Sebring 12h: Jani’s Rebellion Oreca beats Cadillacs to pole
Porsche’s World Endurance champion Neel Jani edged Action Express Racing’s Cadillacs to take pole position for the 65th running of the Twelve Hours of Sebring, as Christian Fittipaldi ran out of fuel on his final flying lap.
Pipo Derani was apparently the first driver heading for a sub-1min49sec lap but ducked into the pits with a boost issue. He would subsequently lose all times because the team worked on the car in pitlane which, once the qualifying session is underway, is in breach of IMSA regulations.
And so Rebellion Racing’s Neel Jani took up the fight against the track record of 1m51.217. In truth, he blew it out of the water with a 1min48.178sec lap, ahead of Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.Rs of Christian Fittipaldi on 48.273sec, and Dane Cameron on 48.314.
Jose Gutierrez was fourth in the #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsport Ligier, with Brendon Hartley fifth in the #22 ESM Nissan-Ligier and Ricky Taylor a surprisingly subdued sixth in the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac.
Seventh went to the JDC/Miller machine of Stephen Simpson, Jonathan Bomarito led the Mazda charge in eighth – Mazda’s first lap under 1min50sec this weekend – with Renger Van der Zande ninth in Visit Florida Racing’s Riley XXX.
GT Le Mans
Dirk Muller was the man first in the zone in GTLM, clocking a 1min56.175 in the #66 Ford GT, as teammate Stefan Mucke in the #68 car and the Porsche 911 RSRs of Kevin Estre and Dirk Werner tried to shave his advantage.
But it was the #67 Ford piloted by ex-IndyCar ace Ryan Briscoe which was first car into the 1min55sec segment, setting a 1:55.939 and claiming pole by almost a quarter of a second.
Tommy Milner then put in a heroic effort to take third in the #4 Corvette C7.R, just 0.3sec off Briscoe’s best, and Antonio Garcia in the #3 Vette was just a tenth slower, albeit with Estre’s #912 Porsche between them.
Mucke claimed sixth, just ahead of Werner’s Porsche, with Nicky Catsburg and Alexander Sims in eighth and ninth for RLL BMW. Giancarlo Fisichella’s Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 was tenth and last, 1.5sec off Briscoe’s pole-winning time.
It was expected to be a close battle, but it wasn’t at all.
Throughout practice, the Audi R8s had appeared to have the edge, with 3GT Racing’s Lexus pairing running them close. However, former Indy Lights and Pro Mazda champion Tristan Vautier’s SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 shattered the GTD lap record by 2.5sec to claim pole by 0.75sec with a 1min59.738sec
Connor De Phillippi landed P2 in the Land-Motorsport Audi, a little under half a second clear of Corey Lewis in the Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan.
Next up were Robert Alon and Scott Pruett in the Lexus RC Fs, with Andrew Davis sixth in the Stevenson Motorsports Audi.
Ben Keating and Cooper MacNeil were seventh and eighth in the Riley Motorsport Mercedes.
Gustavo Yacaman took pole by a desperately close margin of 0.069sec for BAR1 Motorsports, over James French in the Performance Tech Motorsports machine.
Former Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice was well over 2sec down in the second BAR1 entry while Indy Lights driver Garett Grist was fourth in the Starworks Motorsport entry.
Sebring qualifying times
Briscoe “nailed” pole lap, as Sebring GT qualifying records tumble
Jani: “We’re not the favourites” for Sebring win
About this article
|Location||Sebring International Raceway|
|Drivers||Dirk Muller , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Pruett , Joao Barbosa , Ryan Briscoe , Jonathan Bomarito , Neel Jani , Stephen Simpson , Tommy Milner , Stefan Mücke , Dirk Werner , Dane Cameron , Brendon Hartley , Renger van der Zande , Ricky Taylor , Joel Miller , Tristan Vautier , Gustavo Yacaman , Connor de Phillippi , Pipo Derani , Kevin Estre , James French , Robert Alon , Jose Gutierrez|
|Teams||Rebellion Racing , Action Express Racing , Spirit of Daytona Racing , JDC/Miller Motorsports , Wayne Taylor Racing|