The Sebring circuit hosted the FIA WEC Prologue, two days of testing prior to the opening round of the championship, the Sebring 1000 Miles, scheduled to take place on the same track on Friday, 17 March. The two Ferrari 499Ps entered in the Hypercar class amassed a total of 313 laps, gathering valuable data ahead of the race, in spite of the fact that the programme of the no. 51 499P was prematurely interrupted following damage sustained after crashing off-track on the first lap of the Sunday session.
Day 1. A clear day with temperatures just under 30°C was the backdrop for the morning session. On the 6.019-kilometre American track, the no. 51 Ferrari 499P driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi set the fifth fastest time, stopping the clock at 1’49”724, some 0’458 less than teammates Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen, seventh in the no. 50 car.
In the afternoon, improving track conditions allowed the crews to shave a few tenths of a second off their best times. The Ferrari – AF Corse team finished in fourth place for the Fuoco-Molina-Nielsen crew with a 1’49”402 marker, ahead of the 499P of Pier Guidi-Calado-Giovinazzi, 0”171 adrift.
Day 2. Sunday morning’s session took place below clear skies and temperatures of 30°C. At the end of the 3 hours and 30 minutes on the track, the Ferrari 499P crewed by Fuoco-Molina-Nielsen had taken seventh place by virtue of a 1’49”558 lap time, produced by the Italian driver.
The session was to end prematurely, however, for the no. 51 Hypercar following a collision into the barriers at turn 1 on the out-lap whilst Calado was at the wheel. The incident on the out-lap, exacerbated by tyres still not up to temperature (thermal blankets are no longer allowed by the regulations), led to some damage to the bodywork and suspension. The Maranello engineers, having already collected plenty of data in the previous sessions, opted to not return the car to the track, thus allowing the mechanics to carry out repairs and check the integrity of the 499P.
In the second session, the no. 50 Ferrari 499P completed 58 laps to achieve the fourth best time, with a lap of 1’49’’300, produced by Nicklas Nielsen.
FERRARI 488 GTE
The FIA World Endurance Championship season got underway at Sebring International Raceway which hosted the two-day Prologue featuring four Ferrari 488 GTEs. The tests, in which the 499Ps in the Hypercar category also took part, anticipate the 1000 Miles, the first round of the championship which will be contested on Friday, 17 March on the 6.019 kilometre American track.
Day 1. Two sessions for a total of six hours, in dry track conditions and temperatures just under 30°C, characterised the first day, with the Ferraris completing a total of 493 laps.
In the morning, Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Davide Rigon set the fastest time among the Prancing Horse cars, 1’59’937, giving third place to the AF Corse team in VistaJet livery; sixth, with a time of 2’00’268, was the Richard Mille AF Corse 488 GTE, driven by Luís Pérez Companc and the two official drivers Lilou Wadoux and Alessio Rovera. Ninth and tenth, respectively, were the AF Corse Ferraris driven by Stefano Costantini, Simon Mann and Ulysse de Pauw, and the Kessel Racing car driven by Takeshi Kimura, Scott Huffaker and Daniel Serra.
In the afternoon, all the Ferraris finished the session in the Top 7. Second was the AF Corse car of Costantini-Mann-de Pauw with a time of 1’59”462; fourth and fifth, respectively, the 488 GTE of Flohr-Castellacci-Rigon and that of Kimura-Huffaker-Serra. Seventh was the Richard Mille AF Corse team.
Day 2. Clear skies and a temperature that exceeded 30°C were the backdrop to the second day, which ended with 441 laps for the Ferraris, which in the first session saw the 488 GTE of Kessel Racing take sixth place, by virtue of a best time of 1’59”332, ahead of the no. 54 488 GTE of AF Corse, just 0”060 away. Tenth and eleventh times were set by car no. 21 of the latter team and the no. 83 of Richard Mille AF Corse.
Highlight of the afternoon was the Ferrari 488 GTE of Richard Mille AF Corse, with Lilou Wadoux, making her debut in the LMGTE Am class of the World Championship, who produced the best time of 1’59”263, worthy of second place just 0”010 from the leader. In the Top 10 were the other Prancing Horse cars: sixth was the no. 54 488 GTE, ninth the no. 57 and tenth the no. 21 Ferrari.
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