Sebring: Monday test notes

Champion Audi leads Monday testing at Sebring. SEBRING, Fla. (March 10, 2003) -- Emanuele Pirro has brought his Audi R8 experience to the ADT Champion Audi team for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and that knowledge paid off on Monday as he...

Champion Audi leads Monday testing at Sebring.

SEBRING, Fla. (March 10, 2003) -- Emanuele Pirro has brought his Audi R8 experience to the ADT Champion Audi team for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and that knowledge paid off on Monday as he set the fastest lap of the day as teams tested for Saturday's race.

The Italian driver turned the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway at 1:48.489 in the first of two testing sessions for American Le Mans Series cars on Monday. A driver for the factory Audi team the past three seasons, Pirro is joining with fellow ex-Formula 1 pilots JJ Lehto and Stefan Johansson for the privately-owned Champion team at Sebring. The car is based in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Bentley Speed 8 and Champion Audi R8 at speed.
Photo by American Le Mans Series.

The two-car factory Bentley team made its presence known on Monday as the British green machines posted the second and third fastest laps of the day. The car driven by Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello and Guy Smith was second at 1:48.550, with the Johnny Herbert, David Brabham and Mark Blundell car third at 1:48.649.

Rounding out the top five speeds for the day were the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 (Frank Biela, Phillip Peter and Marco Werner) at 1:49.235, and the Audi UK Audi R8 entry (Mika Salo, Perry McCarthy and Jonny Kane) at 1:50.377.

The LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes was led by the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG driven by Chad Block, Didier de Radigues and Chris Dyson. The car turned a lap of 1:52.292, eighth-fastest overall. Another Lola-MG driven by Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Michael Durand was second in class at 1:53.114. The Field-Dayton-Durand team won the LMP 675 class in last year's race.

Leading the GTS class was the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R driven by Oliver Gavin, Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins at 1:59.031. The second factory Corvette driven by Ron Fellows, Franck Freon and Johnny O'Connell was second in class at 2:00.061.

The fastest lap in the GT class was turned by Marc Lieb, joining Peter Baron and Leo Hindery in the Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Lieb was clocked at 2:07.207, just beating defending ALMS GT class champions Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen at 2:07.243 in the Alex Job Racing Porsche.

There were three minor incidents during the day, all in the morning session. Eliseo Salazar, who will be making his first ALMS start this weekend in The Racers Group Porsche, spun in turn four of the 17-turn circuit, directly in front of one of the Bentleys. Contact was avoided and Salazar continued.

Jonny Kane, driving the Audi UK entry, spun into the grass in turn 7 but made no contact and was able to continue. Also, the new Lister Storm LMP entry stopped in turn 16 due to an onboard fire, but damage was minor and the car was towed to the paddock.

A pair of Ferrari 550 Maranellos circulates at Sebring.
Photo by American Le Mans Series.

Thirty-seven cars recorded times during the day, and several others turned unrecorded laps as they were running without timing transponders on the unofficial testing day. Fifty-nine cars were in the paddock on Monday, and qualifying will be held on Thursday.

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442, or toll-free in Florida (800) 626-RACE. Four classes of American Le Mans Series cars will compete in the event, and some 60 cars are expected to take the green flag.

The race will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the SPEED Channel, with live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Duncan Dayton , David Brabham , Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Tom Kristensen , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Eliseo Salazar , Mika Salo , Ron Fellows , Franck Freon , Andy Pilgrim , Mark Blundell , Chad Block , Jon Field , Sascha Maassen , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Oliver Gavin , Jonny Kane , Marco Werner , Phillip Peter , Michael Durand , Marc Lieb , Perry McCarthy , Alex Job , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto