Theys Qualifies the Doran-Lista ...
Theys Qualifies the Doran-Lista #27 in Tenth Thursday For Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, Fla., March 14 - Thursday at Sebring International Raceway Didier Theys of Scottsdale, Ariz. qualified tenth for the 50th annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, which will be broadcast live on Speed Channel beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
He was behind the wheel of the Doran-Lista Racing Oreca Dallara Judd #27, which is based in Lebanon, Ohio. The other drivers for the car in this race will be Mauro Baldi of Monte Carlo and Fredy Lienhard Sr. of Erlan, Switzerland.
Theys turned the 3.7-mile road course in 1:52.186 or an average speed of 118.731 mph on his fastest lap of the session, which turned out to be his sixth circuit during the 25-minute qualifying session.
Displaying his great consistency, Theys' second-fastest lap was a 1:52.25.
Theys, Baldi, and team manager Kevin Doran won this event in 1998. That year's race featured more lead changes than any other edition, 24.
As expected, two Infineon Audi R8s took the top two spots in qualifying. The #1 car of Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro, all of Monte Carlo, was the fastest at 1:48.029 or 123.300 mph.
If history holds true to course, being the fastest isn't always best in this particular race. In the 49 previous runnings of this race, the car that set the fastest lap in the race has only gone on to win eight times. The event is so challenging that nine times in Sebring history the leader at the eleventh-hour mark didn't go on to win the race, either.
Theys said that the team ran faster in practice here earlier in the week, posting the fifth- and sixth-fastest times in various practice sessions before ending up tenth in qualifying.
"We've been fighting a little bit of a handling problem for the last two days," he explained. "We must raise the car so much to avoid the bumps [on the track], and we lose so much downforce by doing that that we're having trouble finding a good balance.
"We will go back to a more conservative set-up for the race," he added.
"With some testing here earlier we could have been much faster," he elaborated. "I believe we can run in the 1:50-area if our handling is better. Right now there is a lot of understeer in the car.
"The rest of the car is perfect," he continued. "The engine is a little too hot, but everything else - the gearbox, the brakes, the tires, electrical- everything else is perfect, thanks to the great job Kevin Doran and the Doran-Lista team does to prepare the car. If we could just run the car lower, we'd be in much better shape."
"With the aerodynamics we have to run here and the fact that we didn't test here, we're chasing the set-up every session, and there just aren't enough sessions to catch up," Doran said. "This track is very bumpy and it's hard to get the shocks just right. After winning the pole and the first two races this year I guess this is a little disappointing, but 12 hours is still a long time, and anything can happen on Saturday."
For more information, see www.doranracing.com or www.lista.com.