SMP Racing drivers Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov and their co-driver Brendon Hartley took third place at the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Sebring, Florida. The Russian car No.11 LMP1 class car was the the best placed non-hybrid cars for the round.
Starting the race from P5, the team received a puncture in the rear tyre which forced Petrov to into the pits. But despite the unplanned pit stop they were able to peg back precious seconds catching their rivals. As the result, the Russian car crossed the finish line third, losing only to the Toyota hybrid cars.
The 1000 miles of Sebring race continued a series of successful performances of SMP Racing squads on the Russian BR1 prototypes. The SMP Racing team has stood on the podium three times out of six rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship: in China, in the UK, and now in the USA.
“Despite the difficulties at the beginning of the race, we were confident in our abilities, in the work of the team, in the reliability of our car,” Mikhail Aleshin shared. “Lap by lap we made our way from the bottom of the table, eventually reaching the podium and sharing it with the squads of the hybrid Toyota. It was the whole SMP Racing team effort and all those who were supporting us. It is also significant that despite the complexity of the track, its bumpy surface, our car was perfectly prepared and withstood this eight-hour race without any problems, which allows us to look at the upcoming rounds with even greater optimism, including the 24-hour marathon at Le Mans.”
“Sebring is a very difficult track, narrow and with a lot of bumps,” Vitaly Petrov commented. “Therefore, I am especially glad that we managed to show a good result here. At the beginning of the race I punctured the tire, perhaps because of the curb, but managed to drive to the pit lane, where we spent some time to replace the wheels. The race is long, everything could happen. But we successfully coped with all the difficulties and won a deserved podium.”
“It was a fantastic race,” Brendon Hartley said. “At the very beginning we had a small puncture, but we were able to return to the race and eventually climb to the podium. The track in Sebring is very difficult, there are not so many places for overtaking, and at the end of the race it started to rain. However, the whole SMP Racing team did an excellent job, perfectly spent all the pit stops, and we made no mistakes. Excellent experience for my first performance for the Russian SMP Racing team.”
The SMP Racing car No.17 shared by Egor Orudzhev, Sergey Sirotkin and Stéphane Sarrazin started the race from the P4. The drivers managed to overtake their rivals and get closer to the Toyota, the leader of the race. However, on lap 43, Egor Orudzhev tried to avoid a collision in one of the corners with a slower rival ahead of him and flew off the track. As a result, the squad was forced to end the fight without getting to the finish line.
The seventh round of the World Endurance Championship will be held on May 4 at the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
1000 Miles of Sebring results:
1st #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 253 laps
2nd #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1 lap
3rd #11 SMP (Aleshin/Petrov/Hartley) +11 laps
4th #37 Jackie Chan DC (Heinemeier-Hansson/King/Stevens) +14 laps
5th #36 Signatech Alpine (Lapierre/Negrao/Thiriet) +14 laps
6th #31 Dragonspeed (Gonzalez/Maldonado/Davidson) +16 laps