Sebring: Team Ascari race report

Ascari Is Best Of British At Sebring Sebring International Raceway, Florida& ...

Ascari Is Best Of British At Sebring

Sebring International Raceway, Florida– 17th March 2002: British trio Ben Collins, Justin Wilson and Christian Vann battled through to a superb sixth place finish for UK-based Team Ascari last night in the 50th running of the Sebring 12 Hours. Driving the NDS sponsored Ascari KZR1 Judd they spent the latter part of the race fighting with the Lola-MG of Americans John Field, Duncan Dayton and Michael Durand.

In the final hour of the race, as other cars wilted, the all-British Ascari moved up from eighth to sixth spot - the first non-American entry to pass the chequered flag. The No. 21 car had climbed back from 15th place after an early drama when Collins was forced to run over a curb avoiding another competitor. This necessitated a lengthy pit stop to have the front nose box replaced.

Kristian Kolby, Werner Lupberger and T.J. Bell, driving for Team Ascari in the No. 19 "international" car, also made it to the finish of what many consider to be the world's toughest endurance race because of the bumpy nature of the Florida track plus temperatures in the high 80's. After problems, including replacement of the left front suspension and - late in the race - a left rear driveshaft, the car was eventually classified 28th.

Ian Dawson, Race Director, Team Ascari: "I'm delighted to get both cars to the finish in such a hard race and, of course, finish sixth and significantly the best British car. This gives us third place in the Manufacturers points and plenty to build on for Le Mans."

The performance was particularly impressive as neither Team Ascari nor any of the six drivers - whose average age was 24 - had ever raced at Sebring before.

Reigning International Formula 3000 Champion Justin Wilson, Driver, Team Ascari: "This was a tremendous experience and really tough, I used muscles I've never used before! This was my first ever endurance event and I enjoyed racing at night for the first time. Team Ascari did a great job and I'd love to drive at Le Mans."

Ben Collins, Driver, Team Ascari: "There is no doubt that it is the most gruelling race I've done in my life. You hear about Sebring but it doesn't prepare you. I'm happy with the job we've done."

The race was won by former Grand Prix ace Johnny Herbert plus team mates Christian Pescatori and Dindo Capello in the factory Audi, the third year running that the team has won this race.

Team Ascari, the all-British racing outfit based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, has this year launched on a tour of 'The Classics'. They started at Daytona's 24 Hours in February and, following Sebring, prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans where the car will feature a major update.

-ta-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Duncan Dayton , Justin Wilson , Christian Pescatori , T.J. Bell , Werner Lupberger , Ben Collins , Michael Durand , Christian Vann , Dindo Capello , Kristian Kolby