Ferrari take Sebring pole on return to top-flight sportscars

Ferrari will start its first race in the premier class of the World Endurance Championship from pole position after longtime ally Antonio Fuoco beat the Toyotas in qualifying at Sebring.

Ferrari makes its premier WEC debut at this week’s 2023 season opener, the Sebring 1000, driving alongside WEC dominators Toyota, Peugeot (which debuted its hypercar in mid-2022) and manufacturers’ debutants, Porsche and Cadillac.

It looked like the closest rival to pre-season favorites Toyota throughout practice and lived up to that promise in the high-intensity 15-minute qualifying session, which featured one of the three drivers from each car.

Fuoco, who first joined Ferrari as a junior driver ten years ago, clinched pole in his first qualifying session in the WEC premier class after having contested GTE races for the past two years.

He took pole with a 1m45.067s, 0.214s quicker than the reigning champion #8 Toyota, who had ex-Toro Rosso F1 driver Brendon Hartley at the wheel.

Fuoco – teammate to Charles Leclerc during the title-winning F2 season that brought Leclerc to F1 the following year – shares the pole-seat Ferrari with Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen.

Hartley was followed by Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 sister Toyota and the second Ferrari hypercar completed the top four with another Ferrari GTE graduate, Alessandro Pier Guidi, driving the qualifying lap of the #51 Ferrari – i.e. Antonio Giovinazzi and the Three-time GTE Pro Champion James Calado will start his first high-profile WEC race from fourth place.

Ex-Formula E driver Alex Lynn spent the first part of qualifying in the pits but came out later to secure fifth on the grid for Cadillac’s stellar WEC debut.

The lone Cadillac will have the two Penske-Porsches behind it, with Kevin Estre qualifying the number 6 car in sixth place and Michael Christensen placing the number 5 car in seventh place.

Motor Racing Fia World Endurance Championship Wec Prologue Sebring, USA

In qualifying, Peugeot took eighth and ninth place with its two cars as the fifth-best of the manufacturers. Loic Duval beat his teammate Mikkel Jensen to place the #94 car, which he shares with Formula E drivers Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor, ahead of the #93.

Long-time endurance racer Olivier Pla completed the top 10 in the Glickenhaus #708 entry.

It was just over a tenth and a half faster than the slowest hypercar – the vanwall entry of Tom Dillmann (who set the qualifying time), touring car switch Esteban Guerrieri and 1997 F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

LMP2 pole went to team United Autosports, co-founded by Zak Brown, with ex-Audi LMP1 driver Oliver Jarvis claiming pole for the number 23 car.

Former W-Series racer Sarah Bovy put the all-female Iron Dames on pole in the GTE Am – now the only GTE class in the WEC – with a superb late lap.

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