Several breaking news items happened in the overnight and early Saturday morning in advance of this morning's 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
HEYLEN IN AT CONQUEST – A last-minute replacement has happened at Conquest Endurance, with Jan Heylen stepping in to replace Francesco Dracone.
Heylen, the Belgian who drove for Eric Bachelart's Conquest Champ Car team in 2007, was drafted in and ran the morning warm-up. Bachelart said Dracone is sick and not up to the rigors of a 12-hour race, and Heylen was granted a waiver to drive despite not having taken part in Thursday's night practice.
Martin Plowman will start, with Heylen and David Heinemeier Hansson likely to follow.
FALKEN SCRAMBLING – Team Falken Tire will have a frantic period to fix its car. The team tweeted just after warm-up: "The #17Porsche suffered a mechanical in the final laps of the warm-up. Falken crew is rushing to fix the car for the start."
LEVEL 5 WILL START, GULF 29 WON'T – Level 5 Motorsports will start from the rear with its No. 055 HPD ARX-03b after the team worked late into the night to repair its damaged car. A spare engine cover was made available via HPD to help the team. Christophe Bouchut, Joao Barbosa and team principal Scott Tucker will drive the car.
Meanwhile, Lola has confirmed the No. 29 Gulf Racing Middle East Lola Nissan won't start, but the team's No. 28 that had an accident on Thursday will, having been rebuilt. The No. 28 lineup that will race includes Stefan Johansson, Maxime Jousse and Fabien Giroix, while the sidelined No. 29 takes Frederic Fatien, Keiko Ihara and Jean-Denis Deletraz (last-minute replacement for Jan Charouz) out of the race. That drops the number of starters to 63.
MOBIL 1 RE-UPS SPONSORSHIP – Sebring title sponsor Mobil 1 announced Saturday morning it has extended title sponsorship through 2015. This is the 18thh consecutive year ExxonMobil has been the title sponsor of the event.
“ExxonMobil is proud to continue the association of the Mobil 1 motor oil brand to one of America's truly great racing events,” said Tim Hinchman, sales director, Strategic Global Alliances, Mobil 1. “With the majority of the cars on the Sebring track using Mobil 1 motor oil, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring brings together some of the best fans, race teams, manufacturers, drivers and sponsors in the automotive world. Furthermore, this partnership greatly enhances some of our most esteemed OEM relationships.”
AJR RECEIVES ITS LOTUS – Another bit of history passes into the sunset when the checkered flag drops on Saturday night. It's the last scheduled race, for now, for Alex Job Racing to run a No. 23 Porsche.
Although technically the car is No. 023 this race per a conflict with a WEC entrant, the historic AJR number will carry over to its new Lotus Evora. A team official confirmed AJR received its Lotus on Friday and will begin work on the car on Sunday leading into its race debut next month at Long Beach.
DYSON HOPEFUL OF MORE EXPANSION – Earlier this week, Dyson Racing announced its second car, the 2011 championship winning Lola B09/86 Mazda coupe, to return to action starting at Long Beach with drivers Eric Lux and Michael Marsal.
Team sporting director and lead driver Chris Dyson said he's “hopeful” of adding a third car post the Le Mans 24 Hours, where both of its new Lola B12/60 Mazdas will have been built up and prepared for the race. The team's second tub is a rolling spare this weekend.