Peugeot on top Thursday night in Sebring
The flip-flop at the top of the timing charts for the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida continued with Peugeot asserting itself in night practice for the season-opening race for the American Le Mans Series. Stephane Sarrazin posted a lap of 1:45.584 (126.155 mph) in the diesel-powered Peugeot 908 as teams got their first chance of the year to see Sebring International Raceway in the dark.
Sarrazin will team with Nic Minassian and Pedro Lamy as the Peugeot races for the first time in North America on Saturday. Sarrazin’s time was 0.859 seconds better than the lead Audi R10 TDI of Tom Kristensen, who will drive with defending Series P1 champions Allan McNish and Dindo Capello.
The order is the opposite of how the front row of the grid will look for the start of Saturday’s race. The Audi will start on the inside with the Peugeot on the outside.
The sister Audi of Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner was third overall and in LMP1 at 1:46.719 (124.814 mph).
A year after it won LMP2 in its Series debut, Andretti Green Racing went quickest in class. Marco Andretti toured the circuit in 1:47.902 (123.445 mph) for a 0.156-second margin over Penske Racing’s Porsche RS Spyder of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard.
Andretti, racing for the first time in the event that grandfather Mario won three times, will drive with Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi. Dyson Racing’s Porsche RS Spyder of Marino Franchitti, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace was third in P2 at 1:48.298 (122.994 mph).
Johnny O’Connell went fastest for Corvette Racing in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. The six-time Sebring class winner turned in a time of 1:57.954 (112.925 mph) as he prepares to make his record-setting 18th consecutive start at Sebring.
He was 0.568 seconds ahead of the sister Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis. The trio won in class at Sebring last year. O’Connell will drive with Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen.
Bell Motorsports was third in class with a 2:00.624 (110.362 mph) in its Aston Martin DBR9 of Terry Borcheller, Chapman Ducote and Antonio Garcia.
The battle between Porsche and Ferrari continued to rage as Jörg Bergmeister put Flying Lizard Motorsports’ No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at the head of GT2. The German posted a time of 2:02.449 (108.780 mph) in the entry he will share with Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb. Bergmeister was 0.280 seconds ahead of the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT of Jaime Melo, Mika Salo and Gianmaria Bruni.
The two teams fought to the end last year with Risi taking a 0.202-second GT2 win in the closest finish in race history.
Tafel Racing’s Ferrari was third in class Thursday night with Dirk Müller, Dominik Farnbacher and Rob Bell driving.