SEBRING, Fla. (March 16, 2001) -- After a strong run in final practice Friday, Dorsey Schroeder's confidence is sky-high heading into Saturday's 49th annual Superflo 12 Hours At Sebring sports car endurance race. The 48-year-old...
SEBRING, Fla. (March 16, 2001) -- After a strong run in final practice Friday, Dorsey Schroeder's confidence is sky-high heading into Saturday's 49th annual Superflo 12 Hours At Sebring sports car endurance race. The 48-year-old Schroeder, one of America's most successful road racing drivers over the past three decades, is seeking his first overall win in the Sebring classic and feels his chances are excellent. "I've probably put in a million laps here since I started racing in the early 70's," said Schroeder, a Missouri native who lives in Little Torch Key, Fla. "I get an immediate comfort level on the first lap since I know the track so well." Not only is Schroeder comfortable with the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway, he is also at the wheel of an Audi R8, the Prototype that dominated American Le Mans Series racing last year. His team, Champion Racing, was the first non-factory team to receive one of the prized race cars that he will co-drive with England's Andy Wallace and Ralf Kelleners of Germany. "It's physically easy to drive this car," he said. "It doesn't beat you up like other cars I've driven. There's so much more in this car than any car I'ce driven in 30 years of road racing. It's such a pleasure to drive." The Champion entry will start third in the 40-car field, right behind the two factory Audi entries. The pole-sitting team of Emanuele Pirro of Italy, Tom Kristensen of Denmark and Frank Biela of Germany is also the race's defending champion. As the teams had their final hour of practice on Friday, Schroeder and his teammates worked on their race-day strategy and final adjustments. "The other Audis have been running the soft compound of tires," he said. "Both qualifying sessions and today we've run on the hard tires. In our opinion, the soft tires will fall off on time during the race.
"The session today is the best we've had the car," he said. "We made some changes last night and got it dialed in. It's very neutral. You can attack the corners and the brake zones and be aggressive in overtaking." More than 100,000 fans have packed the inside and outside of the Sebring track, built on the site of the WWII bomber training airfield. The grinding race starts at 10:40 a.m. and ends at 10:40 p.m., meaning that the last three hours will be run in darkness.
"This is my best chance at winning again," said Schroeder, who was a class winner in 1989. "Sebring, by its nature, is very hard on cars and drivers. We think we have a good car and a good strategy, but then we have to have luck, too."