Sébastien Bourdais and Action Express Racing picked up right where they left off after winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona by setting the fastest lap Thursday on the opening day of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship testing at Sebring International Raceway.
Bourdais drove the No. 5 Corvette DP around Sebring’s historic 3.74-mile road course in 1:52.480 (119.701 mph), topping Gustavo Yacaman’s No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan/Nissan by 0.724 seconds in the final minutes of the afternoon session. The two-day winter test is preparation for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida on Saturday, March 15, the second round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
““We’re still trying to sort through the balance and the new aero configuration,” Bourdais said, “but we just kind of nailed it and were able to put down a really good lap at the end of the session. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going.”
If Action Express Racing can indeed build off that momentum and win next month at Sebring, the victory would put the team in elite company.
Only four teams have won overall with the same car at both Daytona and Sebring in the same season, the last coming in 1998 when Moretti Racing won both events with a Ferrari 333SP. The merger between the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón has resulted in the two events being on the same schedule for the first time since 1997.
Yacaman led the morning session and the majority of the afternoon before Bourdais blistered the field in the closing moments. There are few tracks Yacaman knows better than Sebring and it showed, as he consistently posted times quicker than his P-class counterparts.
“I have close to one million laps on the club circuit here,” Yacaman said. ”Sebring has always been one of my favorite tracks. Today was my first time driving the full track, and it’s even more amazing than the course I’m used to. It’s very hard, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Three cars among two teams took time in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class. Tom Kimber-Smith drove the No. 25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 to the top spot in the morning session with a lap of 1:55.940 (116.129 mph). That time held up for the remainder of the day over the pair of BAR1 Motorsports entries.
8Star Motosports co-driver Roberto LaRocca also had an incident at the end of the morning session, but the crew was able to repair the car, allowing Kimber-Smith to also post the top time in the afternoon session at 1:56.561 (115.510 mph).
TUDOR Championship testing concludes Friday with a morning session from 9:30 a.m.-noon ET and an afternoon session from 2:45-5 p.m. ET.
Photo: Marcel ten Caat