Sebring: Orbit Racing qualifying report

front row Orbit Racing will start from the front row of the GT grid for Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring. Marc Lieb qualified the No. 43 YES Network Porsche in two minutes 6.189 seconds on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway road course,...

front row

Orbit Racing will start from the front row of the GT grid for Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring. Marc Lieb qualified the No. 43 YES Network Porsche in two minutes 6.189 seconds on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway road course, good for second in GT, just off the class pole time of 2:06.023. Following a different qualifying strategy, Mike Fitzgerald was seventh in class in the No. 42 Classic Industries Porsche (2:09.262).

"Qualifying was really, really good," Lieb said. "We had a bit of an understeer problem - that was probably [enough to lose the] pole, but I'm very happy with the result. The guys have been working so hard the whole weekend, it's just fantastic to be here. We have a good setup for the race and another session tomorrow when we can find a better race setup."

"I was a little disappointed by the qualifying performance," Fitzgerald said. "The Orbit Racing car was terrific, but I made a strategic mistake. I went out early in the line and a lot of the fast, smart guys stayed in the pits and waited for an opening. I had a hard time with traffic and difficulty getting a clean lap. But I'm pretty optimistic about our chances in the race."

commemorating Columbia

The No. 43 YES Network Porsche carries a special medallion this weekend, honoring the Columbia space shuttle crew who died in February. Orbit Racing and Stryker Physiotherapy participated in a safety seminar at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently. As thanks for their contribution, the team received the commemorative medallion.

tire talk

Michelin engineers have been hard at work designing tires for the unique conditions at Sebring, including hot, humid weather and a rough track surface. Jerry Rinaldo, manager of Michelin brand racing activities, noted the Sebring race week requires more tires than the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"This year we brought almost 5000 tires, which is more than we take to Le Mans (4000)," he said. "The reason is the amount of track time we have here - we've been here since Friday testing, plus the paid practice, normal practice, then we're testing after the race, continuing another 12 hours to complete a test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"In the back of our truck is a new-generation tire for the GT cars. It will be the race tire - it's got more durability than last year and it was designed for hot weather. We have very limited quantities, so we're not going to try to run those until maybe Friday."

-or/sp-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Marc Lieb