Qualifying is in the books for Saturday's 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. As expected, Audi scored the overall pole, with other class poles going to 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).
LMP – As could be expected, the question in qualifying at Sebring wasn't whether an Audi would be on pole, but rather, which one of its three R18 TDIs would do so. When all was said and done the cars qualified in numerical order, with cars 1, 2 and 3 in positions 1, 2 and 3.
Andre Lotterer (LEFT), the defending champion at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, showed what pace the cars could achieve with the overall and LMP1 poles at 1:45.820. Tom Kristensen and Romain Dumas completed the Audi sweep. Lotterer discussed his initial race weekend at Sebring, having only tested at the track before.
“It's not a huge change going through Turn 1 now compared to earlier,” he said. “There are other difficulties to deal with. For us drivers, it's very emotional to sign off this car. It won Le Mans and it's legendary to compare with that.”
Klaus Graf kept HPD as best of the rest, with the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing driver tops among ALMS competitors at 1:47.536 in the ARX-03a. The time represented a lap two seconds quicker than the fastest non-diesel lap last year, when Graf qualified Muscle Milk's Lola Aston Martin. OAK Racing, which has been among the quickest non-diesel cars all week, completed the top five in the hands of Guillaume Moreau.
Olivier Pla made OAK's day better than expected to begin with when he snatched the LMP2 pole near the end of its session. The Frenchman took the team's Morgan Judd just ahead of Starworks' HPD ARX-03b driven by ex-Peugeot man Stephane Sarrazin.
Meanwhile, the fastest ALMS P2 entry, another HPD ARX-03b in the hands of Christophe Bouchut for Level 5 Motorsports, will face an uphill battle just to make the grid. An accident toward the end of the session may set the team back, as team manager David Stone acknowledged a shortage of spare parts, rather than a lack of time, would be the challenge for the team into the overnight. The Level 5 HPD was sixth fastest of all the P2 entrants, behind five WEC LMP2 cars.
The battle in PC was a fascinating one with most of the cars separated by only a few tenths throughout, before one part-time and one current IndyCar driver set the bar. Bruno Junqueira and E.J. Viso snuck in ahead of Silicon Tech/Dempsey Racing's Dane Cameron to nab the front row starting positions.
Junqueira, driving for RSR Racing and which has Genoa Racing technical support including team manager Thomas Knapp, took the car to pole in the team's first class start.
“It feels really good, and it's great to see how the team looks,” Junqueira said. “It's great for morale.”
“Two weeks ago, this wasn't even a program, and only eight days ago, it was,” added Tomy Drissi, Junqueira's co-driver and two-time winner in class a year ago. “We got here on Monday and had a very short time to catch up on what everyone else has done.”
GT – It took a sub-2-minute lap to get on pole in the GT ranks. Ferrari was the first manufacturer to clock in that range, with Jaime Melo of Luxury Racing down to a 1:58.723 the quickest of three cars. That didn't last long as his former Risi Competizione Ferrari teammate, Gianmaria Bruni, beat him by three tenths.
Bruni's pole is his second in a row at Sebring, and an upgrade for AF Corse as he ran to pole in a Ferrari 430 last year and this year was in the team's 458. His time of 1:58.427 is a GT track record at Sebring.
“I didn't even tell my engineer I almost lost the car,” Bruni said. “I stopped 2cm close to the tire walls. Thought it was finished. I was faster and faster. I was minus three tenths on the dash, then pushed even further.”
Melo was second ahead of the two factory Corvettes (Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin), the two fastest ALMS entries, with the former Corvette driver Olivier Beretta fifth in the second AF Corse Ferrari. Joey Hand's BMW was the only other car under two minutes, in sixth. Jorg Bergmeister had the fastest Porsche time, in eighth.
Dominik Farnbacher was the first driver to break the Sebring GT track record, clocking a 2:00.184 in his Ferrari 458, a 2011-spec car, in the GTE Am category. The German hot shoe snared the pole in class by seven tenths of a second over Nic Jonsson in another Ferrari, this one the lime green Krohn Racing entry.
“It's gonna be insane,” Farnbacher surmised. “There's never been this many cars. In the night sessions, and ones before, you look way more in the back mirror than in front of you.”
Sean Edwards, the Porsche Supercup ace, ended Leh Keen's two-year pole streak at Sebring in GTC, with pole in the MOMO NGT Motorsport entry. Edwards at 2:06.674 led Damien Faulkner in the Green Hornet Porsche and Keen in one of two Alex Job Porsches in class.
Overall, only three of the 64 cars entered – all P2 entries with Black Swan Racing and the two Gulf Racing Middle East Lola Nissans – did not set a representative time. The race goes green at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time
1. P1 Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler Audi 1m45.820s
2. P1 McNish/Kristensen/Capello Audi 1m46.215s
3. P1 Bernhard/Dumas/Duval Audi 1m46.935s
4. P1 Luhr/Graf/Pagenaud Pickett HPD 1m47.536s
5. P1 Brabham/Chandhok/Dumbreck JRM HPD 1m48.439s
6. P1 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD 1m48.590s
7. P1 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld Rebellion Lola-Toyota 1m48.630s
8. P1 Belicchi/Primat/Bleekemolen Rebellion Lola-Toyota 1m48.956s
9. P1 Collard/Boullion/Jousse Pescarolo-Judd 1m50.200s
10. P2 Nicolet/Lahaye/Pla OAK Morgan-Judd 1m50.467s
11. P2 Potolicchio/Dalziel/Sarrazin Starworks HPD 1m50.823s
12. P2 Zugel/Gonzalez/Julian Greaves Zytek-Nissan 1m51.809s
13. P2 Tresson/Mailleux/Lombard Signatech ORECA-Nissan 1m52.084s
14. P2 Martin/Kerr/Graves ADR-Delta ORECA-Nissan 1m52.113s
15. P2 Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa Level 5 HPD 1m52.129s
16. P2 Plowman/Hansson/Dracone Conquest Morgan-Judd 1m52.493s
17. P2 Tucker/Diaz/Hunter-Reay Level 5 HPD 1m52.659s
18. P2 Companc/Kaffer/Ayari Pecom ORECA-Nissan 1m52.763s
19. P2 Holzer/Shultis/Moro Lotus Lola 1m53.080s
20. PC Junqueira/Drissi/Gonzalez RSR FLM 1m54.510s
21. PC Popow/Viso/Friselle CORE FLM 1m54.555s
22. P1 Dyson/Smith/Kane Dyson Lola-Mazda 1m54.593s
23. PC Richard/Ende/Cameron Dempsey FLM 1m54.628s
24. PC Ducote/Echeverria/Sanchez Merchant FLM 1m55.160s
25. PC Bennett/Braun/Lux CORE FLM 1m55.208s
26. PC Guasch/Gidley/Wills Pickett FLM 1m55.420s
27. PC Leitzinger/Dobson/Junco PR1 FLM 1m55.460s
28. PC Marcelli/Downs/Stirling Merchant FLM 1m55.654s
29. PC Nicolosi/Vera/Matos Performance Tech FLM 1m55.848s
30. GT Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari 1m58.427s
31. GT Makowiecki/Melo/Vernay Luxury Ferrari 1m58.723s
32. GT Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor Corvette 1m58.996s
33. GT Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette 1m59.007s
34. GT Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci AF Corse Ferrari 1m59.084s
35. GT Hand/Müller/Summerton RLL BMW 1m59.776s
36. GT Sharp/van Overbeek/Cosmo Extreme Speed Ferrari 2m00.094s
37. GT Bergmeister/Long/Holzer Flying Lizard Porsche 2m00.119s
38. GT Mucke/Fernandez/Turner Aston Martin 2m00.174s
39. GTE-AM Ehret/Farnbacher/Jakubowski Luxury Ferrari 2m00.184s
40. GT Lietz/Lieb/Pilet Felbermayr Porsche 2m00.256s
41. GT Müller/Auberlen/Alzen RLL BMW 2m00.337s
42. GT Brown/Segal/Lazzaro Extreme Speed Ferrari 2m00.344s
43. GTE-AM Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Krohn Ferrari 2m00.929s
44. GT Henzler/Sellers/Ragginger Falken Porsche 2m01.632s
45. GTE-AM Bornhauser/Canal/Lamy Larbre Corvette 2m01.640s
46. GTE-AM Ried/Roda/Ruberti Felbermayr Porsche 2m01.787s
47. GT Miller/Maassen/Bell Miller Porsche 2m02.150s
48. GTE-AM Bourret/Gibon/Belloc Larbre Corvette 2m02.732s
49. GTE-AM Kauffman/Waltrip/Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 2m03.331s
50. GTE-AM Binnie/Palttala/Camathias JWA-Avila Porsche 2m04.342s
51. GTC Cisneros/Edwards/Kauffmann NGT Porsche 2m06.674s
52. GTC LeSaffre/Faulkner/Bleekemolen Green Hornet Porsche 2m06.697s
53. GTC MacNeil/Keen/Dumoulin Alex Job Porsche 2m06.711s
54. GTC Sweedler/Bell/von Moltke Alex Job Porsche 2m07.016s
55. GTC Cumming/Bullitt/Estre JDX Porsche 2m07.264s
56. GT Law/Neiman/Lally Flying Lizard Porsche 2m07.354s
57. GTC Benitez/Benitez/Thiim NGT Porsche 2m07.434s
58. GTC Pumpelly/di Guida/Bunting TRG Porsche 2m07.550s
59. GTC Sofronas/Welch/Villineuve GMC Porsche 2m08.607s
60. GTC Faieta/Avenatti/Wagner Competition Porsche 2m08.792s
61. P2 Pappas/Curtis/Fogarty Black Swan Lola-HPD 2m35.156s
62. P2 Fatien/Ihara/Deletraz Gulf Lola-Nissan
63. P2 Giroix/Jousse/Johansson Gulf Lola-Nissan
64. P1 Moreau/Baguette/Kraihamer OAK Pescarolo-Judd