After two days of testing running at Sebring International this weekend ahead of the FIA WEC’s season opening 1000 Miles of Sebring next weekkend, it is clear that Porsche is in the top half of the Hypercar class with its freshly-debuted 963 hybrid LMDh prototype. Toyota, which has been running a pair of GR010 Hybrid Hypercars—developed in part from the successful TS050 LMP1 program—in the FIA WEC since 2021, was the clear speed leader of the four test sessions. Indeed the GR010 found the fastest lap time in three of those four sessions on Saturday and Sunday, as well as the fastest lap times of the weekend. The fourth session was led by Earl Bamber in the Cadillac Racing V-Series.R hybrid LMDh. The fastest Porsche laps got down to within a few tenths of a second of the Toyotas, but only good enough to be named the fourth and fifth fastest cars of the test.
Of course, Porsche claims it was working on in-race pace for many of those sessions, and there’s no way to tell what kind of configuration any of the cars were run in, or whether they were carrying full or light loads of fuel. It’s possible some of the teams are sandbagging for next weekend’s race, hoping to put one over on the balance of performance adjudicators. The fastest of the Porsches posted a 1:48.957 lap, in comparison to the Cadillac’s 1:48.429, and the Toyota’s 1:48.208. The new Ferrari 499P couldn’t ever break out of the 1:49s, and one of the cars suffered a major crash on Sunday which the team says will see it sit out of the Sebring race next week. Peugeot’s 9X8 posted times deep in the 1:49s, while the brand new Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vandervell 680 was just barely tipped into the 1:50s. Despite having worked on its 007 Hypercar since 2018, the Glickenhaus team was well off the pace, running slower than many LMP2 teams in the 1:51s and 1:52s across the weekend.
It’s entirely possible that Porsche will be able to pull out something truly magic in the FIA WEC this season by improving speed and reliability in equal measure, but based on recent results at the 24 Hours of Daytona the 963 has a little to gain on the Cadillac LMDh if it wants to even be best of the non-Toyotas. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out over 1000 miles next week.
As for the GTE Am class, Porsche has a good opportunity to dominate the class, having posted several top times this weekend. The Project 1 – AO Racing team posted the fastest GTE Am lap of the weekend with a 1:59.170 on Sunday morning. The whole class is separated by about 1.2 seconds, so it’s going to be a tight battle amongst the Porsches, Ferrari 488s, Corvette C8.R, and Aston Vantages. This could be a really exciting race.