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ALMS Sebring Winter Test Thursday Notebook
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing had a successful roll-out of its new Honda Performance Development prototype Thursday with the fastest time of the annual Sebring Winter Test for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n. Lucas Luhr set the fastest time in the HPD ARX-03a with a 1:48.192 at Sebring International Raceway.

Luhr drove with Klaus Graf and Simon Pagenaud. Thursday marked the first time the 2012-spec HPD sports car turned a lap anywhere in the world.

“It’s awesome. This is one of the best Wirth cars I’ve driven,” said Pagenaud, who has driven three previous HPD/Acura prototypes, including last year’s ARX-01e. “It’s such a big evolution from last year’s car. The engine gives us good power, the front splitter gives the car additional downforce and the new tub gives us better efficiency as well. It’s generally the same aero package as the car we ran last year.”

Waltrip Gets His Bearings: There definitely is a “cool” factor of racing at Sebring International Raceway. The latest to be bitten by the bug is Michael Waltrip, who drove his first laps around America's bumpiest road course Thursday morning. The two-time Daytona 500 winner is eyeing his first start in America’s greatest sports car race following the second day of testing at Sebring.

“There’s a lot more turns than I thought!” Waltrip said. “I haven’t really had a chance to experience it yet because I’m constantly trying to figure out where I am. I’ve gone really slow. I’m still learning the turns. I can’t imagine how fun it’s going to be when I know the turns and I’m able to commit to them and get on the gas and go.”

Quick Krohn: Ferrari held the top three spots in GT on Thursday. Ferrari’s factory development car led Extreme Speed Motorsports and Krohn Racing in the standings. It was quite an accomplishment for the Krohn team, which is racing the Ferrari F458 Italia for the first time in 2012. Last year the team won the GTE-Am class at Sebring and Petit Le Mans with a Ferrari F430 GT.

“I thought the car would feel similar but it really does not,” said team owner Tracy Krohn. “The balance and braking are different. It’s a quick car for sure and a lot of downforce.”

“You can definitely tell the 458 is a new generation race car,” teammate Nic Jonsson said. “Obviously one of the most significant changes in the car is the paddle shift instead of stick shift. I think the ergonomics inside the car, the way you fit in the car and how it is laid out with all the switches is well thought through. It’s a much better package. I think it’s going to be an awesome car when we get everything sorted out and more familiar with it.”

Pit Notes: Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Andy Lally is no stranger driving Porsches at Sebring. The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is the fourth type of Porsche he will pilot in the 12 Hours. Previously he has driven the Porsche RS Spyder prototype, a Porsche 911 GT3 RS and a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. … Sebring International Raceway and Adobe Road Winery announced that Adobe’s Redline blend will serve as the commemorative for the 60th anniversary of America’s greatest sports car race.

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