The 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship began last week at Sebring with the 1000 Miles race. It was a special event for two reasons. First, cars from a new category – LMDh – and from the old LMH category raced together in the highest class: Hypercar. Secondly, Ferrari returned to endurance racing after fifty years with their new 499P car from the LMH group.
The reigning champion Toyota had a successful race with their new GR010 Hybrid LMH, as two of their cars finished first and second place. The number 7 car, driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López took the top spot followed very closely by the no. 8 vehicle which was piloted by Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa who were only 2.168 seconds behind them.
Ferrari didn’t get the start they were hoping for, but their car – number 50 499P still came in third place. This means drivers Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicklas Nielsen finished two laps behind the Toyotas who came first.
The Toyota race cars were in second place, just behind a Ferrari at the start of the race. But then, after a car crash caused by a GT car during the fifth lap, the race was stopped for 25 minutes. This gave the Toyotas time to get into first place since the Ferrari had to stop for fuel. The gap between them kept increasing and reached two laps eventually.
The no. 51 Ferrari 499P faced some drama two hours from the finish line. While Pier Guidi was driving it, it crashed into another Ferrari 488 GTE driven by Francesco Castellacci and needed repairs in the pits. In the end, it came in seventh place while ahead of it were the fourth placed no. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R and fifth and sixth placed no. 5 and no. 6 Porsche 963 LMDhs.
The next event we are waiting for is the 6 Hours of Portimão in Portugal which will happen on April 19. A really big race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be held starting from June 10.