Sebring 12 Hours – LMP1 and LMP2 Qualifying Report

470_audi_motorsport-130314-1625Audi Sport Team Joest will start the 61st running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida from pole position. In the final LMP1 qualifying ever at the Sebring International Raceway Audi R18 e-tron quattro drivers Allan McNish and Marcel Fässler battled each other for pole position. The World Champion won the fight, albeit just.

The #1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fässler was the first car to set a competitive lap time, but it was Fässler’s teammate in the #2 Audi, Allan McNish, who was the first to dip into the 1:44s. Rebellion Racing’s Nick Heidfeld was third fastest early in the session, albeit almost two seconds slower than McNish.

After three timed laps both Audi’s were in the 1:44s and a lap later Fässler put the #1 car back in provisional pole position after setting a 1:43.886. The Swiss driver pitted the next time by. McNish stayed on track, improved his time but was still 0.009s slower than his teammate. The #2 pitted on the next lap and ended the session behind its sister car.

Marcel Fässler: “It was really tight battle for the pole. My car was already really great yesterday so I knew I could do it. It was my first pole qualifying at Sebring. As everyone knows it not easy to go for Pole at this track. It is bumpy and easy to make a lot of mistakes, so the key is make as little as possible. It was so close with Allan, only 9 thousandths of a second. It was a great session.”

Nick Heidfeld finished qualifying in third place, 2.57s behind Fässler. The Rebellion Racing driver was two hundredths of a second quicker than his compatriot Klaus Graf in the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c. Another two tenths of a second further down the line it was the second Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60 of Andrea Belicchi in fifth place.

In LMP2 Tom Kimber-Smith in the Dunlop-shod Zytek Z11SN Nissan had set the fastest lap early in the session, but the Greaves Motorsport driver was unable to keep the two Level 5 Motorsports HPDs behind him. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe soon moved up into first and second for Scott Tucker’s team. The gap between first and third in P2 after five timed laps just under a tenth of a second with Hunter-Reay taking provisional pole.

Briscoe and Hunter-Reay kept fighting for the remaining minutes of the qualifying session and it was the Australian who beat his American teammate with just a minute remaining in the session – the gap just a couple of thousandths of a second. Briscoe continued to improve once again and managed a 1:51.159 as the LMP2 pole time. Tom Kimber Smith finished the session in third place, just two tenths of a second behind Briscoe.

Olivier Pla in the DeltaWing LM12 only managed to lap the track in 1:53.866. This means the DeltaWing will start from 15th on the grid, behind the LMPC top three.