The 1000 Miles of Sebring was the starting point of Matteo Cairoli’s 2023 campaign in the FIA World Endurance Championship, where the driver from Como races at the wheel of Project 1 AO’s Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Am category. The opening round of the series was definitely a challenge for Cairoli, with the notorious difficulties of the famous American track and an unlucky race to go with them, too, where he finished 12th in class.
Racing with Americans PJ Hyett and Gunnar Jeannette, Cairoli was the fastest man in the #56 Porsche in the three free practice sessions with a 1:59.632 – but it was Hyett who took part in qualifying, where he finished sixth in class, and he started the race on Friday.
Cairoli was back in the car after two hours and 40 minutes, and during his 65-minute stint he set the team’s personal best lap with a 1:59.497, showing great pace worthy of his Pro driver status and gained back the time Hyett had lost due to two unfortunate spins. With roughly two hours to go, however, Project 1 AO’s race was compromised after a Hypercar rear-ended Jeannette and spun him around. The hefty damage to the rear of the car kept the team in the pits for a long time, and after a rear wing change Cairoli was back in the car and rejoined the race at the back of the pack. Despite a car far from its best shape, Matteo gave it his all before giving the car back to Jeannette, who drove to the finish line of the 1000 Miles of Sebring for Project 1 AO.
With the US round in the books – which started with testing during the official Prologue – the next round of the FIA WEC will see Cairoli race in Portugal, with the 6 Hours of Portimao set to start on the 16th April.
“The result doesn’t show our true potential, which we demonstrated during practice and qualifying. We were fighting for a good finish in the GTE-Am class, which has an even more competitive field this season, but Gunnar’s unfortunate incident with a Hypercar ultimately put an end to our hopes of a good result. After our stop we gave it our best as always, because in endurance racing you never know what could happen, and despite everything we managed to get some more mileage out of the car, with more data and experience that will be very helpful in Portimao, the next round of the season. We can’t wait to bounce back from this race”.