The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) returned to Sebring, Florida for the first time since 2012. A lot of technology has changed in the LMP2 class (which features open tyre competition) in that time, but one aspect was the same as seven years ago: the winning team chose to use Dunlop tyres.
It was the Jackie Chan DC Racing who took their fourth win in five races, but this time it was their #37 car that took the flag. The car’s all-new driver combination of Jordan King, David Heinemeier Hansson and Will Stevens were in control for the majority of the 1000 mile race.
The trio had qualified second, with their sister car setting a new qualifying record to secure a Dunlop 1-2 on the grid. The #38 pole-sitter was 1.9 seconds ahead of the first non-Dunlop car (the 3rd place Signatech Alpine).
Forever Forward – LMP2 as fast as 2012 LMP1
The pole lap by Stephane Richelmi(1:46.923) would have put him third overall on the LMP1 grid when WEC last visited Sebring, and faster than nine of the LMP1 cars that competed in that 2012 race. It was also 4.5 seconds faster than the 2012 LMP2 lap record.
However, the qualifying pace came to nothing as team-mate Ho-Pin Tung pitted with electrical issues in the opening stages of the race, with the championship leading car losing over an hour as the loom was replaced. That misfortune allowed the sister car to move to the front with Heinemeier Hansson driving a strong stint. The Dane defended the lead before handing over to his British team-mates: former Marussia and Caterham Formula One driver Will Stevens and Indycar star Jordan King.
Dunlop’s new C-tyre takes a debut win
The race had a final sting in the tail. With just 20 minutes of the 8 hour marathon remaining, the Florida warmth gave way to rain. This allowed the Dunlop runners to switch from the all-new slick ‘C specification’ tyre to the grooved intermediate tyre which is renowned for its strong performance in a wide range of wet conditions.
The Dunlop ‘C-specification’ debut was significant. WEC allow up to three dry weather tyre specifications to be used in a season, but until now only a soft A and harder B specification were required. The new tyre was designed to improve the balance and driveability of the car without losing the peak performance of the A spec tyre. Its wide operating window was proven by its consistent pace across a range of track temperatures. At the start of the race the track was over 40c but dropped to 28c during nightfall.
Mathias Kipp, Dunlop Motorsport Sales Manager, was delighted with the tyre debut, stating: “We introduced this tyre to provide a greater confidence for a range of different drivers, but still retaining the peak performance of our soft A tyre. Sebring is a challenging circuit for tyres with a range of different surfaces and the afternoon into night format bringing varying temperatures. This result gives our customers a boost for the run up to the the season finale: the Le Mans 24 hours in June. We congratulate Jota Sport, who run the Jackie Chan DC Racing team, on their pole position and win. It’s a great way to begin our 10th consecutive year of working together in LMP2.”
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium on May 4th.
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