Bernhard nabs first ALMS pole as Alex Job Racing has top two GT Sebring spots; Marc Lieb loses his qualifying position as Orbit Porsche found non-compliant. --Three Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars have the top three GT qualifying spots for...
Bernhard nabs first ALMS pole as Alex Job Racing has top two GT Sebring spots; Marc Lieb loses his qualifying position as Orbit Porsche found non-compliant.
--Three Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars have the top three GT qualifying spots for Saturday's 51st Annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring-
SEBRING, Florida - March 13 - Timo Bernhard, the 22 year-old Porsche factory driver who already has a Daytona 24-Hour and Le Mans 24-Hour victory under his belt, showed he had the speed as well as consistency by taking the GT pole position in his Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS for the March 15 running of the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring.
Bernhard, who won the Porsche Carrera Cup in Germany in 2001 as part of the UPS Porsche Junior team, edged fellow factory driver Marc Lieb, the 2002 Carrera Cup champion in Thursday's 25-minute session at Sebring International Raceway. But Lieb, driving t he Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS, was disqualified from qualifying and forced to the back of the starting grid when officials spotted a crack in the rear wing bracket which allowed the wing to move into a non-compliant position. Lieb and co-drivers Pete r Baron and Leo Hindery will have the hard task of moving up through the traffic of 60 starters after retiring Porsche President Fred Schwab throws the green flag on Saturday.
That allowed the second Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche, with defending Sebring and ALMS GT co-champion Sascha Maassen at the helm, to move up to the other front row spot on the GT grid. Bernhard's co-driver is fellow German Jorg Bergmeister, while Maasse n shares the driving duties with Monaco's Lucas Luhr. These two driving pairs won eight of the ten ALMS races last year, and captured nine of the ten pole positions.
In the face of pressure from the five Ferraris in the field, Johnny Mowlem from England - who drove a GT Ferrari to second overall at the recent Rolex 24 - took the Petersen Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RS to third place in GT qualifying, ahead of the Ferrari team he drove for at Daytona.
Other top ten Porsche qualifiers included the Russian entry of Stephane Daoudi/Nikolay Fomenko/Walter Lechner, Jr (fifth); second Orbit Racing car of Joe and Jay Policaster with guest driver Mike Fitzgerald (sixth); the Zip Racing entry piloted by Spencer Pumpelly/Andy Lally/Steve Ivankovich (seventh); the winning 24 Hours at Daytona entry of Kevin Buckler/Eliseo Salazar/Jim Pace (eight); The British P.K. Sport racer of Robin Liddell/Piers Masarati/David Warnock (ninth), and the J3 Motorsports Porsche of Ju stin Jackson/David Murry/Brian Cunningham (tenth).
Other Porsche qualifying notes:
--Alex Job Racing, after years of running cars with #22 and #23, has given up the number 22 in favor of 24. The 2002 #23 championship car is on display at Porsche headquarters in Germany, while the #22 car has been sold. Both AJR cars at Sebring are bran d new 2003 Porsche 911 GT3 RS racers.
--All five Porsche factory drivers - Sascha Maassen, Lucus Luhr, Jorg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard, and Marc Lieb are running at Sebring.
--Cort Wagner, the 1999 ALMS GT champion, is running with The Racer's Group at Sebring, and hopes to sign on with the team for the rest of the season.
--David Murry reports the J3 Racing Porsche should run much better for the race than it did in practice and qualifying as they made major chassis adjustments after today's sessions.