Last weekend’s official pre-season test, the Prologue, marked the first time that seven different models of Hypercar-class challengers shared the track, with familiar entries from Toyota, Glickenhaus and Peugeot joined by the likes of Cadillac, Ferrari, Porsche and Vanwall for what is FIA WEC’s fourth visit to the circuit.
Since last season, the Hypercar field has more than doubled reaching the point envisaged in the early days of developing this concept and proving that the Hypercar technical platform appeals to the manufacturers.
BUMPS ALL THE WAY Built in 1952 on the runways and connecting roads of a former US Army Air Base, Sebring International Raceway has become a mecca for sportscar fans and today is one of the oldest operating circuits in the United States.
Across its 17 turns (six left-handers and 11 right-handers) the 6.019km-long course accommodates several long straights and a combination of high-speed and very technical slower corners, with a bumpy concrete surface further adding to the challenge.
Ullman straight is the fastest section of the circuit with 294kph being the top speed recorded by a Hypercar-class car. On average Hypercar drivers go full throttle for 48% of the lap, although that value may vary from car to car, depending on traction control settings. In the top class, there are also approximately 48 gear shifts per lap on average and an estimated stint length is 27 laps.
ANYBODY’S GAME IN HYPERCAR Reigning Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ champions Toyota Gazoo Racing carries an unchanged driver line-up into 2023, but the Japanese manufacturer which dominated its category over the last couple of years is set to face firm competition from six other automotive brands. It was also Toyota that went quickest overall and covered most laps during the two-day test, but the fight for the Sebring glory remains anybody’s game.
Additional pressure will be on the US-flagged entrants, Cadillac and Glickenhaus, with the former making its FIA WEC debut. Furthermore, Peugeot TotalEnergies has local racer Gustavo Menezes among its line-up of drivers, with fellow Californian, Dane Cameron, sporting the colours of Porsche Penske Motorsport.
Floyd Vanwall Racing Team will be in Sebring with Formula 1 World Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, who enjoys great popularity in North America, among its drivers.
QUALITY ENTRY ACROSS ALL CLASSES The LMP2 class will be equally hard fought with 12 cars of identical specification going for glory. The entry is headlined by last year’s title-winning squad, Hertz Team JOTA, which will start its campaign with a familiar Oreca 07 – Gibson, but won’t defend the crown as its set to switch to Porsche Hypercar machinery later in the season.
A record-breaking LMGTE Am line-up of 14 cars from four different manufacturers will spice up the on-track action, with all eyes on Corvette Racing and its new signing, US driver Ben Keating.
A further six American drivers will race in the class including Simon Mann, Michael Dinan, PJ Hyett and Gunnar Jeannette, Scott Huffaker and Ryan Hardwick.
The action starts on Wednesday with Free Practice 1 and 2, followed by FP3 and Qualifying the following day. The green flag will be waved over Sebring at midday local time on Friday, marking the beginning of the 2023 season in the world’s premier endurance racing series.
2023 FIA World Endurance Championship - 1000 Miles of Sebring schedule (local time)
Wednesday 15 March
Free Practice 1: 10:55 - 11:55 Free Practice 2: 16:35 - 17:35
Thursday 16 March
Free Practice 3: 11:55 - 12:55 Qualifying: 18:30 - 19:35