Sebring: Porsche Motorsport qualifying report

Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, Corvette Take First Eight Sebring GT2 Qualifying Slots; Graf Second in LMP2 with Porsche RS Spyder; Leh Keen on Pole in GTC Porsche Joerg Bergmeister puts ...

Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, Corvette Take First Eight Sebring GT2 Qualifying Slots; Graf Second in LMP2 with Porsche RS Spyder; Leh Keen on Pole in GTC Porsche

Joerg Bergmeister puts #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the pole; Wolf Henzler Second in Team Falken Tire GT2 Porsche after Factory BMW is Excluded

SEBRING, Fla. - March 19 -- The expected shoot-out between Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and Corvette for the 58th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has already begun even with the start of the race more than 12 hours away.

Porsche factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler (both Germany) put their respective Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs in first and second positions on the grid after the Dirk Mueller factory BMW was excluded from qualifying results after the post-session technical inspection. The Melo Ferrari qualified third, followed the two factory Corvettes.

The 58th running of the Sebring 12-hour event will take the green flag on Saturday, March 20, at 10:30 AM EDT, with live television coverage on SPEED TV starting at 10:00 AM. The first 90 minutes will be telecast (until noon EDT), and then continue on www.speedtv.com until 2:00 PM, with the final 8-1/2 hours live on SPEED. The checkered flag will fly at 10:30 PM, and network will stay on the air until 11:00 PM with complete post-race coverage and interviews.

Bergmeister, who, along with American Porsche factory driver Patrick Long, won the American Le Mans Series GT2 championship last year in the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, turned his fast lap on his third trip around the circuit.

"I was happy with the qualifying lap, and, at the moment, it was the most we could expect in that session," said Bergmeister, who brought the car in two laps later and parked it to save wear on the tires - the same tires that must be on the car to start the race.

"We had an aggressive tire choice, and were honestly surprised that the others in the class were not as fast as they had been earlier in the week. Still, the pole position at the front of the grid will help us get a fast start," said Bergmeister, whose German colleague Marc Lieb, also a Porsche factory driver, will join the team for tomorrow's race.

Sharing the front row with the Lizards Porsche is the #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR qualified by Wolf Henzler, who was surprised by the grid position, said the tires did what he asked them to do during the qualifying session, and they are looking forward to the race. Wolf's co-driver for the season is Bryan Sellers (USA), who helped Falken develop its GT2 tire last year with a 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The third driver for the team is Patrick Pilet (France), who drives for the IMSA Performance Porsche team (French team - "IMSA" is not related to International Motor Sports Association, sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series).

In LMP2, the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder, qualified by Klaus Graf, who will share the driving duties with car owner Greg Pickett (USA) and Sascha Maassen (Germany), will start on the front row after qualifying less than a tenth of a second off the pole. Their entry is the only Porsche RS Spyder running in the world in 2010 after Penske Racing won the American Le Mans Series LMP2 championship three years in a row from 2006 to 2008.

In the new GT Challenge class for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the Alex Job Racing entry qualified by Leh Keen (USA), the reigning Rolex Grand-Am GT champion, is on the pole in the Porsche he will share with Butch Leitzinger (USA) and Juan Gonzales (Mexico).

Eighteen overall victories, 65 class wins, 205 overall top ten finishes, and 13 consecutive wins (1976 - 1988) at Sebring make Porsche the most successful manufacturer by far in the history of the race. Their first victory on the airfield circuit in Central Florida 50 years ago, and Porsche's first major overall international endurance victory, went to Hans Herrmann (Germany) and Olivier Gendebien (Belgium) in the factory Porsche RS 60.

-source: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Dirk Müller , Butch Leitzinger , Klaus Graf , Sascha Maassen , Patrick Long , Greg Pickett , Marc Lieb , Bryan Sellers , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Patrick Pilet , Alex Job , Hans Herrmann
Teams Team Penske , Alex Job Racing , Team Falken Tire , Flying Lizard Motorsports