V12-powered screamer sets pace at Sebring
It didn't take long for Adrian Fernandez and Aston Martin Racing to find their comfort zone at Sebring International Raceway. The exquisite Aston Martin-powered Lola coupe was the quickest car on the first day of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n's annual Winter Test at Sebring.
The two-day test in a warm-up for the Series' 2010 opener, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.
The screaming V12-powered Lola-Aston Martin prototype turned a best lap of 1:47.826 (123.532 mph) in the day's first four-hour session. Fernandez, last year's LMP2 winner at Sebring, got his first taste of driving the Aston Martin Racing factory car. He is driving with Harold Primat and Stefan Mücke.
Interestingly, the three quickest cars all set their fastest times of the day in the four-hour morning session. Another Lola - Intersport Racing's AER-powered Lola B06/10 was second fastest on the day at 1:48.066 (123.258 mph). The father-son duo of Jon and Clint Field handled most of the driving.
Patr¢n Highcroft Racing, last year's LMP1 champion, sat third with a best lap of 1:48.263 (123.034 mph) with its HPD ARX-01c prototype. David Brabham - a former Sebring class winner - is driving with new teammate Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti.
The Patr¢n Highcroft entry was the quickest LMP2 car, followed by Team Cytosport's Porsche RS Spyder - driven by Greg Pickett, Klaus Graf and Sascha Maassen - at 1:49.187 (121.993 mph). Dyson Racing's Mazda-powered Lola B10/86 coupe was third at 1:50.261 (120.804 mph). Team regulars Chris Dyson and Guy Smith drove the car with newcomer Andy Meyrick.
Green Earth Team Gunnar was the quickest of the new Le Mans Prototype Challenge teams at 1:57.131 (113.285 mph)with Gunner Jeannette, Christian Zugel and Elton Julian driving. Each LMPC team has entered an ORECA FLM09 prototype that will race for the first time in North America this year.
Genoa Racing was second in class with sports car legend Andy Wallace shaking down the car. The Genoa entry's best time was a 1:57.580 (113.285 mph), nearly a full 0.7 seconds quicker than Primetime Race Group's entry of Joel Feinberg and Kyle Marcelli.
In GT2, Risi Competizione's pairing of Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni went quickest in their Ferrari F430 GT. The Risi squad, which hasn't lost an endurance race since Sebring 2008, posted a best time of 2:02.286 (108.925 mph).
The top three were within a second of each other. One of BMW Rahal Letterman Racing's BMW M3s - the car of Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner - was second with Flying Lizard Motorsports' Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of defending class champions Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long third.
In the GT Challenge class, Darrell Carlisle was the quickest driver with a lap of 2:07.902 (104.142 mph) for Kelly Moss racing. Teammate Peter LeSaffre was less than 0.6 seconds back and just ahead of GMG Racing's Brent Holden.
Testing continues Tuesday from Sebring starting at 8 a.m. ET.
Adrian Fernandez, Aston Martin Racing
Lola-Aston Martin B09/86 (LMP1)
"I'm very happy; you know it's a very, very professional team. I'm very happy to be able to extend my career in such a professional team and a brand that has so much history and charisma with the fans. I'm very happy to be here."
Driving a closed-top car: "It's very different. Everything looks different inside. You get use to it. But it's definitely different, and this is my first time in the car and the car is a lot heavier than the P2 car I drove last year. But it's a lot faster. It sounds beautiful and looks sharp.
"I'm enjoying every second of it. I'm very happy. It's a great team, great drivers, and I'm very happy to work with them. It's my very first time in the car, I'm not really going the proper speed yet. But I'm working step-by- step, so I'm looking forward to the three-year relationship.
"The last race was Laguna Seca, so it's been a while since I last tested. I feel good. I've been training hard the last month to make sure I'm fit for the test and so far I'm feeling good."
Shane Lewis, Velox Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC)
"I think (the GTC Challenge class) is a great concept by the American Le Mans Series. It's really - what in our times where we're at with the series - it's exactly what the series needs. We're a little bit concerned about the brakes for the 12 Hours. We're not too sure if a Cup car can compete with the other ones. But all in all, I can do nothing but congratulate ALMS on the concept of the class, and I just can't wait to get out there and compete in the 12 Hours.
"I love winter testing. I'm Floridian so I only live a couple hours away. For me it's great. A lot of the crew, they're from Canada and Ohio so they came from everywhere where there is massive amounts of snow. So I think they are happier than I am. It's a great way to shake all the stuff down and get everything ready."
Greg Pickett, Team Cytosport
Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2)
Sebring is notoriously difficult, as everyone knows. We came down here and tested a couple weeks ago. It's all about getting the car to work over the bumps. It's very difficult. Other than Le Mans, which we ran a couple of years ago, this is the next most difficult race we'll run - much more than even a race like Petit Le Mans. This surface is so challenging."
Scott Sharp, Extreme Speed Motorsports
Ferrari F430 GT (GT2)
"The Ferrari is really well-balanced and very nice over the bumps compared to some of the other cars I've driven here. We've all been working hard as a team being brand new. We tested here a few times over the winter and it's great to be here with other teams on the track."