Spanish star and reigning Le Mans winner quickest in first official test
Marc Gene and Peugeot fired the first salvo for the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida with the fastest lap in official testing at Sebring International Raceway for the opening round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Gene, also a test driver for Ferrari’s F1 effort, set a best lap of 1:45.811 (125.885 mph) in one of two diesel-powered factory Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs that are entered in America’s most demanding race.
Gene will drive with fellow 2009 Le Mans 24 Hour-winning teammate Alexander Wurz and Anthony Davidson. Gene had never driven at Sebring before this week but he adapted well. The Spaniard was 0.337 seconds ahead of Pedro Lamy in the second Peugeot coupe. Lamy, driving with Sebastien Bourdais and Nic Minassian, turned a best time of 1:46.148 (125.485 mph).
Patrón Highcroft Racing’s Honda Performance Development ARX-01c was third overall and first in LMP2. Marino Franchitti’s lap of 1:47.995 (123.339 mph) was more than 1.5 seconds quicker than the second-place P2 entry of Klaus Graf in the Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder.
Franchitti is driving with 2009 LMP1 Series champion David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud, who finished second in last year’s championship. Graf, team owner Greg Pickett and four-time GT champion Sascha Maassen are in the Cytosport Porsche.
Dyson Racing’s isobutanol-powered Lola B09/86-Mazda coupe was less than a tenth of a second behind the Porsche with newcomer Andy Meyrick turning the car’s best lap. He is driving with Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.
Two-time Sebring overall winner Andy Wallace was the fastest driver in the new LMP Challenge class, featuring the ORECA FLM09 prototype. Wallace turned in a quick lap of 1:57.101 (113.748 mph) in the Genoa Racing FLM09 that he will drive with open-wheel standout JR Hildebrand and Tom Sutherland.
The British veteran was 0.153 seconds better than the Green Earth Team Gunnar entry of Gunnar Jeannette, Christian Zugel and Elton Julian. Zugel’s best lap was a 1:57.254 (113.510 mph) and gave the team less than a 0.1-second edge over the first of Level 5 Motorsports’ two entries – this one of Scott Tucker, James Gue and IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Amazingly, the top five cars were within 0.523 seconds of each other.
It was just as close in GT2 with five cars within 0.629 seconds. Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen went quickest in class with a lap of 2:01.837(109.326 mph) in the Corvette C66.R that he will drive with eight-time Sebring class winner Johnny O’Connell and Antonio Garcia. The trio won in GT1 last year for Chevrolet’s factory road-racing team.
Corvettes sat 1-2 with Oliver Gavin quickest in the sister C6.R. Gavin’s best pass was a 2:02.020 (109.162 mph) lap in the car he will share with Olivier Beretta and Emmanuel Collard, an overall Sebring winner for Penske and Porsche in 2008.
Risi Competizione’s Pierre Kaffer sat third thanks to Pierre Kaffer’s lap of 2:02.268 (108.941 mph) in the Ferrari F430 GT he will share with Jaime Melo and Gimmi Bruni. Risi has been on a tear in endurance events not having lost at Sebring, Le Mans or Petit Le Mans since the 2008 running of the 12 Hours.
Alex Job Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry of Jan-Dirk Lueders – driving with Bill Sweedler and Romeo Kapudija – went quickest in GT Challenge with a lap of 2:06.986 (104.893 mph). The car, however, crashed late in the session but the team expects to have it repaired for Thursday morning’s first practice session.
Shane Lewis went quickest for the second-place Velox Motorsport Porsche. He turned a lap of 2:07.924 (104.124 mph) and will drive with Jerry Vento and Lawson Aschenbach. Next up with The Racer’s Group Porsche of Henri Richard, Andy Lally and Duncan Ende, who posted a lap of 2:08.357 (103.773 mph).
Thursday’s first practice session is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET.
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, the opening round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and America’s greatest sports car race, starts at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. The green flag will fall at 10:30 a.m. ET with live coverage on SPEED starting at 10 a.m. ET. Live coverage also will be available on American Le Mans Radio, as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 245.Visit the Series’ schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much, much more will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com.
Courtesy ALMS © RIF