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Audi Again Strong At Sebring Practice

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 14 2012

Audi has another good day as Sebring practice continues. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)


Audi Sport Team Joest ended Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway the same way it closed Monday – with the top three times in testing for America’s greatest sports car race. The Audi R18 of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish set the best time of the day at 1:48.138 (124.508 mph) as all of the German factory prototypes were under the 1:49 mark in the final test for the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

The race is the opening round for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Audi is at Sebring looking for its first win in the 12 Hours since 2009. The R18 of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Loic Duval – a winner last year in Team ORECA Matmut’s Peugeot – was second at 1:48.410 (124.195 mph). The trio of Marcel Faessler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer sat third, 0.701 seconds off the pace of the lead Audi.

“The Audi Sport team has prepared last year’s Audi R18 for the new regulations, and they have fit really well from the go,” Kristensen said. “The first two days here have been constructive. We have three cars starting out more or less with the same set up, and we been trying a few different things. With three cars we learn things faster. To be one, two, three is maybe not a surprise, but that we have a little bit of gap now is a surprise to us at this stage. But let’s see how it will proceed for the entire week. Alan was fastest yesterday, I was fastest today, Dindo had a long run in, so for our car too, we feel we have a good base to start the rest of the official week and the first world championship race on American ground with the American Le Mans Series.”

There was a spirited fight for the best of the non-diesel runners. Dyson Racing’s 2012-spec Lola-Mazda shared by Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Steven Kane was fourth at 1:50.243 (122.130 mph). Two of the new HPD ARX-03as were next from Strakka Racing and Muscle Milk Pickett Racing.

“Like at all our races, the important factor will be to stay out of trouble but with so many cars entered into this race with the WEC teams here, dealing with the traffic will be that much more challenging,” Lucas Luhr of the Muscle Milk team said. “We’re really looking forward to the race but I think everyone at Muscle Milk Pickett Racing will be happy once the race is over because it has been a hectic last couple of months for them with very little time off and we would like nothing more than to give the guys a great result to thank them for all their hard work.”

The top three cars in P2 were within 0.362 seconds. Pecom Racing’s ORECA-Nissan of Luis Perez Companc, Pierre Kaffer and Soheil Ayari led the way at 1:53.527 (118.597 mph) followed by a pair of HPD ARX-03bs. Level 5’s entry of Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa was second with a lap of 1:53.883. Starworks Motorsports’ HPD of Ryan Dalziel, Vicente Potolicchio and Stephane Sarrazin moved into the third on the car’s last lap.

The GT battle was as tight as ever with Ferraris leading the way. AF Corse’s F458 Italia of Gimmi Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander went quickest at 2:01.097 (111.184 mph), just 0.043 seconds ahead of Luxury Racing’s entry.

Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Jörg Bergmesiter, Patrick Long and Marco Holzer ended the session third at 2:01.341 (110.960 mph) which was just 0.074 seconds ahead of BMW Team RLL’s leading BMW M3 GT of Jörg Müller, Bill Auberlen and Uwe Alzen. The top eight cars were within 0.879 seconds.

CORE autosport’s lead ORECA FLM09 led the Prototype Challenge following a lap of 1:55.473 (116.599 mph) for the car of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and Eric Lux. The CORE car was more than a second clear of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ entry of Butch Leitzinger, Rudy Junco and Ken Dobson. Merchant Services Racing – making its ALMS debut – sat third at 1:56.804 (115.270 mph). Chapman Ducote, Javier Echeverria and Pablo Sanchez are sharing the car.

Krohn Racing, last year’s GTE Am winner at Sebring, was quickest in the class at 2:02.991 (109.471 mph) with its Ferrari F458 Italia of Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Michele Rugolo. Larbre Competition’s lead Corvette C6.R of Patrick Bornhauser, Julian Canal and Pedro Lamy was just 0.203 seconds behind.

Green Hornet Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup set the pace in GT Challenge. The car of Peter LeSaffre, Damien Faulkner and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen turned a lap of 2:07.841 (105.318 mph). TRG’s trio of Spencer Pumpelly, Emilio Di Guida and Marc Bunting trailed by only 0.151 seconds. JDX Racing’s Porsche of Chris Cumming, Marc Bullitt and Kevin Estre sat third at 2:08.230 (104.999 mph).

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 14 2012
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