Motorsport.com decided to have an American Le Mans Series driver give our readers a lap around the season opener, the historic 12 hours of Sebring, Flying Lizard Motorsports' Johannes van Overbeek sent us, in his own words, the lap around the 3.7-miles Sebring circuit.
This year, van Overbeek will share the cockpit with Jon Fogarty, an openwheel racer and the 2004 Atlantic champion who switched gears to run sportscar endurance races.
"One Lap of Sebring"
by Johannes van Overbeek
Sebring is one of my favorite tracks. For what it lacks in elevation changes Sebring makes up for it in difficult blind corners, pavement changes and BIG BUMPS. Luckily the Flying Lizard Motorsports, ShoreTel, eSilicon Porsche RSR's are fun to drive at Sebring.
Turn One has a broad entry with a blind exit. It's a fast corner that we approach in 6th gear downshifting into 4th. The object is to go as quickly as you can into the turn without having the bumps at the exit assist you off the track.
Turn 7 is the slowest corner at Sebring. Turn 7 is approached in top gear followed by heavy braking, downshifting into second gear. It is critical to get a good run off of turn 7 because it leads to a long flat out section comprised of turns 8 and 9 which are mere bends taken flat.
The entry of turn 10 seems slightly downhill, and requires very heavy braking downshifting from 6th to 3rd gear. Maintaining momentum is key while carefully accelerating off the corner and over an exit bump. Ten leads into 11, a flat left bend that immediately throws you into a jog to the right-turn 12.
Reaching a good balance in turn 13 is hard to do. You either understeer going in or oversteer coming out. Even through turn 13 is a 90 degree corner you end up turning 70 degrees because of the entry. You enter pointed to the left but the track turns right. In addition, the turn-in is earlier than you think and the apex is banked followed by bumps at the exit. A good exit out of 13 is important to a good lap time at Sebring.
Is a very fast section that bends left. It is taken flat provided you have an adequate aero balance on the car. After exiting turn 13 in third gear we continue to upshift until top gear is reached. I try and brush each of the apex curbs which lead to turn 15.
An easy corner that is important because it leads to the long back straightaway. Turn 16 is off camber which makes it slick and hard to get the power down. Often times you end up on the exit curbing.
Turn 17 is a 180 degree bumpy corner that narrows at the apex. I think this is one of the hardest corners on any racetrack in North America. You don't really brake that hard which is counter intuitive when you are approaching a 180 degree corner at 160 mph. At entry I use medium brake pressure followed by three downshifts, off the brake, turn right and hang on. You crash and jump over the various bumps and through it all you have to be getting back into the throttle hard to launch yourself onto the front straightaway completing a lap of Sebring International Raceway.