The Ferrari 499P made its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship finishing in third place in the 1000 Miles of Sebring. Car number 50 driven to the finish line by Antonio Fuoco secured third, and finishing seventh with the other Hypercar which arrived at the checkered flag with Alessandro Pier Guidi behind the wheel.
Fifty years after the marque last participated in the premier class of endurance racing, Ferrari showed up in Florida earning a historic pole position with Fuoco, who shares the car with Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen, and a fourth place on the grid with the three-time world champion in the LMGTE Pro class, crewed by James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi.
For most of the race both 499Ps were the chief challengers in the battle with the two Toyota Hypercars for the first places in the standings, despite a Drive Through and a five-second penalty for an infraction during a pit stop served by the crew of number 50. The episode that affected the running of Hypercar number 51, on the other hand, took place two hours from the finish line, when a contact between Pier Guidi – fifth at the time – and the 488 GTE entered in the LMGTE Am category, driven by Francesco Castellacci, forced the Piedmontese driver to return to the pits to allow the technicians to carry out the necessary repairs, losing a few laps.
The last hour of the 1000 Miglia ensured a show especially for the third step of the podium. Fuoco, who remained at the wheel for 110 of the 217 laps completed by his crew in line with the strategy set by the AF Corse team, resisted the pursuit of the Cadillac and, after pit stops by both cars, rejoined the track ahead of the American team and thus secured the position at the end of the race, won by the number 7 Toyota.
The World Endurance Championship will be back in the spotlight on the weekend of April 16 on the Portuguese circuit of Portimão which will host the second act of the season with the 6-hour race.
LMGTE Am podium for Kessel Racing
The opening race of the FIA WEC 2023 concluded with Kessel Racing’s Ferrari 488 GTE third after 219 laps at the 1000 Miles of Sebring. The two AF Corse cars finished fourth and fifth at the chequered flag in the LMGTE Am class, while the Ferrari of Richard Mille AF Corse had to retire following an accident in the early stages.
The crew of Takeshi Kimura, Scott Huffaker, and Ferrari official driver Daniel Serra stood out in the professional and gentlemen drivers category, featuring in the top five for most of the race. Having completed 66 of the team’s 219 laps, Serra finished the race on the podium but saw an apparently certain second place slip away due to a quick refuel. He finished third, two laps behind the winner, the number 33 Corvette.
Ulysse de Pauw secured fourth place at the chequered flag for AF Corse’s Ferrari number 21. The Belgian driver, competing in the Florida event alongside Stefano Costantini and Simon Mann, posted his team’s best time of 1’59’’625. The 488 GTE number 54, with the official driver Davide Rigon, took fifth place. With less than two hours to go, when Francesco Castellacci was at the wheel, the car collided with the Hypercar 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi. This did not prevent the car he shared with Thomas Flohr from finishing in the Top-5.
The endurance race of Richard Mille AF Corse’s 488 GTE ended prematurely after Luís Pérez Companc crashed on Turn 1 ten minutes after the green flag. The driver was unhurt, but the crew, including Lilou Wadoux and Alessio Rovera, had to retire.
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