Kristensen, Audi Stay Strong in Sebring Testing
Audi Sport Team Joest ended Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway the same way it closed Monday – with the top three times in testing for America’s greatest sports car race. The Audi R18 of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish set the best time of the day at 1:48.138 (124.508 mph) as all of the German factory prototypes were under the 1:49 mark in the final test for the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.The race is the opening round for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the FIA World Endurance Championship.Audi is at Sebring looking for its first win in the 12 Hours since 2009. The R18 of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Loic Duval – a winner last year in Team ORECA Matmut’s Peugeot – was second at 1:48.410 (124.195 mph). The trio of Marcel Faessler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer sat third, 0.701 seconds off the pace of the lead Audi.There was a spirited fight for the best of the non-diesel runners. Dyson Racing’s 2012-spec Lola-Mazda shared by Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Steven Kane was fourth at 1:50.243 (122.130 mph). Two of the new HPD ARX-03as were next from Strakka Racing and Muscle Milk Pickett Racing.
The top three cars in P2 were within 0.362 seconds. Pecom Racing’s ORECA-Nissan of Luis Perez Companc, Pierre Kaffer and Soheil Ayari led the way at 1:53.527 (118.597 mph) followed by a pair of HPD ARX-03bs. Level 5’s entry of Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa was second with a lap of 1:53.883. Starworks Motorsports’ HPD of Ryan Dalziel, Vicente Potolicchio and Stephane Sarrazin moved into the third on the car’s last lap.The GT battle was as tight as ever with Ferraris leading the way. AF Corse’s F458 Italia of Gimmi Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander went quickest at 2:01.097 (111.184 mph), just 0.043 seconds ahead of Luxury Racing’s entry.Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Jörg Bergmesiter, Patrick Long and Marco Holzer ended the session third at 2:01.341 (110.960 mph) which was just 0.074 seconds ahead of BMW Team RLL’s leading BMW M3 GT of Jörg Müller, Bill Auberlen and Uwe Alzen. The top eight cars were within 0.879 seconds.CORE autosport’s lead ORECA FLM09 led the Prototype Challenge following a lap of 1:55.473 (116.599 mph) for the car of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and Eric Lux. The CORE car was more than a second clear of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ entry of Butch Leitzinger, Rudy Junco and Ken Dobson. Merchant Services Racing – making its ALMS debut – sat third at 1:56.804 (115.270 mph). Chapman Ducote, Javier Echeverria and Pablo Sanchez are sharing the car.Krohn Racing, last year’s GTE Am winner at Sebring, was quickest in the class at 2:02.991 (109.471 mph) with its Ferrari F458 Italia of Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Michele Rugolo. Larbre Competition’s lead Corvette C6.R of Patrick Bornhauser, Julian Canal and Pedro Lamy was just 0.203 seconds behind.Green Hornet Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup set the pace in GT Challenge. The car of Peter LeSaffre, Damien Faulkner and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen turned a lap of 2:07.841 (105.318 mph). TRG’s trio of Spencer Pumpelly, Emilio Di Guida and Marc Bunting trailed by only 0.151 seconds. JDX Racing’s Porsche of Chris Cumming, Marc Bullitt and Kevin Estre sat third at 2:08.230 (104.999 mph).Tom Kristensen, Audi Sport Team JoestNo. 2 Audi R18 (P1)“The Audi Sport team has prepared last year’s Audi R18 for the new regulations, and they have fit really well from the go. The first two days here have been constructive. We have three cars starting out more or less with the same set up, and we been trying a few different things. With three cars we learn things faster. To be one, two, three is maybe not a surprise, but that we have a little bit of gap now is a surprise to us at this stage. But let’s see how it will proceed for the entire week. Alan was fastest yesterday, I was fastest today, Dindo had a long run in, so for our car too, we feel we have a good base to start the rest of the official week and the first world championship race on American ground with the American Le Mans Series.”Lucas Luhr, Muscle Milk Pickett RacingNo. 6 HPD ARX-03a (P1)"Like at all our races, the important factor will be to stay out of trouble but with so many cars entered into this race with the WEC teams here, dealing with the traffic will be that much more challenging. We're really looking forward to the race but I think everyone at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing will be happy once the race is over because it has been a hectic last couple of months for them with very little time off and we would like nothing more than to give the guys a great result to thank them for all their hard work."Oliver Gavin, Corvette RacingNo. 4 Corvette C6.R (GT)"It's going to be a really challenging event. My expectations are there will be huge traffic and difficult situations with drivers who haven't raced at Sebring before. The pit lane has been extended to accommodate the large number of entries, which has changed the entry to the first turn. This will be an issue for the faster prototype cars because they won't be able to swing out wide to overtake and then arc into the first corner."Neel Jani, Rebellion RacingNo. 12 Lola B12/60-Toyota (P1)“It is very nice for me to be at Sebring again as it is such a distinctive circuit. So far from yesterday’s and today’s running we have been working to a pre-determined program and so far it has worked well for us. We are integrating Nick (Heidfeld) in to our team and working through various strategies for us to challenge for a very strong result this year, after we claimed a solid sixth here last year. We have laid some very strong foundations in testing.”Darren Law, Flying Lizard MotorsportsNo. 44 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT)"The new car has many different aerodynamic changes in the bodywork and the fenders, and in downforce it's actually quite a bit different. We also have some geometry changes in the suspension. So far, we're really impressed with the car. It's an easier car to drive this year, with wider front tires. It's got a lot better power-down rear grip. And it's more compliant over the bumps, which is key to getting around Sebring. It makes it a lot less grueling if the car is good over the bumps here. This is a cool event because it's not just our series. It's also the first round of the World Endurance Championship, so half the field is full of all the European teams, as well. So it's cool to get everybody from around the world together for this race."Bryce Miller, Paul Miller RacingNo. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT)“For Paul Miller Racing, starting the season with the brand new car is a great head start for us. We felt that the team had developed sufficiently in 2011 that we were ready for the new Porsche. For me, the paddle shift is the most significant improvement over last year, but the cockpit adjustment for the driver isn’t that drastic. With experienced development drivers Rob Bell and Sascha Maassen here to help us with the adjustments, the car still feels like a Porsche, only easier to drive and more stable.”The 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón begins with the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on Saturday on March 17. The race, set for 10:30 a.m. ET, will be broadcast at noon March 18 on ABC and shown live on ESPN3.The race is available to international audiences on MotorsTV in Europe, Fox Latin America, Rogers Sportnet in Canada, ESPN International, Fox Mideast and on ALMS.com.Visit ALMS.com for information on tickets and area accommodations. Follow the Series on Twitter (@almsnotes - #Sebring12), Facebook and our official YouTube channel.