Bentley, Dyson lead official practice at Sebring; qualifying set for Thursday.
SEBRING, Fla. (March 12, 2003) -- A factory Bentley and a privateer Lola-MG set the fastest times Wednesday as American Le Mans Series cars held their first official practice sessions for Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Qualifying to set the starting field will be held on Thursday.
The Bentley Speed 8 driven by Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello and Guy Smith led the morning practice session with a lap of 1:49.980 on the historic 3.7-mile circuit and that time proved to be the fastest of the day as the track slowed under the hot Florida sun during the afternoon session.
The Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG made history in the afternoon as it became the first car from the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes to lead a practice session in the American Le Mans Series. Andy Wallace, who will co-drive in the race with James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, set the quick time of the session with a lap of 1:51.192, which was also second-fastest of the day.
The ADT Champion Racing Audi R8, which had been the fastest car in unofficial testing on Monday and Tuesday, was third-fast on Wednesday with a lap of 1:51.231. Emanuele Pirro, JJ Lehto and Stefan Johansson will share the Florida-based car.
Rounding out the top five times of the day were a 1:51.884 posted by the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 of Frank Biela, Marco Werner and Phillip Peter, and the second Dyson Lola-MG steered by Didier de Radigues, Chad Block and Chris Dyson.
Leading the GTS class for production-based cars was the Veloqx Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello of Anthony Davidson, Darren Turner and Kelvin Burt, which turned a lap of 2:00.408. Next among the extremely-close times in the class was a 2:00.721 posted by the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim, just ahead of the second Veloqx Prodrive Ferrari of Tomas Enge, Peter Kox and Jamie Davies at 2:00.735.
Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen, winner of the GT class at Sebring the past two years, set the fastest time of the day in that class with a lap of 2:06.559 in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Marc Lieb was second in class with a lap of 2:06.865 in the Orbit Porsche that he will share with Leo Hindery and Peter Baron, just ahead of the second Job machine of Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard at 2:07.235.
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.