Sebring (USA), March 14.- The Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Toyota TS050 Hybrid), who broke the lap record, will seek to strengthen, from the pole position, his leadership in the World Resistance Championship (WEC, in English acronym) the 1,000 miles of Sebring, the sixth round of the championship, which takes place this Friday at the Florida circuit (United States).
Alonso, who exhibited and stopped the clock in one minute, 40 seconds and 124 thousandths – historic record of the circuit, and his Japanese teammate Kazuki Nakajima averaged to cover the 6,019 meters of the legendary – and very bumpy and broken – US track , a time of one minute, 40 seconds and 318 thousandths, 485 less than the average they took with the other Toyota, the 7, the Argentine José María ‘Pechito’ López and the Englishman Mike Conway.
The great Asturian pilot ‘flew’ in the Florida night and in his tanda already fitted almost a second (958 thousandths) to Conway, for, next to Nakajima’s chronometer (1: 40.513), sign an average that improved by almost half second the one of the other Japanese car, that also piloted ‘Pechito’, that, with problems at the beginning, ended up turning in 1: 40.544.
The fratricidal battle between Toyota’s dominant hybrids, which lead the WEC’s main category (the LMP1), moved to the old 17-curve circuit, built on an airfield used as a training base during World War II, the Hendricks Army Airfield .
And for the moment, started with an advantage for Alonso and his teammates, who won, in 2018, the first two races, the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans (France). Before, after signing another ‘double’ with the car of the astur in first position, both Toyota were disqualified, for irregularities in the flat bottom, of the Six Hours of Silverstone (England).
The last two races also concluded with a 1-2 for the Toyota Gazoo Racing, but with the car of ‘Pechito’, Kobayashi and Conway winning the Six Hours of Fuji (Japan) and the Six of Shanghai (China). From where Alonso and his colleagues were disappointed, to understand that the strategy of his team, which ended up apologizing to them, had hurt them for the benefit of the car.
Four months later and with three races to go before the end of the ‘Super season’ Alonso, Buemi and Kakajima lead with 6 points of advantage – the five with which they arrived in the United States, plus the one they won on Thursday with their ‘pole’ ‘the Asturian genius- about the’ other Toyota ‘, that of’ Pechito ‘. He pointed out to Efe that “the relationship between the pilots is good, because” they are all mature people “and what happens on the track stays on track”.
“The outside is something else,” added the Argentine on Thursday, who, before qualifying, had been the best in the third and last free practice, which, unlike the two on Wednesday, was one hour, instead of 90 minutes. In which Alonso was second, in the circuit that housed the first endurance race played in the United States, in 1952: the 12 Hours of Sebring, test now included in the IMSA championship and to be played on Saturday.
But in the qualifying session, whose twenty minutes were played from ten o’clock at night, Alonso showed that he has not come to Florida to do tourism. And as soon as he got behind the wheel, he pulverized the marks, adding one more point to the difference on the Toyota team’s other car.
Unlike the six-hour races, the triumph in Sebring grants 32 points, instead of 25; while the runner-up adds 23, instead of 18. Reason why the race on Friday will be of great importance for the outcome of a contest that will close with the two tests that are repeated, those of Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.
Alonso, who in the afternoon already pointed out that he was “optimistic” and that he hoped to “win here in Sebring”, indicated again to Efe after his new exhibition that he is “happy”; He was cautious, “because the ‘poles’ always count fair,” but he celebrated that first place on the grid means “one more point in the championship.”
The 1,000 miles of Sebring will start at four o’clock in the afternoon (nine o’clock in the evening in Spanish peninsular time, 20:00 hours GMT) and will conclude once covered, which, converted, is equivalent to 1,609 kilometers; or, failing that, when the eight hours of competition are reached. That is, at midnight: five o’clock in the morning on Saturday in Central Europe.