Sebring: Peugeot leads practice 2
Things are starting to heat up at Sebring International Raceway. Nic Minassian went to the top of the timing chart Wednesday afternoon with a lap of 1:45.989 (125.673 mph) for Peugeot in the day’s second practice session for the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. The factory diesel-powered LMP1 is racing in North America for the first time.
The top spot in each of the week’s previous sessions has alternated between Peugeot’s 908 and the Audi R10 TDI. That’s appropriate because Minassian said the surface at Sebring has changed just as often.
“Everything is OK with the car,” he said. “But it’s amazing how much the track changes from day to day. It’s really a learning experience. While I’ve done quite a bit of testing this year, I have been on the shorter side of the circuit more often testing for other series. But it’s good to get as much work as possible for this race.”
Acura continued its strong performance with Adrian Fernandez posting the fastest time in LMP2 and second overall. The Mexican star turned in a lap of 1:46.029 (125.626 mph) in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b. Fernandez and teammate Luis Diaz placed second in class and third overall in last year’s race and are running the next-generation Acura chassis for the first time, just like the other two Acura teams: defending P2 race winner Andretti Green Racing and Patr¢n Highcroft Racing.
Fernandez was 0.063 seconds ahead of Marco Werner in the lead Audi R10 TDI he will share with Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller. Werner’s time of 1:46.092 (125.551 mph) was a half-second better than the sister Audi of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen.
Penske Racing was second in P2 and fifth overall. Sascha Maassen’s time of 1:47.428 (123.990 mph) put the Porsche RS Spyder he is sharing with Patrick Long and Ryan Briscoe ahead of Dyson Racing’s Porsche of Marino Franchitti, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Lally by 0.021 seconds.
Oliver Gavin went quickest for Corvette Racing in GT1. The No. 4 Corvette C6.R toured the track in 1:57.674 (112.915 mph) for a 0.291-second cushion over the sister car of Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. Gavin will team with Olivier Beretta and Max Papis as the trio goes for its second Sebring class win in a row.
Dirk Werner put the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR out front in GT2 with a lap of 2:02.594 (108.651 mph). Werner, who is driving with Marc Basseng and Bryce Miller, is racing at Sebring for the second year after a fourth-place GT2 debut last year.
Porsches held the top two spots with the first of three Flying Lizard Motorsports entries posting a lap of 2:02.929 (108.355 mph). Next was the first of the Ferrari F430 GTs with the Tafel Racing entry of Dirk Müller, Dominik Farnbacher and Rob Bell posting a time of 2:02.939 (108.346 mph).
Adrian Fernandez, Lowe’s Fernandez Racing
Acura ARX-01b (LMP2)
“The track is really changing a lot. It’s really hard to tell where everybody is out there. Certain tires, certain fuel amounts dictate a lot. I think we are in good shape. I think we are strong for qualifying, and I think we will be okay for the race but not sure how we stack up with the Porsches yet. This is only the third test with this car, so it’s still a rookie. The car seems reliable. We’ve worked out many of the issues we had in our simulation test race a few weeks ago and pray that the new Acura chassis package will be strong enough to go against the Porsches.”
Marino Franchitti, Andretti Green Racing
Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2)
“I’ve never actually done a full season, so I’m really looking forward to that. It’s really nice to be at Sebring. The weather certainly is nice. I’m really enjoying this and have done a huge amount of laps. It’s a nice car and not too hard to get into the groove. The whole Dyson team has been welcoming and the guys from Porsche have been fantastic.
“Both cars (the Acura and Porsche) are so different and there’s no full comparison to be made. There are so many great cars this year, and it’s going to be nip-and-tuck the whole way.”
Stefan Johansson, Patr¢n Highcroft Racing
Acura ARX-01b (LMP2)
“The track conditions seem to be more sensitive every time you go out. I’ve never seen it like this. We have a great sponsor in Patr¢n and a great image for the team. I think we have improved dramatically from last year and hopefully that will show.”
Dirk Werner, Farnbacher Loles Racing
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2)
“Free practice wasn't what we wanted it to be every session, but in the last free practice we showed our car is pretty good on one lap. We put new tires on the car before the last stint. It took me two laps until the tires were the right temperature, but then the car felt good. I don't know if the other teams that ran in front had new tires, too, so you have to keep that in mind when you compare the times. I think we will be okay for qualifying. We didn't work on the race setup, but we have a good driver pairing with Bryce and Marc, and with the experience the team has, I'm sure they can prepare a good car for the race.”
Gunnar Jeannette, Corsa Motorsports
Ferrari F430 GT (GT2)
“Days like these you can call racing a job. Other days, it’s fun. We’re a little behind where we wish we could be, and of course that is a disappointment, but Corsa Motorsports, Johnny (Mowlem), Ralf (Kelleners), and myself all know that it’s a part of the learning process and development of the tire and team. Johnny found some positives in the morning session and we’ll just continue to do our homework, compare notes, and hopefully move forward.”