Race Weekend Central

Toyota Wins Sebring Pole, Fernando Alonso Sets Track Record

Toyota GAZOO Racing’s No. 8 Toyota TS050-Hybrid easily won the overall pole Thursday night (March 14) for Friday’s 1000 Miles of Sebring.  In the process, Fernando Alonso set the all-time track record for the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway with a lap at 134.473 mph.

Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima combined for an average of 134.213 mph to claim pole.  The lap average was nearly a half-second faster than the No. 7 Toyota.  Rebellion Racing’s No. 3 will start third, more than 2.5 seconds off the pace.  SMP Racing’s two BR Engineering BR1-AERs will start fourth and fifth with the No. 17 out-qualifying the No. 11.

LMP2 saw Jackie Chan DC Racing sweep the first two starting position.  The No. 38 of Gabriel Aubry and Stéphane Richelmi won the class pole with an average lap speed of 125.179 mph, good for eighth overall.  That lap was nearly two-thirds of a second faster than the team’s No. 37 ORECA 07-Gibson.  Signatech Alpine Matmut was third quickest with their Alpine A470-Gibson, followed by DragonSpeed’s No. 31.  The sole Ligier JS P217-Gibson in the field for Larbre Competition was fifth.

The GT session was marred by a red flag 12 minutes into the session.  Clearwater Racing’s Luis Perez-Companc spun and crashed his Ferrari into the unprotected concrete wall on the straight leading to the hairpin.  Perez-Companc was ok, but the session was stopped for nearly 20 minutes.  That ultimately affected the final result because there was no opportunity for the first qualifying driver to make a second run.

GTE-Pro saw Porsche GT Team’s Michael Christensen and Kevin Estré win the class pole in their No. 92 Porsche with an average lap speed of 114.587 mph.  Of note, no driver in the session lapped the circuit as quickly as the fastest GT Le Mans drivers in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice did, despite the cars being very similar.

Porsche GT Team’s No. 92 was one-tenth of a second faster than Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK’s No. 67.  The No. 66 Ford was another tenth of a second back in third, while the No. 82 BMW Team MTEK entry was fourth.  Corvette Racing’s No. 63 with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia doing double duty will start fifth in class.

GTE-Am saw Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 Porsche Matt Campbell and Christian Ried win the class pole with an average lap speed of 112.397 mph.  That average lap time was one-seventh of a second faster than the Team Project 1 Porsche.  Just getting on the grid was an accomplishment for Team Project 1 after a huge fire during a test session last week.

Aston Martin Racing’s No. 98 Vantage will start third in class, followed by Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 88 Porsche.  TF Sport’s previous generation Aston Martin Vantage will start fifth in class.


The 1000 Miles of Sebring is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.  The race will air live flag-to-flag on Motor Trend (formerly Velocity).

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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