Sebring: Bentley qualifying report

Bentley Boys Qualify One and Two at Sebring Sebring, March 13, 2003 . . . The Bentley Boys are making a statement with their return to motor racing in North America after 81 years, by qualifying first and second for the 51st running of the ...

Bentley Boys Qualify One and Two at Sebring

Sebring, March 13, 2003 . . . The Bentley Boys are making a statement with their return to motor racing in North America after 81 years, by qualifying first and second for the 51st running of the 12-Hours of Sebring.

Johnny Herbert, driving the number eight Bentley Speed 8, qualified the newly designed car on pole with a time of 1:48.210 and a speed of 123-mph (198 kph). With a temperature of nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 centigrade), Herbert was able to best a strong front pack of prototypes including the previous all conquering Audis to take the number one position. Herbert posted the pole time on his fifth lap with pressure coming from teammate Rinaldo "Dindo" Capello.

Driving the number seven Bentley, Dindo Capello qualified second with a time of 1:48.129, completing the all green front row. Capello held the pole for a time following his first lap at speed before being eclipsed by Herbert.

The front of the field is comprised of a strong group of cars with less than two seconds separating the top seven positions.

Quotes after qualifying:

Johnny Herbert, Bentley #8: "I had a big accident in Spain which set back our testing schedule. The crew has done a wonderful job to get the car together. This is my first pole in the ALMS and my first since my Formula 3000 days, so it feels really good. We made a change with the tires from the morning and the car responded well. An all Bentley front row looks good to me."

Mark Blundell, Bentley #8: "Two cars on the front row is a fantastic qualifying result for Bentley. I haven't really had much time in the car, so I will get a little more in the night practice this evening. I will have to put my head down and get the job done. The heat will be a factor. The team has done a good job to try and alleviate the cockpit temperature, but that will be a factor for us Saturday."

David Brabham, Bentley #8: "For the Bentley team to be one and two is a fantastic effort. The car is obviously showing its speed. We have not done a race distance with the car, so we are going into it as a little bit of an unknown. We need to be able to run consistently fast, with the narrower rear tires that makes it a little difficult. It will be a very close race between us, the Audis and Dyson who will be up there as well."

Tom Kristensen, Bentley #7: "Having both cars on the front row proves that the Bentley is not only beautiful, but very fast as well. We are going to need a lot of stamina from the drivers to compensate for the heat. In addition, we will have to be aggressive because we have proven cars behind us, but not too aggressive because we have to take care of our narrower tires.

Rinaldo Capello, Bentley #7: The car was very good. I was close to Johnny, but he put in a really fast lap. The car is improved from yesterday to today, we had to fix a couple of problems, but the car is very comfortable to drive. I am very happy with the performance and this gives a lot of confidence for the race on Saturday.

Guy Smith, Bentley #7: "An all Bentley front row is a perfect start to their return to racing here in America. Dindo did a good job, he qualified second here last year as well. I've had a good number of laps so far this week, but it is difficult to find a rhythm with a 40-car field. We need to have a clean race and not make contact with any of the slower cars."

John Wickham, team director: "We are a little bit surprised with our all front row. We are here with a car that we haven't run that much being a totally new package. Both drivers' are very competitive, Dindo is very fast and obviously Johnny did a fantastic job to get pole. We have yet to run a race distance with this new car either in Europe or here. So the race will be a little bit of a finding out session, but a great test for Le Mans."

The 12-Hours of Sebring will start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and will be televised live on Speed Channel starting at 10:00 a.m. EST.

-br-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Tom Kristensen , Guy Smith , Mark Blundell , Dindo Capello