Sebring: Thursday practice/qualifying rain report

PROVISIONAL GRID SET FOR 53RD RUNNING OF MOBILE 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING Sebring, Fla. - Due to inclement weather Thursday, a provisional grid has been set for the 53rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the first American Le Mans...

PROVISIONAL GRID SET FOR 53RD RUNNING OF MOBILE 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING

Sebring, Fla. - Due to inclement weather Thursday, a provisional grid has been set for the 53rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the first American Le Mans Series event of 2005.

The grid was set by combining the best practice times from Wednesday's two practice sessions and Thursday morning's session. The Thursday afternoon qualifying period was changed to an open practice, but no teams took part. A combined practice session is scheduled for 10:25 to 11:25 a.m. Friday for all classes.

Based on the combined practice times, the overall pole was awarded to the No. 1 ADT Champion Audi R8, with JJ Lehto, Marco Werner and Tom Kristensen behind the wheel, trying for its first Sebring victory. Lehto and Werner placed second in 2004, teaming with Emanuele Pirro.

Last year, Lehto posted the fastest qualifying time and quickest race lap but still finished five laps behind the winning No. 28 Canon/Infiniti Audi R8.

"The Audi R8 could have been a bit faster," Lehto said. "We weren't really pushing. We were expecting to have qualifying (Thursday). The track was very bad. It was very dirty and sandy."

In LMP2, the No. 37 Telesis Intersport Racing Lola B05/40 AER will start on the class pole and fifth overall. The privateer team of Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Gregor Fisken was almost a full three seconds faster than the second-quickest car in class.

"The new Lola seems to be a good car so far," Field said. "We've just scratched the surface, and Sebring is a rough track to see what it can do. This car is built more like a prototype should be. It's real rugged and not as flimsy. We ordered the car late, but Lola did a great job putting it together so precisely."

As expected, Corvette Racing's two new C6-Rs set the pace in GT1. The No. 4 entry of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen barely edged its sister car, the No. 3 with Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis by about 0.30 seconds.

The No. 4 trio will start eighth on the grid overall.

"This is an important year for the C6," Gavin said. "There is going to be a lot of competition, not only here at Sebring, but all season. The Saleen should do well here, the Aston-Martins are quick, and the Maserati is a bit of an unknown. The competition from our sister car is going to be very tough."

Another privateer entry, the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, was fastest among GT2 cars. Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Lucas Luhr will start 20th overall.

Thursday's poor weather wasn't anything new to Luhr.

"We were prepared to qualify in the wet," he said. "Jorg and myself are Germans, so we are used to the rain. Some of the American drivers do not like it so much. It is a 12-hour race, so you won't win the race in qualifying on the pole or even the first corner. But it's always nice to start in the front of the class."

The starting grid does not become official until one hour after Saturday morning's warm-up session, scheduled to end at 8:40 a.m.

-alms-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Jan Magnussen , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Jon Field , Lucas Luhr , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Marco Werner , Gregor Fisken , Olivier Beretta , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing