The final free practice session for the World Endurance Championship has come to a close in Sebring, with Ford running fastest in GTE Pro, and Toyota fastest in LMP1. Jackie Chan DC Racing came out on top again in LMP2, while Dempsey-Proton racing put on a good show in GTE Am.
That’s practice over with at Sebring, the next time the cars will hit the track will be for the evening’s qualifying sessions. Out in front in LMP1 was the #7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway with a 1:41.448, ahead of the sister car. Just over six-tenths separated the two TS050s, somewhat more than the gap of just over 2.7s that separated second and third. Behind the two Toyotas sat the Dragonspeed with their best showing in any of the free practice sessions. Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Renger van der Zande managed to pull a 1:44.156 out of the #10 car, putting it in front of the two Rebellion machines – the #1 squad finishing ahead of their teammates in the #3. Down in 6th and 7th, SMP Racing seemingly struggling slightly with the bumps during this session, with commentators reporting spotting the cars porpoising along the track surface.
Two of the top three in LMP2 look the same as they did in FP2, with the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing and #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Orecas finishing first and second fastest ahead of the #29 Dallara of Racing Team Nederland. It’s not been plain sailing for the Dutch team however following a suspension failure during FP2 – this has meant that Nyck de Vries has not completed his nighttime laps as yet, and will potentially require dispensation from the stewards if he is to drive during the night in the race, an interesting debut for the young Dutchman! The rest of the order for LMP2 saw Dragonspeed finish fourth, ahead of TDS Racing, the second Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca and finally Labre Competition in the #50 Ligier.
— Ford Performance (@FordPerformance) March 14, 2019
As our headline suggests, Ford brought the fight back during this session, topping the times with the #67 car. Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito finished a few tenths ahead of the two factory Porsches and the #51 AF Corse Ferrari. The rest of the GTE Pro field finished behind the #77 GTE Am Porsche of Dempsey-Proton Racing. In a change of fortunes, both Aston Martins found themselves at the bottom of the GTE Pro times, but that could all change come qualifying.
In GTE Am, it was an impressive run for the #77 to split the GTE Pro cars, but the second and third fastest Am cars also finished ahead of their Pro rivals. The second Dempsey car, the #88 of Matteo Cairoli, Gianluca and Giorgio Roda, and the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche both finishing ahead of the two Pro Aston Martin Vantages. There were more woes to come for the British make, however, as the #98 Am Aston Martin found itself in the wall at T17, having tried to get around the outside of one of the Fords. The marbles were unforgiving and saw Paul Dalla Lana having to nurse his car around a large chunk of the circuit before disappearing behind the wall for repairs.
Qualifying for the GTE cars begins at 21.30 local time, before the LMP session kicks off at 22.00.