Kristensen Sets Pace During Hectic Night Practice

Tom Kristensen's Audi R18

Tom Kristensen’s Audi R18 was the only one of the three diesel-powered factory prototypes to emerge unscathed from a hectic nighttime practice session Thursday at Sebring International Raceway. The Dane made his fortunes count with the fastest time on the evening – a 1:47.049 in the Audi R18 that he will share with Allan McNish and Dindo Capello in Saturday’s 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

The riveting night practice ended a day that saw a different Audi lead each of the three practice sessions in the run-up to the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n and the FIA World Endurance Championship season-openers.

Kristensen was just 0.328 seconds clear of Andre Lotterer in the sister car at the end of the session that was extended 20 minutes due to multiple red-flag periods.

There was a bit of drama in the Audi camp a little more than midway through the session. Duval ran into the back of Nick Heidfeld’s Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota after Heidfeld had to stop in order to avoid NGT Motorsport’s spinning Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Loic Duval couldn’t get his car restarted and was hit from behind by Marcel Fassler – Lotterer’s teammate – in a second Audi.

Fassler’s car appeared to sustain the brunt of the impact with damage to the front end but was able to return. Duval wasn’t as lucky as his car didn’t turn another lap. It still held the third-fastest lap thanks to Duval’s time of 1:48.752.

Stephane Sarrazin posted the fastest P2 time on his second-to-last lap with a 1:51.824 in Starworks Motorsports’ HPD ARX-03b. The Frenchman was a second quicker than Oak Racing’s Olivier Pla in his Morgan-Judd with Ryan Hunter-Reay another 0.32 seconds back in the first of Level 5 Motorsports’ HPD prototypes.

Joey Hand fastest in GT

Joey Hand put BMW Team RLL on top in GT for the first time this week with a lap of 2:00.258. Hand and Dirk Mueller were part of the BMW’s class win in last year’s race, and the American led AF Corse’s Gimmi Bruni by 0.065 seconds Thursday night.

Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen sat third in class with a lap of 2:00.415 in his Corvette C6.R. The top four cars were within 0.17 seconds.


Raphael Matos went fasted in Prototype Challenge for Performance Tech Motorsports with a lap of 1:56.789. His time in the Performance Tech ORECA FLM09 put him 0.127 seconds quicker than Pablo Sanchez in the first of two Merchant Services Racing entries.

Dane Cameron was third-quickest for Dempsey Racing at 1:57.113.

Dominik Farnbacher set the fastest lap in GTE Am for Luxury Racing, the second time he did so on the day. His Ferrari F458 Italia turned a lap of 2:01.864 and put him 0.524 seconds ahead of Krohn Racing’s Nic Jonsson, also in a Ferrari.

TRG’s Spencer Pumpelly turned in the best GT Challenge lap on his final time around the circuit with a 2:07.623 in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. It was just enough to top Green Racing Hornet’s Sebastiaan Bleekemolen by 0.054 seconds.

The final practice session at Sebring is set for 9:55 a.m. ET. Qualifying will start at 3:20 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on ESPN3 in the United States and on outside the U.S.


Class Car Driver Car type Tire Time Behind Gap Laps
P1 2 Tom Kristensen Audi R18 M 01:47.0 – – – 0.00s 41
P1 1 Andre Lotterer Audi R18 M 01:47.4 0.33s 0.33s 36
P1 3 Loic Duval Audi R18 M 01:48.8 1.70s 1.38s 26
P1 6 Klaus Graf HPD ARX-03a M 01:49.9 2.86s 1.16s 25
P1 22 Karun Chandhok HPD ARX 03a M 01:51.5 4.41s 1.55s 28
P1 15 Bertrand Baguette Oak Pescarolo D 01:51.7 4.66s 0.25s 34
P1 12 Nick Heidfeld Lola B12/60 Coupé M 01:51.7 4.66s 0.00s 13
P2 44 Stephane Sarrazin HPD ARX 03b D 01:51.8 4.78s 0.12s 30
P1 21 Jonny Kane HPD ARX 03a M 01:52.9 5.80s 1.03s 22
P2 24 Olivier Pla Morgan D 01:52.9 5.82s 0.02s 32
P1 13 Jeroen Bleekemolen Lola B12/60 Coupé M 01:53.2 6.14s 0.32s 31
P2 95 Luis Diaz HPD ARX-03b D 01:53.2 6.14s 0.00s 27
P1 16 Jean-Christophe Boullion Pescarolo M 01:53.3 6.21s 0.07s 36
P1 16 Chris Dyson Lola B12/60 D 01:53.4 6.39s 0.17s 10
P2 55 Joao Barbosa HPD ARX-03b D 01:53.8 6.75s 0.36s 30
P2 23 Olivier Lombard Oreca 03 D 01:53.9 6.85s 0.10s 17
P2 49 Pierre Kaffer Oreca 03 D 01:54.9 7.82s 0.97s 31
P2 41 Elton Julian Zytek Z11SN D 01:55.3 8.26s 0.44s 20
P2 25 Robbie Kerr Oreca 03 D 01:55.4 8.30s 0.04s 29
P2 54 Bret Curtis ? 01:55.9 8.80s 0.50s 28
P2 37 David Heinemeier Hansson Morgan D 01:56.0 8.92s 0.12s 26
P2 31 Thomas Holzer Lola B12/80 Coupé D 01:56.2 9.19s 0.26s 38
PC 18 Raphael Matos Oreca FLM09 M 01:56.8 9.74s 0.56s 20
PC 7 Pablo Sanchez Oreca FLM09 M 01:56.9 9.87s 0.13s 31
PC 25 Richard/Ende/Cameron Oreca FLM09 M 01:57.1 10.06s 0.20s 17
PC 9 Bruno Junqueira Oreca FLM09 M 01:57.4 10.34s 0.27s 31
PC 8 Dean Stirling Oreca FLM09 M 01:57.5 10.45s 0.12s 25
PC 6 E.J. Viso Oreca FLM09 M 01:58.7 11.68s 1.23s 18
PC 52 Leitzinger/Dobson/Junco Oreca FLM09 M 01:59.6 12.55s 0.86s 12
GT 56 Joey Hand BMW E92 M3 D 02:00.3 13.21s 0.66s 32
GT 51 Gianmaria Bruni Ferrari F458 Italia M 02:00.3 13.27s 0.07s 38
GT 3 Antonio Garcia Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 M 02:00.4 13.37s 0.09s 22
GT 4 Oliver Gavin Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 M 02:00.4 13.38s 0.01s 31
PC 5 Colin Braun Oreca FLM09 M 02:00.9 13.85s 0.47s 19
GT 1 Johannes van Overbeek Ferrari F458 Italia M 02:01.3 14.22s 0.37s 30
PC 5 Memo Gidley Oreca FLM09 M 02:01.3 14.25s 0.02s 19
GT 97 Darren Turner Aston Martin Vantage M 02:01.4 14.34s 0.09s 23
GT 71 Olivier Beretta Ferrari F458 Italia M 02:01.5 14.49s 0.16s 32
GT 45 Jorg Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3 RSR M 02:01.8 14.80s 0.31s 10
GT 155 Uwe Alzen BMW E92 M3 D 02:01.9 14.81s 0.01s 30
GTE-AM 58 Pierre Ehret Ferrari F458 Italia M 02:01.9 14.82s 0.01s 34
GT 2 Jeff Segal Ferrari F458 Italia M 02:01.9 14.87s 0.05s 30
GT 77 Richard Lietz Porsche 911 RSR M 02:02.1 15.03s 0.16s 32
GTE-AM 57 Niclas Jonsson Ferrari F458 Italia D 02:02.4 15.34s 0.31s 29
GT 59 Jean-Karl Vernay Ferrari F458 Italia M 02:02.6 15.50s 0.16s 33
GT 17 Martin Ragginger Porsche 911 GT3 RSR F 02:02.7 15.64s 0.13s 17
GTE-AM 61 Michael Waltrip Ferrari F458 Italia M 02:03.7 16.61s 0.98s 21
GTE-AM 50 Julien Canal Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1 M 02:04.2 17.15s 0.54s 26
GTE-AM 88 Gianluca Roda Porsche 911 RSR M 02:04.7 17.66s 0.51s 31
GT 48 Bryce Miller Porsche 911 GT3 RSR D 02:04.9 17.82s 0.16s 26
GTE-AM 70 Pascal Gibon Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1 M 02:05.3 18.24s 0.42s 20
P2 28 Maxime Jousse Lola B12/80 Coupé D 02:05.5 18.43s 0.19s 7
GTE-AM 55 Joel Camathias Porsche 911 RSR P 02:05.6 18.58s 0.15s 34
GT 44 Andy Lally Porsche 911 GT3 RSR M 02:05.6 18.60s 0.02s 6
GTC 66 Spencer Pumpelly Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:07.6 20.57s 1.98s 28
GTC 34 Sebastiaan Bleekemolen Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:07.7 20.63s 0.05s 24
GTC 22 LP Dumoulin Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:08.0 20.94s 0.32s 26
GTC 11 Mark Bullitt Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:08.3 21.22s 0.27s 26
GTC 23 Sweedler/Bell/von Moltke Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:09.0 21.92s 0.71s 14
GTC 24 Cort Wagner Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:11.0 23.91s 1.99s 12
GTC 32 Alex Welch Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:11.7 24.65s 0.73s 16
GTC 31 Angel Andres Benitez Jr. Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:12.9 25.84s 1.19s 17
GTC 30 Carlos Kauffmann Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Y 02:13.0 25.96s 0.12s 21
P2 29 Keiko Ihara Lola B12/80 Coupé D 02:45.7 58.70s 32.74s 5

Tom Kristensen, Audi Sport Team Joest
No. 2 Audi R18 (P1)
“Everyone has prepared hard as you can see with the turnout and more than 60 cars. You can call it action-packed or you can call it a nightmare. It is really difficult to find your way around here with that many cars. It’s a big challenge to run competitive lap times with that traffic. In the night practice, everything didn’t go completely smooth for all of us at Audi. With these type of cars, we have bad visibility and our sister cars No. 1 and No. 3 had contact with the Rebellion car at Turn 7. It is tough to see through there. So it was bad luck for one of them who couldn’t get out again. Generally we are pretty happy and we were fastest in the night. It is a tough race and you need to be spot-on. It looks like the other cars in the P1 class can go further on their fuel than we can. So that could be a strategic advantage for them in the race."

Luis Diaz, Level 5 Motorsports
HPD ARX-03b (P2)
“Ryan and I were about the same in speed tonight. We are happy with the performance of the car and the team. But it is going to be a very busy race for us for us and the many cars and traffic. The race will be physically challenging but tough mentally too. Because you have to be aware of everything around you with just so many cars. Things are happening already on the track. I saw three or four times that cars are getting together and it is only Thursday. Could somebody tell them that the race is on Saturday, please? This is a 12-hour race. We need to stay on the lead lap for the first eight hours, then we need to press for the first eight hours, then we push hard for the finish. We can’t get too aggressive too early in the race. But I think we can win it."

Andy Lally, Flying Lizard Motorsports
No. 44 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT)
“It’s been a pretty productive week so far with us here at Flying Lizard. We’re still sorting out a couple of little new car issues but a lot of it is just getting myself, Seth (Neiman) and Darren (Law) all on the same page and working together. We’re liking the changes we’ve made since yesterday. So far, so good. I like the car. It’s my first time ever driving an RSR after all of these years. It’s going in the right direction and I think it will be decent for the race."

Bryan Sellers, Team Falken Tire
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT)
“So far things are going OK. We have had some problems through the week trying to get the balance right but I feel like we have constantly been gaining ground. It’s a new car and a new tire for us so it’s always going to be a little bit of a struggle to get a hold of everything. We’re making progress and this is the best the Falken Porsche has been to-date. We still have some room to improve but we’re better than we were a few days ago."

The 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n begins with the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on Saturday on March 17. The race, set for 10:30 a.m. ET, will be broadcast at noon March 18 on ABC and shown live on ESPN3.

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