A new track record was just one of the highlights from the Qualifying Rounds leading into the 61st Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. And, when the green flag dropped at 10:30 a.m. EST on March 16, 2013, 42 entries across five classes – P1, P2, PC, GT and GTC – have their sights set on making history their own at one of America’s oldest circuits: Sebring International Raceway.
Swiss driver Marcel Fassler drove the #1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron Quattro to a fastest lap time of 1:43.886 in the P1 class, marking both a new track record and the first time a hybrid-powered prototype will be on pole for the 12 Hours of Sebring. P1s are highly-engineered racing machines that can accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in four seconds. Fassler was making 129.604 mph when he won the coveted pole position.
“It was a really tight battle for the pole but my car was really great today, so I knew I could do it,” said Fassler. “This was my first time qualifying here at Sebring and this track is not the easiest track to go for a quick lap because it’s really bumpy. You need a really clear lap with no mistakes in order to get the best time. I had a really good lap but it was only .009 of a second faster than our#2 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro. It’s really cool to be on pole.”
Driving the #551 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b, Australian driver Ryan Briscoe won the P2 pole with a time of 1:51.159.
“It’s really satisfying for the crew and all the team when they see that their preparation pays off as their two cars are going head-to-head for the pole,” said Briscoe after taking his first career Sebring pole. “It was really good, really fun. I love this track. It is especially good to be starting the race with our team starting in first and second place on the grid. It’s been pretty difficult as usual here because we have had rain earlier in the week. The tire we’re using this year is not as sticky as it was in the past so we have been working on the balance of the car to get it to perform well and constantly on this tire. Having good speed on this hard tire is going play into our favor for the race. It feels good to know we have speed on our competitors and it gives us confidence knowing we don’t have to do anything drastic before the race.”
Pole position in the PC (Prototype Challenge) class was won by Colin Braun (Ovalo, Texas) with a time of 1:54.338 at the wheel of the #05 CORE Autosport ORECA FLM09. Not only was Braun’s time a class record, it was as well for the three PC cars that followed him.
“Congratulations to our Core Autosport team,” said Braun. “They’re the ones who worked so hard this off season to take some weight off our car and found a few ways here and there to make the car faster. It has been fun getting used to the new Continental tires and that has been a big part of everybody’s learning this week. It’s going to be a great race with the co-drivers that I have – Jonathan Bennett and Mark Wilkins – and the crew we have behind us so I believe we’re going to have a good race.
Gianmaria Bruni in the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia won the GT pole with a time of 1:58.815.
“It was a very close battle for the whole session, great competition,” said Bruni. “I am very happy to be back here in Sebring after one year away. We have worked very hard for this pole position today but tomorrow is another day and I hope we will go home having accomplished our goal.”
The GTC pole was won by three-time Rolex Sports Car Series champion, Andy Lally (Atlanta, Ga.) in the #27 Dempsey Del Piero Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with a time of 2:05.446.
“It was a welcome pole,” said Lally. “I did one hot lap and I came into the pits to try to cool the tires off and went out again and the Porsche was great. This is the first time for the team running a Porsche and our first qualification in a Porsche so this is a really great way to start the weekend!”
Equally enthusiastic was team owner Patrick Dempsey who co-drives the #27 with Joe Foster (Suwanee, Ga.).
“It’s really great to come out here and get the pole for Tully’s Coffee; it’s a great way to start the season,” said Dempsey. “The crew has been thrashing for the last month preparing for this race. It’s hard work and they have done a great job. The GTC class will certainly be the most competitive group of cars out there which makes it both fun and challenging. It’s going be an exciting race to watch. Having Andy Lally and Andrew Davis helping with the coaching has helped a great deal. There’s great history here at Sebring. This is a phenomenal track and I’m having a great time… I feel lucky to be racing here. I had some butterflies last night before I got in the car, but after I went out, came in and then went back out, the car really felt much better the second time I went out.”
“This will definitely be the most competitive class in ALMS” said Michael Avenatti (Los Angeles, Calif.), who drives the #10 Dempsey Del Piero Racing entry. “If you look at the quality of the drivers and the quality of the teams, it’s a first rate effort. We have 11 cars in our field for this race and I think we will have a lot of cars in our group for the rest of the season so when you look at the depth of the field you can’t help being impressed. It’s going to be a fight for every tenth of a second, every point and every podium finish, it’s going to make for one heck of a championship.”
The 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón began with the 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on Mar. 11-16. Green flag for the 12 Hours of Sebring was at 10:45 a.m. ET on Saturday, Mar. 16. SPEED's live coverage begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.
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