AUDI R10, GT2 CLASS IMPRESS ON FINAL DAY OF AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES WINTER TEST
Sebring, Fla. - If Wednesday is any indication, the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring could make more history than we thought. For starters, Rinaldo Capello went 0.7 seconds under the track qualifying record in his Audi R10, a tremendous prospect for the R10's debut race next month. Capello's lap of 1:47.308 best teammate Frank Biela's qualifying pass of 1:48.029, set in 2002.
That was just one highlight on what was a pretty quiet day at Sebring International Raceway.
The other interesting development saw all seven GT2 cars break Timo Bernhard's class qualifying record of 2:04.804 from 2004. Leading the way was Scott Maxwell in Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz's No. 50 Panoz Esperante GTLM with an astounding 2:02.585. Imagine what the Esperante will be lapping with another month-and-a-half of development.
The second best time of the day in GT2 came from Joey Hand in the No. 21 BMW Team PTG BMW3 at 2:03.335, a lap that still was 1.5 seconds better than the record. Next was the other Panoz Esperante, this one the No. 80 Team LNT entry driven by Tom Kimber-Smith. The youngster did himself proud with a 2:03.448 around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course.
The other big mover of the day was Jon Field in the No. 37 Intersport Racing Lola B05/40-AER. After jumping in the car with about 20 minutes left in the final session, he turned 1:51.094. Looks like it's going to be a pretty good battle come March.
AROUND THE PADDOCK: Dyson Racing's new Lola B06/10-AER turned one lap during Wednesday morning's session due to a water pump problem. The team chalked that up to "teething problems" with the new car. . As expected, Graham Rahal got behind the wheel of one of BMW Team PTG's BMW M3s Wednesday morning. The 17-year-old's best time was a 2:07.28 on his 20th lap. It wasn't a bad time considering his tires had 60 laps on them. Team officials are considering adding Rahal as a driver for 2006.
The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST on March 18 at Sebring International Raceway and will be televised on SPEED Channel. American Le Mans Series Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.