Qualifying for Saturday’s 60th Anniversary, Mobil 1, 12 Hours of Sebring was held today and with little surprise in the overall standings, the diesel-powered Audi R18’s took the top three positions with the three fastest times. The cars qualified in car number-badged numerical order, with cars #1, #2 and #3 in grid positions 1, 2 and 3. Andre Lotterer (driving the #1 Audi R18 – pictured), the defending champion at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, showed what pace the cars could achieve with the overall and LMP1 class poles at 1:45.820.
Andre Lotterer (#1-P1 Audi R18) Overall pole winner, “This is my first time to the Sebring race, but not the Sebring track as we have tested here before. It is better to come here during the race weekend. This a little more action and it is great to see so many people. It is a great atmosphere. We were here in December for testing so we knew a little bit about the new front straight wall going into Turn 1. This is the last race for the R18 so it is an emotional car for the drivers as we move to the new Audi. It feels good to come to a legendary race like Sebring to compete with the car one more time. Hopefully the car will finish very nicely tomorrow for us. (On his stop-and-go penalty) I had a little stressful incident with the pit lane penalty. Usually the pit limiter is always on, but it wasn’t that time. That was my mistake for not noticing. It didn’t really make my life more difficult. The car ran great and I was able to get in a good lap. This pole is really nice for the staff as the guys work so hard to prepare for this race. This is a nice reward for the mechanics who work on the car. I wasn’t perfect at turns 13 and 15 so I didn’t think I would be that fast. You usually need a near perfect lap for the pole. Looks like the rest of the lap was better than I expected.”
While the Audi effort was dominating, the rest of the field of 64 cars would care to be mentioned so to that end, the other class poles featured Muscle Milk Pickett Racing (ALMS P1), OAK Racing (WEC LMP2), Level 5 Motorsports (ALMS P2), RSR Racing (ALMS PC), AF Corse (WEC GTE Pro), Corvette Racing (ALMS GT), Luxury Racing (WEC GTE Am) and NGT Motorsport (ALMS GTC).
Top three in class (overall position on the grid – in parentheses):
(1) #1-P1 Andre Lotterer (Audi R18) 1:45.820
(2) #2-P1 Tom Kristensen (Audi R18) 1:46.215 (0.395-)
(3) #3-P1 Romain Dumas (Audi R18) 1:46.935 (1.115-)
(11) #24-P2 Olivier Pla (Morgan/Judd) 1:50.467
(12) #44-P2 Stephane Sarrazin (HPD ARX-03b Honda) 1:50.823 (0.356-)
(13) #41-P2 Elton Julian (Zytek Z11SN-Nissan) 1:51.809 (1.342-)
(21) #9-PC Bruno Junqueira (Oreca FLM09) 1:54.510
(22) #06-PC E.J. Viso (Oreca FLM09) 1:54.555 (0.045-)
(24) #025-PC Dane Cameron (Oreca FLM09) 1:54.628 (0.118-)
(31) #51-GT Gianmaria Bruni (Ferrari F458 GT) 1:58.427
(32) #59-GT Jaime Melo (Ferrari F458 Italia) 1:58.723 (0.296-)
(33) #03-GT Jan Magnussen (Corvette C6-ZR1) 1:58.996 (0.569-)
(40) #58-GTE-AM Dominik Farnbacher (Ferrari F458 Italia) 2:00.184
(44) #57-GTE-AM Niclas Jonsson (Ferrari F458 Italia) 2:00.929 (0.745-)
(46) #50-GTE-AM Pedro Lamy (Corvette C6-ZR1) 2:01.640 (1.456-)
(52) #30-GTC Sean Edwards (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) 2:06.674
(53) #34-GTC Damien Faulkner (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) 2:06.697 (0.023-)
(54) #022-GTC Leh Keen (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) 2:06.711 (0.037-)
Much of the interest surrounded the performance of open-wheel focused drivers crossing over to get broader experience in this international endurance racing event.
Selected Post Qualifying Quotes:
Simon Pagenaud (#6-P1 HPD ARX-03a) “It was a good day overall. In the end, we placed the Muscle Milk HPD right behind the Audis and that’s very good. However, it was an interesting day trying to make the car work with the track. We tried different things and, by the end of the session, it was very positive. I think we’re heading in the right direction. I’m getting excited now. I think we have our finger on what we need to do and it’s coming together. It’s taking longer than we would like because the sessions are short. There are a lot of cars on track and there were a lot of red flags, which makes it very difficult for the team to get to try what they want to try. It’s especially frustrating for the engineers but everyone is doing a great job and I think we should be good for qualifying and Saturday for the race.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay (#95-P2 HPD ARX-03b) “This has been a driver’s dream week. Just in a race car almost every day. The old quote, “just living the dream” is my motto this week. Saturday and Monday I was here in the LMP2 sports car for Level 5, Tuesday and Wednesday in the IndyCar for Andretti at Barber Motorsports Park, Thursday, Friday and Saturday back at Sebring for practice, qualifying and the race. Next Wednesday, I’ll be at St. Pete for the IndyCar Series opener. I can’t wait to get started in the IndyCars. I feel very fortunate and appreciative that I am able to drive these sports cars as well as the IndyCars. It keeps me sharp in the cockpit. I feel fresh going into St. Pete next week. I love coming back and racing with Level 5. It is a great team. It’s a great environment and it is becoming routine to come to Sebring each year. I really enjoy Sebring. It is my home track and we are looking to defend our win from last year (in LMP2).
Bruno Junqueira (#9-PC Oreca FLM09) Pole winner in PC, “This pole gives our team some good morale for this race. The team told me to be patient and bring the car home and we will be fine. This is the first time I have driven this car. I love it. (Adjusting to PC) On the first lap, I felt the brakes and they were great. They really worked well. So I said, ‘Hey, it’s race time. So let’s go.’ And the car was great. Now, we are ready for the race. It should be exciting. It feels really good and I can’t explain how happy I am to be here with an equal car and chance to fight for pole and today I have to thank our team for giving me the opportunity. Today I knew if I drove good, I would get a shot and every lap I got better. I was very happy.”
E.J. Viso (#06-PC Oreca FLM09) “I’m very excited to be here. This is something that was very last minute. I just got a call last week asking if I wanted to do this race and, of course, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I know one part of the track here at Sebring, the back section (from IndyCar testing). The rest of the track was
completely new to me. And racing these cars is also new to me. So far I am having a blast. This race has a great atmosphere here. I have seen a lot of familiar faces from my days of racing in Europe. I am having a lot of fun and I hope this will be the first of many here at Sebring. There are fans and motorhomes everywhere around this track. It is fun to see.”
Jonathon Summerton (#56-GT BMW E92 M3) “It is awesome to be here in this race. The BMW RLL team have been so helpful. I’m very honored to be here with them and hopefully we can go for a win. It’s a great group of guys. Right now, I am running in four ALMS races this year. I’m filling in for Joey (Hand) when he goes to the DMT series. After that, it is wherever BMW North American or BMW Motorsport want me. I want to be affiliated with a manufacturer and BMW is just the best. It is a thrill to be here.”
… notes from The EDJE
** Article first published as It’s Audi R18 Diesel 1-2-3 Overall at 2012 Sebring Qualifications on Technorati **