Bentleys dominate Sebring qualifying

Bentleys dominate Sebring qualifying

SEBRING, Fla. -- The Bentley Boys made a smashing return to American motor racing this afternoon, as Johnny Herbert's sleek, low-slung Bentley Speed 8 captured the pole for Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring. Herbert, who won last year's race behind...

SEBRING, Fla. -- The Bentley Boys made a smashing return to American motor racing this afternoon, as Johnny Herbert's sleek, low-slung Bentley Speed 8 captured the pole for Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring. Herbert, who won last year's race behind the wheel of a factory Audi, will share the driving duties in Saturday's race with David Brabham and Mark Blundell.

#8 Team Bentley Bentley Speed 8: Johnny Herbert, David Brabham, Mark Blundell.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
"We are very pleased and surprised," said Herbert. "We had a good balance and we tried some new things that worked pretty well. It was a great drive."

And if grabbing the pole was not enough for the Bentley squad, Herbert's teammate, Rinaldo Capello, turned the second fastest lap of the 25-minute qualifying session.

Herbert and Capello's internecine duel for fast lap supremacy forced the Audis of Frank Biela and Emmanuelle Pirro to settle for third and fourth, respectively.

The Dyson Racing Lola-MG of James Weaver was fifth overall and first in the LMP 675 class, followed by the Audi UK entry of Mika Salo and the LMP 675 entry of John Nielsen.

In GTS, Oliver Gavin led a Corvette sweep of qualifying, narrowly edging out teammate Johnny O'Connell for class honors. Gavin, who is now a full-time Corvette factory driver after two years of sporadic duty in the endurance events, took advantage of sticky new tires and traffic free conditions to claim his second career ALMS pole.

"We've got the car really tuned in," Gavin said after setting a new qualifying record. "The engineers at Corvette Racing put a great car together for us today. Goodyear gave us some great tires, and despite the heat -- which is always a bit of a gamble when it comes to set-up -- we ran really well."

Gavin has had tremendous success at Sebring in the past two years, taking two wins and two poles since making his debut here in 2001. Nevertheless, he and his Corvette teammates, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim, expect stiff competition from the Prodrive Ferraris, which qualified third and fourth in class. The Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7R rounded out the top-five.

Twenty-two-year-old Timo Bernhard captured his first career GT class pole in the No. 24 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3-RS. Bernhard, a rising star who will split the driving duties on Saturday with Jorg Bergmeister, won his first ALMS race last year at Road America. He also co-drove to the overall victory in this year's 24 Hours of Daytona with Bergmeister, Kevin Buckler, and Michael Schrom. Alex Job Racing has won three of the last four races at Sebring, and they just missed out on a one-two finish last year when Bernhard's car expired with 40 minutes remaining.

The Orbit Porsche of Marc Lieb will start second, followed by three-time GT class winner Lucas Luhr in the second Alex Job entry, Niclas Jonsson in the White Lightning Petersen Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-RS, and Terry Borcheller in the Risi Competizione Ferrari.

*Please see the following for times disallowed:
Audi now has the pole at Sebring

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