Doran-Lista Dallara MG ...
Doran-Lista Dallara MG #27 will now start eighth overall and sixth in LMP900 Class tomorrow at Sebring.
SEBRING, Fla., March 14 - The Doran-Lista Dallara MG #27 has moved up three spots on the starting grid before tomorrow's Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring even starts.
What's more, it did it without turning a single Michelin-shod wheel.
Two Bentleys which initially qualified on the front row Thursday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway were relegated to the rear of the field due to technical infractions. American Le Mans Series (ALMS) officials said their rear diffusers didn't conform to the series' height specifications.
Also, the Intersport Lola of Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Michael Durand will have to go to the rear due to an infraction with its boost pressure monitor.
That moved the Doran-Lista team up to the eighth starting spot overall and sixth in the LMP 900 class for tomorrow's race. Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. will be behind the wheel of the Dallara at the green flag, which drops at 10:30 a.m., with Fredy Lienhard Sr. of Niederteufen, Switzerland and Eric van de Poele of St. Jean-Geest, Belgium sharing the driving duties in the 12-hour enduro.
The team's fastest lap in the Friday morning practice session was even faster than Theys qualified, as the red and white Dallara turned the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course in 1:51.937 during that session. There is one more practice session at 6:15 p.m. tonight.
Although it is still hot today, the current weather forecast is for a 70 percent chance of rain Saturday morning followed by cloudy skies in the afternoon.
"The car is much better today than it was yesterday," said Theys after the Friday morning practice session. "We didn't anticipate losing that much grip in the heat of qualifying. We have modified the car to account for the heat and the slippery track, and it is a good-handling car today. We have no problems with our set-up now."
Theys isn't worried about the possibility of rain.
"I'm pretty confident about our handling even if it does rain tomorrow," he said.
Lienhard was also very upbeat.
"Things are getting better and better," he said. "It was difficult for me to restart driving after six months off. I haven't had a lot of seat time, and I'm not going to catch up immediately. But every session I have gotten faster and I feel comfortable; it is coming automatically to me now again.
"I had to get used to the new brakes, which are different," Lienhard noted. "By making the car softer, it's more or less neutral and good to drive. The track will deteriorate over time tomorrow, but I think we have a very good car for the race."
Although he's driven more than 45 different race cars (and at least one bicycle) at more than 75 racetracks around the world, van de Poele had never driven a Dallara before this weekend.
He was impressed.
"It's a really good car," he said. "This has been a wonderful experience for me. I arrive and drive; Didier and the Doran-Lista team have already done all the set-up work. I just jump in the car and it's very good.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for me," van de Poele continued. "We have solved the little problems now, and I believe we have a nearly perfect car for the race. I will try to do my best to be deserving of this opportunity."
van de Poele isn't worried about the chance of rain either.
"Every difficult situation may help us in the long run, because we aren't the fastest here," he pointed out. "We will have to deal with the rain like everybody else, but I like to drive in the rain; it's no problem. And that could end up helping us."
The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel in America beginning at10 a.m. Eastern time and concluding at 11 p.m. It will be shown on a tape-delay basis at 20:00 Central European time on March 23. Coverage can also be heard live on the American Le Mans Series Radio Web at www.americanlemans.com.
In other news, the ALMS added a race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. on Sunday, June 29 to its schedule. It will be televised live by CBS. This replaces one of two events (Mexico City and Washington, D.C.) which were recently canceled.