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R01 - Sebring - FIA WEC Race Report

PREMA Racing claims podium finish in Sebring FIA WEC opener Edit Subject

R01 - Sebring - FIA WEC Race Report

PREMA Racing secured a brilliant podium finish in the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, the 1000 Miles of Sebring. Fielding two cars with all-new lineups for the first time, the team fought for victory until the very end and finished third with the #63 Oreca LMP2-class racecar driven by Mirko Bortolotti, Daniil Kvyat and Doriane Pin.

Kvyat started the car with a spirited drive and took advantage of a safety-car to make an early pit-stop. That vaulted the #63 car to victory contention. The offset strategy continued throughout the race, with Pin making a stellar debut and leading chunks of the middle phases. Unfortunately, the fuel offset, plus the lack of Full Course Yellow situations in the final stages, eventually made it impossible to reach the finish without a splash-and-go. Kvyat and Bortolotti made wonders to keep the pace and save fuel, but the Italian eventually had to dive in with a handful of minutes to go. When he re-emerged from the pit-lane, he was running third and held that same spot until the end of the 8-hour event.

Despite the missed chance for the win, starting from P10, the crew put up quick and really consistent runs, celebrating a positive result with two drivers, Kvyat and Pin, at their first LMP2 experiences.

The #9 car and the trio of Andrea Caldarelli, Filip Ugran and Bent Viscaal had a more challenging race. The start showed a blistering pace and the car was soon back in the hunt for the top-5 or maybe even a podium, using a different strategy compared to the sister one. Unfortunately, early contact damaged the front splitter, which impacted the final result. Caldarelli, Ugran and Viscaal eventually wrapped up P8.

However, the potential pace proved impressive, which already lays good foundations for the second round of the year in mid-April at Portimao and for the rest of the season.

#9 - Andrea Caldarelli
"It was a positive first weekend. It was the first time for me in LMP2 and WEC and it was not easy to jump straight in. I really enjoyed it though and the team did a really good job, working hard in the prologue and trying to put it together for the race. Unfortunately, today was not our day. We had a few issues at the pit stop which cost us a lot of time, and also contact with Filip that forced us to change the splitter. In addition, in my first two stints, we were missing part of the splitter so we couldn't really attack. Anyway, the sister car got a podium, really happy for them, they deserved it!"

#9 - Filip Ugran
"I am very happy with the pace we had and with the work done by the team. Unfortunately, a contact made at the beginning of the race cost us a better result. I’m taking away a lot of good things and I’m looking forward to round 2 with really high expectations. Thank you very much PREMA Racing for the hard work during the winter and especially the last 2 weeks here in Sebring!"

#9 - Bent Viscaal
"I'm very happy about the start of the race, the pace was great and we even moved up to P4. Even with cars on different strategies, I think we were not too far behind the leaders. We worked as a team to set up the car after qualifying, and we got it in the window. Then we lost a lot of time in a pit stop with Filip, and in my second stint I wasn't really happy with the car compared to the early one.  Still we move on, we learn, and I'm very happy that the team got the podium in the end with the 63 car. I would have liked to seize a higher result than this, but it was a combination of things that didn't work out for us today. We move forward to Portimao. A big thank you to the team for their support in my first race with PREMA."

#63 - Mirko Bortolotti
"I’d like to thank the entire team for a great job in the race. We fought ourselves back from the issues we had in quali with a strong run, and it’s a great start to the season with a podium finish at Sebring."

#63 - Danill Kvyat
"The race was very strong today from start to finish, and we all did a clean job with the team and my teammates. There is still work ahead to try and improve things to get to the top step of the podium. We have only one goal in our minds, and everyone in the team is looking forward to working towards that goal. But nonetheless, it was a very strong start!"

#63 - Doriane Pin
"I'm so so happy about what we achieved today, it's even hard to believe! It was an amazing experience to get a podium finish in my first LMP2 start with a very strong pace for the team. I enjoyed every lap, and I'm delighted to be part of this with PREMA and as an Iron Dame. It is a great start to the season, I look forward to the next races!"