two WRT cars drove really close to each other in Turn 17. Fortunately, there was no contact, and Realteam by WRT #41 was slightly ahead of #31.

Team Penske #5 got a 10-second pitstop penalty since the engine was already on while the mechanics were changing the tires.

JOTA #28
Photo: JJ Media

Vector Sport #10 went off the track in – ironically – Turn 10. Rockenfeller had earlier complained about the lack of speed, but a set-up change had been made after Rocky went off the track earlier, and yet it still bothered Ryan Cullen

Porsche #91 had problems taking the left rear tire off the car, where the mechanics had to try a few times before the bolt finally got loosened. It caused them to lose second place to Corvette Racing #64.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 had a hard race, ending up mounting a WeatherTech door on the car, from the team’s IMSA car.

A side-view mirror from Team Project 1 Porsche #56 lay on the track, which caused a Full Course Yellow, so the marshals could come and pick it up. At the same time, they also cleaned up other debris from the track, so the stewards could keep the race green with as clean a track as possible.

TF Sport Aston Martin #33
Photo: JJ Media

United Autosports USA almost got into trouble internally when #22 was on the way into the pits, while #23 was ready to come out. It was close to becoming an unsafe release, but the mechanics were quick to react and held Paul di Resta back, so he didn’t get clipped by the sister car.

Slowly but surely, the clouds began to drive over the track and rain showers hang over the horizon.

The problems continued for Inter Europol Competition #34, and the mechanics had to push the car back to the garage.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 went off the track in Turn 13, just like many others had, but Matteo Cressoni could quickly recover.

Team Penske #5
Photo: JJ Media

With seventy minutes left, there was another Safety Car, followed by a red flag due to lightning in the area.

It took about 25 minutes before the race got restarted behind the Safety Car.

There was drama for Team WRT #31, who had to pit after a five-second fuel, and afterwards, they had to wait for the pit to reopen. On the next lap, Realteam by WRT #41 pitted, just as the majority of the LMP2 field. United Autosports USA #23, however, continue on the track behind the Safety Car, waiting for the pit to reopen.

Before the restart, there was another red flag due to even more lightning in the area.

The race never got restarted since it was too dangerous for the marshals to be out in such conditions.

Alpine Elf Team #36
Photo: JJ Media

Alpine Elf Team #36 with Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao won the race, ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa, and Brendon Hartley, while Glickenhaus Racing #708 with Ryan Briscoe, Romain Dumas, and Olivier Pla finished third.

United Autosports USA #23 with Josh Pierson, Oliver Jarvis, and Paul di Resta won the LMP2 category, ahead of Team WRT #31 with Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns, and Rene Rast, while Prema Orlen Team #9 with Louis Deletraz, Lorenzo Columbo, and Robert Kubica was P3.

United Autosports USA #23
Photo: JJ Media

AF Corse #83 with Francois Perrodo, Alessio Rovera, and Nicklas Nielsen won the LMP2 Pro/Am category, and was ninth in the overall LMP2 category. Ultimate #35 with Jean-Baptiste and Matthieu Lahaye plus Francois Heriau finished second, and Algarve Pro Racing #45 with Steven Thomas, James Allen, and Rene Binder was P3 in LMP2 Pro/Am.

AF Corse #83
Photo: JJ Media

Porsche #92 with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen won the GTE Pro category, ahead of Corvette Racing #64 with Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner, while Porsche #91 with Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni finished third. AF Corse Ferrari #51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado finished fourth, while their teammates in #52 with Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco finished in P5. The red cars were never in the battle for the podium today.

Porsche #92
Photo: JJ Media

Northwest AMR #98 with Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard and Nicki Thiim won the GTE Am category, followed by TF Sport Aston Martin #33 with Ben Keating, Florian Latorre, and Marco Sørensen, and Team Project 1 Porsche #56 with Brendan Iribe, Ben Barnicoat, and Oliver Millroy in P3.

Northwest AMR #98 & Porsche #91
Photo: JJ Media

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2022 will be run on 7 May at Spa Francorchamps track in Belgium.

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