Kamui Kobayashi set the quickest lap in the second FIA World Endurance Championship Free Practice session at Sebring maintaining Toyota Gazoo Racing’s lead in the timing tables.
The Japanese driver guided Toyota to a one-two finish, which put it one second ahead of the No. 50 Ferrari 499P in third place at the close of Wednesday’s thrice red-flagged FP2 session.
It was the No. 7 Toyota’s turn to win the afternoon practice session thanks to Kobayashi’s 1:46.954 performance after the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid had topped the morning session.
Kobayashi bested his teammate Brendon Hartley by 0.318 seconds by recording the first lap time under 1:47 since the WEC debuted at Sebring last Saturday.
The Japanese team cranked up its performance during the red-flag-interrupted FP2, after AF Corse’s Ferrari 499Ps managed to keep pace with the Toyotas in the first practice session of the 1000 Km event this morning.
It looks that the GR010 HYBRID still has some real pace to offer. The team is certain to find even more time in qualifying tomorrow after the fastest time this afternoon was over a second faster than the best laps completed during the Prologue test.
No other Hypercar competitor was able to close the gap to the leading Toyota to within a second. Antonio Fuoco’s #50 Ferrari finished third, eight tenths behind the sister #8 Toyota, which took second place for the day. The Italian ran a full ten laps and recorded a best time of 1:48.121.
Following Richard Westbrook’s 1:48.265, the Cadillac Racing V-Series.R, which has been fast since debut was also in contention, appearing in between the two Ferraris on the timing screens.
Westbrook’s practice wasn’t perfect, though; the British driver made contact with the #88 Proton Competition Porsche at the Hairpin, causing Ryan Hardwick to go head-on with the concrete blocks just before the armco section at the hairpin. Westbrook, who was moving over to pass Hardwick, collided with the Porsche’s front with the back of his V-Series in the braking zone. R.
The Porsche sustained substantial damage, and the red flag period for cleanup was around 10 minutes long.
The Porsche and Peugeot Hypercar camps found the session to be relatively calm. Porsche’s #5 963 was the only vehicle from the two teams’ quartet to lap faster than the #28 JOTA ORECA, which won LMP2.
The Glickenhaus 007, which had a more promising run and had Olivier Pla post a time about a second faster than the team’s fastest during the Prologue, had a better run than the #5’s best lap, which was only good for sixth.
Pietro Fittipaldi set a time of 1:50.326 in the #28 JOTA ORECA finishing first in LMP2, which was a tenth faster than the quickest of the two Peugeots and four tenths faster than the first of the two United Autosports ORECAs, which finished second and third.
The drama in GTE class that raised a red flag throughout the session wasn’t limited to the off for the #88. After the GTE Am pace-setting Kessel Ferrari crashed at Turn 3, the running had to be stopped toward the conclusion.
Daniel Serra, driving for factory Ferrari, set the fastest time in the production-based division with a time of 1:58.845 seconds, edging Nicky Catsburg of Corvette Racing by 0.277 seconds.
Four different manufacturers are represented in the top four, thanks to Iron Lynx Porsche pilot Alessio Picariello and D’station Racing Aston Martin driver Casper Stevenson.
The third and final Practice session is scheduled for Thursday 11:55 a.m. local time.