"It feels so great it's hard to believe!" - In a stellar debut, Doriane Pin was a couple of minutes away from a win at the 1000 Miles of Sebring, when a splash-and-go resulted in an equally extraordinary third place in LMP2.
Dorian Pin, 19, displayed once again her extraordinary talent on the world stage at the FIA WEC season opener, where the young French driver drove to class podium at the 1000 Miles of Sebring. At LMP2 debut, Pin was immediately up to pace in the WEC Prologue on the weekend leading up to the race, where she was faster than her two Platinum-ranked teammates in the #63 Prema Racing Oreca 07. The team is looking like a serious championship contender, with often less than a tenth of a second between the three drivers - Doriane Pin, Lamborghini factory driver Mirko Bortolotti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat. At the Prologue, Pin completed the third session second fastest - and would end the WEC Prologue with the third fastest lap of the aggregate results - only two tenths behind Filipe Albuquerque and Robert Kubica, out of the 36 drivers of the LMP2 class. She then carried momentum into practice, where she led FP1. Unfortunately, an issue in qualifying left Daniil Kvyat in P10 in class, which forced the trio to a recovery in the opening stint of the race. Kvyat took the start in the #63 Oreca and held tenth place in the opening minutes, before a Safety Car - the sole of the race - was deployed for the big accident of the #83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari of Luis Perez Companc on lap 4. The #23 United Autosport Oreca driven by Jarvis led the class field. On lap 9, while under Safety Car, a few teams opted to pit early for fuel. Among them was the Prema Racing crew, which exploited the opportunity for a free stop, but went off sequence in its pit strategy. The #41 WRT - which had stayed out - moved up in the class lead with Robert Kubica at the wheel. In between the rounds of pit stops, in fact, the #63 Prema cycled from second place to eighth place. After a few Full Course Yellows, the #48 JOTA emerged as a race winning contender. On lap 48, Daniil Kvyat pitted and handed over to Doriane Pin, who started her first ever stint in LMP2 from seventh place in class.
Pin found herself just behind the sister #9 Prema car; almost half a second faster, Pin quickly closed the gap and battled in a three-car group with Filip Ugran and Rui Andrade. Doriane managed to get ahead of the #9 Prema and advanced to fourth place once Ferdinand Habsburg took over the #31 WRT. While not in traffic, Pin was among the fastest in class and pitted for her first fuel stop on lap 88. The long-time leading #23 United Autosport Oreca had meanwhile come to a halt on track and Josh Pierson's car had to be retrieved during the fourth Full Course Yellow of the race. Over the next stint, Pin would move into the class lead, just before completing her 2-hour driving shift and handing over to Mirko Bortolotti. The different pit strategies for the leading LMP2 teams meant that positions changed at the top, but a very strong stint by LMP2 rookie David Beckmann brought back the #48 JOTA in the lead, before the German handed the wheel to Ye Yifei. After a full Course Yellow at the 5 hour mark, Bortolotti completed his single stint and Daniil Kvyat was back in the car, now steadily in third place. A brilliant battle for fifth was also entertaining the public: Inter Europol's Fabio Scherer was trying to put pressure on WRT's Robin Frijns, but lost touch with the Dutchman after running into traffic and had to defend from Phil Hanson. On lap 188, Mirko Bortolotti took over once again for the final hour; the #63 Prema was sitting in second place, 30 seconds behind the leading #48 JOTA of Will Stevens. With no more cautions, the LMP2 field had the task to save fuel - and Stevens knew that without a FCY, he would have to refuel. With 9 minutes to go, Will Steven took the way of the pit lane and handed the race lead to the #63 Prema Oreca of Bortolotti. The Italian, though, wasn't safe on fuel either and, with 2 minutes to go, he eventually had to pit for a splash and go as well. JOTA (Beckmann/Ye/Stevens) took victory in the first round of the season, preceding the #22 United Autosport (Lubin/Hanson/Albuquerque) and the #63 Prema Racing (Kvyat/Bortolotti/Pin). In her debut in prototypes, Doriane Pin was two laps short of a first historic win, and still secured an equally impressive podium. "I'm so, so happy about what we achieved today, it feels so great it's hard to believe!", Doriane said. "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, and I look forward to the next races!" Until the latter stages, Pin remained for most of the 8-hour race the fastest of the trio. Her performance was a testament to her talent and hard work battling against some of the top drivers in the world. Pin proved she can be an important asset for the team, in what looks like one of the strongest LMP2 line ups of the 2023 FIA WEC season.