Sebring: Porsche Motorsport qualifying report

Timo Bernhard, New Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Captures GT Class Pole For Saturday's 52nd Annual Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring SEBRING -- March 18 -- For the second year in a row, 21 year-old Timo Bernhard earned the GT class pole in the ...

Timo Bernhard, New Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Captures GT Class Pole For Saturday's 52nd Annual Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring

SEBRING -- March 18 -- For the second year in a row, 21 year-old Timo Bernhard earned the GT class pole in the #23 McKenna Porsche/mail2web Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for Saturday's 52nd Annual Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring.

Bernhard, who will compete with regular co-driver Jorg Bergmeister and last year's American Le Mans Series GT co-champion Sascha Maassen, turned the second fastest time in the qualifying session, but moved up to the pole after the BAM! Porsche 911 GT3 RS

had its time disallowed by ALMS due to the front splitter extending too far forward. ALMS also disallowed the qualifying time for the other Alex Job Racing Porsche for a front spoiler which was too close to the ground.

Porsche UPS Junior driver Mike Rockenfeller had put the BAM! Porsche on the pole, while Frenchman Romain Dumas had earned the third qualifying position in the Alex Job Porsche. Both cars were moved to the back of the pack for Saturday's event.

Second on the grid is the #66 The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Patrick Long/Cort Wagner/Kelly Collins, with Porsche factory driver Long turning the qualifying lap.  Third was the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Johannes van Overbeek/Darren Law
/John Fogarty, with van Overbeek qualifying the car.  The Risi Ferrari 360 was fourth, followed by the White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RS of David Murry/Craig Stanton, with Stanton running the qualifying session.

Other Porsche qualifying notes:

--Lucas Luhr, who is trying to become the first driver ever to win his class five years in a row at Sebring, will have to start that effort from the back of the pack as he is co-driving with Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas in the Alex Job Porsche which has to s tart on the last row.

--The #52 Seikel Racing Porsche, the #61 PK Sport Porsche, and the #67 The Racer's Group Porsche all missed qualifying due to mechanical problems, and will also start at the back of the pack.

--Most of the 2003 Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars are using updated components that are now standard in the 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs. The only major component on the new cars that can not be used on the 2003 model is the tub itself.

--Alex Job Racing has grabbed the Sebring pole four of the last five years, including Randy Pobst ('99), Sascha Maassen ('01 and '02), and Timo Bernhard ('03 and '04). Dirk Muller was on the pole in GT in 2000. All the GT pole-sitters since the inception of ALMS have been in Porsches.

--Alex Caffi from Italy, former CART driver and Le Mans winner, celebrated his 40th birthday tonight in the paddock -- with a cake from team sponsor Pirelli. Caffi is co-driving in the #61 PK Sport Porsche.

--Flying Lizard Porsche car owner Seth Neiman will start sixth in the team's second car with qualifier Lonnie Pechnick and veteran GT driver Peter Cunningham.

--The Racer's Group has the familiar blue paint scheme on its #68 Porsche, but the #66 and #67 have gone to a new green and gold design reflecting several of their new sponsors.

--The BAM! Porsche team is made up of several people who were involved in Orbit Racing a year ago, including team owners Tim Munday and Peter Baron, and driver Leo Hindery. Orbit Racing, owned by Rodger Hawley, is preparing a Porsche this year in the Gran d-Am series for Joe and Jay Policastro, who won their class and finished second overall at the 2004 Rolex 24.

--The White Lightning Petersen Motorsports team, which partnered with Alex Job Racing to win the GT class at Le Mans last year in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, is hoping for an invitation from the ACO to compete at Le Mans again this year. Alex Job Racing, whose entry name would have received the automatic invite as the class winner, has opted not to go to Le Mans for 2004.

The 52nd Annual 12 Hours of Sebring will be televised live -- flag to flag -- on The Speed Channel starting at 10:00 PM Eastern time on Saturday, March 20. The Speed Channel will telecast a 30-minute pre-race show followed by the green flag at 10:30 AM, and will stay with the race through the checkered flag at 10:30 PM -- plus a 30-minute, live victory circle and post-race celebration show.

The official Porsche media web site -- www.press.porsche.com -- will have qualifying information for the Sebring event for the Porsches entered, and will post stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche media web site users enter the word "carrera " for both user name and password, then choose "motor sports news" and "ALMS" to find the Sebring updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on Porsche Motorsports North America and "rac e reports").

The official race notes and results for all the classes at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring can be found on the official site for the American Le Mans Series (www.americanlemans.com), where fans can follow the race with live timing and scoring on-line as well as American Le Mans Radio Web, a live radio broadcast of the entire 12-hour race.

Other Web sites that will follow the Rolex 24 include Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar.com), The Race Site (www.theracesite.com), the Speed Channel site (www.speedTV.com), Motorsport.com (www.motorsport.com) , AutoSport magazine's site (www.autosport.c om), AutoRacingDaily.com (www.autoracingdaily.com), Motorsport-news.com (www.motorsport-news.com), Crash.net (www.crash.net), racinglines.com (www.racinglines.com), EnduranceSportsCar.com (www.endurancesportscar.com), pitstop.com (www.pitstop.com); and S peed Arena (www.speedarena.com).

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PORSCHE SEBRING FACTS

Overall Wins: 17 (Ferrari is second with 12)

Class Wins: 46

Fastest race average speed: 115.82 mph (Akin/Stuck/Gartner in a Porsche 962 -- 1986)

Fastest race lap: 130.707 mph by Derek Bell in a Porsche 962 -- 1986)

Porsche 911 Wins: 25 Overall and Class Victories

1st Overall Win: 1960

GT Class Wins: 23 (since 1979)

ALMS GT qualifying: Pole position all six years ALMS has run Sebring including 2004

13 Year Winning Streak (overall): 1976-1988

At least one Porsche has competed at Sebring every year since 1953 -- 52 straight races. No other manufacturer is close to that record.

-porsche-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Dirk Müller , David Murry , Randy Pobst , Sascha Maassen , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Darren Law , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Derek Bell , Peter Cunningham , Johannes van Overbeek , Marc Lieb , Alex Caffi , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Seth Neiman , Mike Rockenfeller , Jay Policastro , Alex Job , Cort Wagner
Teams Alex Job Racing