SEBRING, Fla. (January 15, 2002) -- With the 2002 season opener two months away, American Le Mans Series teams began a three-day Michelin tire test today at Sebring International Raceway, with many drivers getting their first look at the...
SEBRING, Fla. (January 15, 2002) -- With the 2002 season opener two months away, American Le Mans Series teams began a three-day Michelin tire test today at Sebring International Raceway, with many drivers getting their first look at the newly-paved sections of the famed racing circuit.
The 50th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, presented by Dodge, will kick off the 2002 ALMS season on March 16. Five ALMS cars were on hand for the first day of the test.
Two-time Sebring winner Tom Kristensen drove an Audi R8 in the test, the same car that he and fellow factory driver Rinaldo Capello drove on the ALMS in 2001. The car will be campaigned in 2002 by Florida-based Champion Racing, which was fielding the machine in the test session.
Also on hand was Sascha Maassen, who co-drove to the GT class win at Sebring last year. Maassen was driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS for Alex Job Racing in the test, the same team he competed for in 2001.
Team Cadillac revealed its new Northstar LMP 02 at a media dinner Monday night, and the car took to the track on Tuesday as part of the Michelin test. Wayne Taylor, Eric Bernard and Emmanuel Collard took turns behind the wheel of the new machine.
Panoz Motor Sports had two of its LMP-1 Prototypes at the test, with longtime drivers David Brabham and Jan Magnussen sharing the #50 machine. New team members Bryan Herta and Terry Borcheller drove the #51.
In the latter half of 2001, part of the Sebring circuit received new asphalt, though the old "airport" parts of the track remained in their original concrete, complete with bumps and dips.
"The bumps are what give Sebring its character," said Taylor, part of the 1996 winning team in the event.
Kristensen, who was part of the overall winning team at Sebring in 1999 and 2000, quickly found the fast way around the 3.7-mile track again.
"Sebring is very special to me," said the Dane. "My first race in America was here in 1999, and to win the first time at Sebring was fantastic.
"This is a very challenging track because it has so many different types of corners," he said. "The new pavement has changed it some, but because there are two types of surfaces here, it's still difficult."
The first day of the test started wet after an all-night rain, but the warm Florida sun was out by late morning and drivers were running on a dry track after the lunch break.
The test will continue Wednesday and Thursday.