Marc Lieb earned valuable championship points in the American Le Mans Series season opener, but he did it the hard way. With a new contract to drive for Alex Job Racing this year, Lieb hoped for a competitive performance in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 20. Instead, he was felled by a virus and limited to a single 25-lap stint on the 3.7-mile Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway road course.
Lieb, of Germany, and fellow Porsche factory drivers Lucas Luhr of Germany and Romain Dumas of France were quickest of the GT class through most of seven days of testing and practice for the 12-hour race. Dumas qualified the No. 24 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR third in class, but his lap time was disallowed because the car's front spoiler was too low, forcing the car to start from the back of the 44-car grid.
Luhr drove the first hour and carved his way through the field to second in class. He and Dumas alternated driving stints and swapped first and second place with their teammates in the No. 23 Porsche. Lieb started his single stint at 3h45. He maintained the class lead as he completed the 25 laps required for championship points. Late in the race, Luhr was driving when a caution period started at 8h40, causing him to lose a lap to the class leader due to his track position behind the safety car. The lost lap put the trio out of contention for the win, and they settled for second in GT.
The position was significant because the top finishers earned bonus championship points due to the length of the race.
"It was a good race," Lieb said. "I must thank my teammates Romain and Lucas - they did most of the work. I did the minimum 25 laps, but I was so tired and sick I couldn't even see the dashboard. On one side, I'm happy to get the points, but on the other side I'm disappointed I couldn't drive more.
"The whole week was okay - we were the fastest in nearly every session and we improved the car a bit. The other GT guys were very fast, too, especially our teammates. I felt up and down all week. I was really sick on Friday and also Saturday - I was in bed all day except for my stint. I can't wait to go to Mid-Ohio to make it better."
The next ALMS race is scheduled for June 27 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.