Mar 16

12 Hours of Sebring: Audi, Muscle Milk, Ferrari lead Sebring qualifying

Grid set for 2012 ALMS and FIA WEC opener

12 Hours of Sebring MuscleMilk12 Hours of Sebring - 60 ansAndre Lotterer led an Audi sweep of the top three positions in qualifying Friday for the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. It was an expected result for the mighty trio of diesel-powered prototypes, and Lotterer led the German factory squad with a lap of 1:45.820 (127.235 mph) in the Audi R18 he drives with Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. The three seek to add a Sebring victory to their win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year.

Lotterer led a 64-car qualifying grid that combines the fields of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the FIA World Endurance Championship. Tom Kristensen qualified second at 1:46.215 (126.762 mph) with Romain Dumas 0.72 seconds further back. Lotterer’s quick lap was more than enough to offset an early-session penalty for speeding in pitlane.

12 Hours of Sebring Qualifying-031612-main1

“Usually the pit limiter is always on, but it wasn’t that time. That was my mistake for not noticing. It didn’t really make my life more difficult. The car ran great and I was able to get in a good lap. This pole is really nice for the staff as the guys work so hard to prepare for this race.”

After the three Audis, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s Klaus Graf was the fastest non-diesel entry at 1:47.536 (125.205 mph). He drives the team’s HPD ARX-03a with Lucas Luhr and Simon Pagenaud. Graf was the quickest qualifier from the ALMS, and his performance was remarkable given that the Muscle Milk got its car less than two months ago.

“A new car is always a lot of work,” Graf said. “Everyone involved such as Wirth Research, HPD and the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing have put a lot of effort into it for this event. It was a big effort to first get the car running, then testing and how to set up. And now this is a reward for us including our partners, Michelin, with the tires. This is a small team for a 12-hour race. This gives us motivation for the whole team. Our team has worked more than 100 hours since we got here on Saturday. It is so hard to prepare these cars for a race like this one since they are so new.”

P1 cars took the top 10 spots. Olivier Pla was the quickest P2 qualifier thanks to a lap of 1:50.467 (121.883 mph) in Oak Racing’s Morgan-Judd. He was 0.356 seconds clear of ex-Peugeot factory driver Stephane Sarrazin in Starworks Motorsports’ HPD ARX-03b. Elton Julian, a regular last year in the ALMS’ Prototype Challenge class, was third in P2 qualifying Friday at 1:51.809 (120.420 mph).

“I had a chance to test here before, so I had a pretty good idea of the circuit,” Pla said. “I was really looking forward to racing here. The car is amazing. We had an incident on Monday and our team did a great job to get the car back and ready to go. The car felt perfect in qualifying.”

Christophe Bouchut led the ALMS’ contingent in the class with a lap of 1:52.129 (120.076 mph) in Level 5 Motorsports’ No. 055 HPD ARX-03b. He had just set his quick time when he clipped the inside of T1 and went hard into the outside tire wall. Bouchut said a fellow P2 car rejoined the race line too soon after exiting the pits and forced him to take an evasive maneuver.

“From my perspective, at that time, there was nothing else I could do or else the car would have hit me and then it would have been worse than what happened,” Bouchut said. “Everybody has to watch their mirrors – especially in qualifying; you have nothing to win on your first lap.”

Team manager David Stone said he feels confident that the team has the necessary spare parts – the engine cover was the main concern – to fix the car and make Saturday’s race.

“I know the guys can put the labor and effort in to get it back together,” he said. “If we don’t get tricked by not having a critical part, then I think we’ll have it back together.”

Bouchut’s time was 0.364 seconds clear of Conquest Racing’s Martin Plowman in the team’s Morgan-Judd. He was the second-quickest ALMS driver in P2.

Gimmi Bruni was the fastest GTE Pro driver with a lap of 1:58.427 (113.690 mph) for AF Corse as Ferrari F458 Italias took the top two spots in the GT class. The Italian was the pole-winner last year in the a Ferarri F430 GT – also for AF Corse. Bruni finished 0.296 seconds clear of Luxury Racing’s Jaime Melo.

“GT this year is a real fighting class – very good,” Bruni said. “The level is getting higher and higher, and we have been working so hard to be there and it is a good starting point for Ferrari and AF Corse, for sure. It will be a good fight tomorrow. Hopefully we can last for all 12 hours and make a great maneuver for the spectators to enjoy the racing.”

12 Hours of Sebring Corvettes

Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen qualified third in class and was the ALMS’ fastest driver in the production-based class. He set a lap of 1:58.996 (113.147 mph) in the Corvette C6.R that he is sharing with Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor. Magnussen was just 0.011 seconds clear of Oliver Gavin in the sister Corvette.

Both Corvettes went all-out. Magnussen ran out of E85 on his cool-down lap, and Gavin got back to pitlane on fumes.

“I don’t think we made the best of (qualifying) at the time, but we made the best of it at the end,” said Magnussen, who overtook Gavin for third on his final flying lap. “It is super competitive and we have to be 100 percent every time we go out. Qualifying is the first time for everyone to show what they can really do and I think it will be 12 hours of really hard racing.”

Bruno Junqueira earned his first ALMS pole in his qualifying debut in Prototype Challenge. The former open-wheel star set a lap of 1:54.510 (117.579 mph) in RSR Racing’s ORECA FLM09. Junqueira, a past championship runner-up in Champ Car, was 0.045 seconds clear of CORE autosport’s E.J. Viso – another open-wheel regular.

Junqueira, teaming with Tomy Drissi and Roberto Gonzalez at Sebring, drove for RSR last year in a Jaguar as part of the ALMS’ GT class. He said the team has a much better competitive advantage with equal cars in their new class.

“This pole gives our team some good morale for this race,” Junqueira said. “The team told me to be patient and bring the car home and we will be fine. This is the first time I have driven this car. I love it. On the first lap, I felt the brakes and they were great. They really worked well. So I said, ‘Hey, it’s race time. So let’s go.’ And the car was great. Now, we are ready for the race. It should be exciting.”

Dane Cameron qualified third for Dempsey Racing at 1:54.628 (117.458 mph) – only 0.118 seconds off the PC pace. The top five cars in the class were within 0.698 seconds.

Dominik Farnbacher was the fastest GTE Am qualifier with a lap of 2:00.184 (112.028 mph) in Luxury Racing’s Ferrari F458 Italia. He was 0.745 seconds clear of Krohn Racing’s Nic Jonsson in another Ferrari. The gap was similar from Jonsson back to Pedro Lamy in Larbre Competition’s Corvette C6.R.

“My first Sebring race was in 2004 and it really impressed me because in Europe we do not have such bumpy racetracks like here,” Farnbacher said. “The first year after I did it, I really felt it in my back at the end of the race and I still do. This is going to be one for the history books. It is the biggest field ever and the toughest one to beat.”

Sean Edwards won pole position in GT Challenge during a fantastically close session. Edwards, driving NGT Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, set a lap of 2:06.674 (106.289 mph) in the car he will share with Henrique Cisneros and Carlos Kauffmann.

Only 0.037 seconds separated the top three runners in GTC. Damien Faulkner was second for Green Hornet Racing. Alex Job Racing was next at 2:06.711 (106.258 mph). All told, the top six GTC cars were separated by just 0.760 seconds.

“It is a really difficult track and the team has put together a good car,” Edwards said. “There is not a huge amount we can adjust on the GTC cars so it is just about putting a lap together. (Managing traffic) is going to be tough. You are going to see quite a battle out there. And with the traffic of 64 cars, it is going to be tough. You’ve got to keep your nose clean. Stay out of trouble in the first 10 hours and then see where you are.”

The 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón begins with the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, 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.

The race is available to international audiences on MotorsTV in Europe, Fox Latin America, Rogers Sportnet in Canada, ESPN International, Fox Mideast and on ALMS.com.

Visit ALMS.com for information on tickets and area accommodations. Follow the Series on Twitter (@almsnotes, #Sebring12), Facebook and our official YouTube channel.

12 Hours of Sebring Audi-01

60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring

Fueled by Fresh From Florida

Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Fla.

Friday’s qualifying

1. Andre Lotterer, Duisburg, DE (DE); Benoit Treluyer, Alencon, FR (FR); Marcel Fassler, Switzerland (SWI); Audi R18 (P1), 1:45.820, 125.874

2. Allan McNish, Scotland (SCO); Tom Kristensen, Denmark (DEN); Dindo Capello, Italy (ITA); Audi R18 (P1), 1:46.215, 125.406

3. Timo Bernhard, Germany (GER); Romain Dumas, France (FRA); Loic Duval, France (FR); Audi R18 (P1), 1:46.935, 124.562

4. Lucas Luhr, Germany (GER); Klaus Graf, Germany (GER); Simon Pagenaud, France (FRA); HPD ARX-03a (P1), 1:47.536, 123.865

5. Guillaume Moreau, FRA (FRA); Bertrand Baguette, BEL (BEL); Dominik Kraihamer, AUT (AUT); Oak Pescarolo Judd (P1), 1:48.319, 122.970

6. David Brabham, Australia (AUS); Karun Chandhok, IND (IND); Peter Dumbreck, Scotland (SCO); HPD ARX-03a Honda (P1), 1:48.439, 122.834

7. Nick Leventis, GBR (GBR); Danny Watts, UK (UK); Jonny Kane, Ireland (IRE); HPD ARX-03a Honda (P1), 1:48.590, 122.663

8. Nicolas Prost (FR); Neel Jani (FR); Nick Heidfeld (DEU); Lola B12/60 Coupe Toyota (P1), 1:48.630, 122.618

9. Andrea Belicchi, Itally (IT); Harold Primat, Switzerland (SWI); Joeren Bleekemolen, Netherlands (NED); Lola B12/60 Coupe Toyota (P1), 1:48.956, 122.251

10. Emmanuel Collard, France (FRA); Jean-Christophe Boullion, Plaisir, France (FRA); Julien Jousse, FRA (FRA); Pescarolo Judd (P1), 1:50.200, 120.871

11. Jacques Nicolet, Paris, France (FRA); Mattieu Lahaye (FRA); Olivier Pla (FRA); Morgan/Judd (P2), 1:50.467, 120.579

12. Vicente Potolicchio (VEN); Ryan Dalziel (SCO); Stephane Sarrazin (FRA); HPD ARX-03b Honda (P2), 1:50.823, 120.192

13. Christian Zugel (DEU); Ricardo Gonzalez (MEX); Elton Julian, Los Angeles, CA (USA); Zytek Z11SN-Nissan (P2), 1:51.809, 119.132

14. Jordan Tresson, FRA (FRA); Franck Mailleux (FRA); Olivier Lombard, Poissy, France (FRA); Oreca 03 Nissan (P2), 1:52.084, 118.839

15. John Martin (AUS); Tor Graves (GBR); Robbie Kerr (GBR); Oreca 03 Nissan (P2), 1:52.113, 118.809

16. Scott Tucker (US); Christophe Bouchut, France (FRA); Joao Barbosa, Portugal (POR); HPD ARX-03b (P2), 1:52.129, 118.792

17. Martin Plowman, Indianapolis, IN (USA); David Heinemeier Hansson (USA); Francesco Dracone, Alba, Italy (ITA); Morgan/Judd (P2), 1:52.493, 118.407

18. Scott Tucker (US); Luis Diaz, Mexico (MEX); Ryan Hunter-Reay, Boca Raton (USA); HPD ARX-03b (P2), 1:52.659, 118.233

19. Luis Companc (ARG); Pierre Kaffer (GER); Soheil Ayari, Aix-les-Bains, Savoie (FRA); Oreca/Nissan (P2), 1:52.763, 118.124

20. Thomas Holzer (DEU); Mirco Schultis (DEU); Luca Moro (ITA); Lola B12/80 Coupe Lotus (P2), 1:53.080, 117.793

21. Bruno Junqueira (BRA); Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, CA (USA); Roberto Gonzalez (MEX); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:54.510, 116.322

22. Alex Papow (VEN); E.J. Viso (VEN); Burt Frisselle, Kihei, HI (USA); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:54.555, 116.276

23. Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY (USA); Guy Smith, Beverley, UK (ENG); Steven Kane, Newtownards, IRE (IRE); Lola B12/60 Mazda (P1), 1:54.593, 116.237

24. Henri Richard (FRA); Duncan Ende, Los Angeles (USA); Dane Cameron, Sonom, CA (US); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:54.628, 116.202

25. Chapman Ducote, Miami, FL (USA); Javier Echeverria (MEX); Pablo Sanchez (MEX); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:55.160, 115.665

26. Jon Bennett (USA); Colin Braun, Ovalo, TX (USA); Eric Lux, Jacksonville, FL (USA); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:55.208, 115.617

27. Michael Guasch, Palo Alto, CA (USA); Memo Gidley, San Rafael, CA (USA); Roger Wills, Timaru, New Zealand (NZL); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:55.420, 115.405

28. Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA (USA); Ken Dobson, Carmel Valley, CA (US); Rudy Junco Jr. (MEX); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:55.460, 115.365

29. Kyle Marcelli (CAN); Lucas Downs, North Mankoto, MN (USA); Dean Stirling (GBR); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:55.654, 115.171

30. Anthony Nicolosi, Brooklyn, NY (US); Ricardo Vera (PR); Raphael Matos (BRA); Oreca FLM09 (PC), 1:55.848, 114.978

31. Giancarlo Fisichella , Rome, Italy (ITA); Gianmaria Bruni (ITA); Toni Vilander (FIN); Ferrari F458 GT (GT), 1:58.427, 112.474

32. Frederic Makowiecki (FRA); Jaime Melo (BRA); Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA); Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:58.723, 112.194

33. Jan Magnussen (DEN); Antonio Garcia (ESP); Jordan Taylor, Apopka, FL (USA); Corvette C6-ZR1 (GT), 1:58.996, 111.937

34. Oliver Gavin (GBR); Tom Milner, Leesburg, VA (USA); Richard Westbrook (GBR); Corvette C6-ZR1 (GT), 1:59.007, 111.926

35. Andrea Bertolini (ITA); Olivier Beretta (MON); Marco Cioci (ITA); Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:59.084, 111.854

36. Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA (USA); Dirk Mueller (DEU); Jonathon Summerton (USA); BMW E92 M3 (GT), 1:59.776, 111.208

37. Scott Sharp, Jupiter, FL (USA); Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA (USA); Guy Cosmo, Long Island, NY; Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 2:00.094, 110.913

38. Jorg Bergmeister (DEU); Patrick Long, Oak Park, CA (USA); Marco Holzer (AUT); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 2:00.119, 110.890

39. Stefan Mucke (DEU); Adrian Fernandez (MEX); Darren Turner (GBR); Aston Martin Vantage V8 (GT), 2:00.174, 110.839

40. Pierre Ehret, Santa Rosa, CA (DEU); Dominik Farnbacher, Germany (DEU); Francois Jakubowski (FRA); Ferrari F458 Italia (GTE-AM), 2:00.184, 110.830

41. Richard Lietz (AUT); Marc Lieb (DEU); Patrick Pilet (FRA); Porsche 911 RSR 997 (GT), 2:00.256, 110.764

42. Jorg Muller, Germany (DUE); Bill Auberlen, Hermosa Beach, CA (USA); Uwe Alzen, Germany (DUE); BMW E92 M3 (GT), 2:00.337, 110.689

43. Ed Brown, Las Vegas, NV (USA); Jeff Segal, Miami, FL (USA); Anthony Lazzaro, Acworth, GA (USA); Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 2:00.344, 110.683

44. Tracy Krohn, Houston, TX (USA); Nic Jonsson (SWE); Michele Rugulo (ITA); Ferrari F458 Italia (GTE-AM), 2:00.929, 110.147

45. Wolf Henzler (DEU); Bryan Sellers, Centerville, OH (USA); Martin Ragginger (AUT); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 2:01.632, 109.511

46. Patrick Bornhauser (FRA); Julien Canal, Le Mans, France (FRA); Pedro Lamy, Lisbon Portugal (POR); Corvette C6-ZR1 (GTE-AM), 2:01.640, 109.503

47. Christian Ried, Schoeneburg, Germany (DEU); Gianluca Roda, Como, Italy (ITA); Paolo Ruberti (ITA); Porsche 911 RSR 997 (GTE-AM), 2:01.787, 109.371

48. Bryce Miller, Hoboken, NJ (USA); Sascha Maassen (DEU); Robert Bell (GBR); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 2:02.150, 109.046

49. Christophe Bourret (FRA); Pascal Gibon (FRA); Jean-Philippe Belloc (FRA); Corvette C6-ZR1 (GTE-AM), 2:02.732, 108.529

50. Robert Kauffman (USA); Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, KY (USA); Rui Aguas (PRT); Ferrari F458 Italia (GTE-AM), 2:03.331, 108.002

51. William Binnie, Portsmouth, NH (USA); Markus Palttala (FIN); Joel Camathias, Switzerland (CHE); Porsche 911 RSR 997 (GTE-AM), 2:04.342, 107.124

52. Henrique Cisneros, Miami, FL (USA); Sean Edwards (GBR); Carlos Kauffmann, Miami, FL (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:06.674, 105.152

53. Peter Lesaffre, Rye, NH (USA); Damien Faulkner (IRE); Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (NED); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:06.697, 105.133

54. Cooper MacNeil (USA); Leh Keen, Dublin, GA (USA); LP Dumoulin (CAN); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:06.711, 105.121

55. Bill Sweedler, Westport, CT (USA); Townsend Bell, Santa Monica, CA (USA); Dion von Moltke, Coral Gables, FL (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:07.016, 104.869

56. Chris Cumming, Vancouver, BC (CAN); Mark Bullitt, Miami, FL (USA); Kevin Estre (FRA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:07.264, 104.664

57. Darren Law, Phoenix, AZ (USA); Seth Neiman, Burlingame, CA (USA); Andy Lally, New York, NY (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 2:07.354, 104.590

58. Angel Andres Benitez, Jr (VEN); Angel Raphael Benitez, Sr (VEN); Nicki Thiim (DEN); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:07.434, 104.525

59. Spencer Pumpelly, Mason Neck, VA (USA); Emilio Di Guida (VEN); Marc Bunting, Monkton, MD (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:07.550, 104.430

60. James Sofronas, Newport Beach, CA (USA); Alex Welch (USA); Rene Villeneuve (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:08.607, 103.571

61. Bob Faieta, Tujunga, CA (USA); Michael Aventatti (USA); Cort Wagner, Pacific Palisades, CA (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 2:08.792, 103.423

62. Tim Pappas, Boston, MA (USA); Brett Curtis, Valencia, CA (USA); Jon Fogarty, Los Gatos, CA (USA); Lola B11/80 HPD (P2), 2:35.156, 85.849

63. Frederic Fatien (CIV); Keiko Ihara (JPN); Jean-Denis Deletraz (CHE); Lola B12/80 Coupe Nissan (P2), 14:43.720, 15.073

64. Maxime Jousse (FRA); Fabien Giroix, Saint-Maur, France (FRA); Stefan Johansson (SWE); Lola B12/80 Coupe Nissan (P2).

source: americanlemans.com

Pla claims LMP2 pole as Moreau tops WEC petrol class at Sebring

OAK Racing produced a stunning collective qualifying performance at Sebring today to ensure that both the team’s prototypes will start at the sharp end for the opening round of this year’s World Endurance Championship.

With the two prototype classes split, it was Olivier Pla who set the scene for a memorable day by claiming class pole position at the wheel of the all-new Onroak Automotive-designed and built #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2. Following a slow out-lap in search of space, the Frenchman exploded into life to set the fastest lap of the week so far, a 1m50.467, just as red flags for an accident at Turn 1 brought the session to a premature close.

It was a proud moment for the team who had worked tirelessly throughout the week’s four practice sessions after a sizeable accident cost considerable track time on Monday and Tuesday. Pole position also ensures that OAK Racing is the first LMP2 team to score a point in the re-launched World Endurance Championship.

Having seen his team-mate deliver a headline grabbing time, Guillaume Moreau set off in pursuit of one of his own in the OAK-Pescarolo LMP1. With the factory might of Audi’s diesel-powered trio to contend with, as well as a host of seasoned ALMS outfits, replicating his colleague’s feat perhaps looked like a long shot.

But despite the odds, Moreau produced two fast and consistent laps – his best of the week a 1m48.319 – to end up fastest of the WEC petrol-powered entries and fifth overall.

Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal: “It’s been a great day, especially in LMP2 with the pole position. It was very risky with the red flag. Olivier only had one flying lap to do the time and he crossed the line with just five seconds to spare! In that regard we were a bit lucky but at least we could demonstrate the performance of the car, which is very competitive. Tomorrow is a very, very long race so it’s a completely different story. As for LMP1, I think Guillaume did a brilliant job today. Obviously it’s impossible to catch the Audis but we have a strong car and three good drivers who are very consistent, as well as a car that’s predictable and easy to drive. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Guillaume Moreau, #15 OAK-Pescarolo: “I did say ‘wait and see’ after practice this morning! We knew the HPD guys would be fast, especially the Muscle Milk car with the team’s knowledge of the circuit, so I am not disappointed to be behind them and the Audis. We’re ahead of a lot of big names and can be proud of a job well done today. But qualifying is one thing and the race quite another. Having said that I am confident of the car’s race pace which looks very strong.”

Olivier Pla, #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “I had a clear lap and made the most of it. We’ve worked hard to improve the set-up which meant I had the car underneath me to achieve pole. It’s fantastic. The team and Onroak Automotive have been working tirelessly over the winter to develop the new LMP2 and it’s paid off. Tomorrow will be totally different of course. Our target is to stay on the lead lap and be decisive in traffic. I think it’s wide open.”

The lights go out on the 60th Anniversary 12 Hours of Sebring tomorrow at 10:30 local time (+5 CET).

source: oak-racing.com

Conquest Endurance Sebring Qualifying Report

60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida

  • Saturday, March 17, Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway
  • DRIVERS: Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson, Francesco Dracone
  • CAR/CLASS: No. 37 Conquest Endurance Morgan-Judd/P2
  • SERIES: Round 1 of 10 in 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón
  • QUALIFYING: 17th overall and 7th in P2 (Plowman)
  • FOLLOW: @ConquestRacing, www.facebook.com/ConquestRacing

New Team Ready For A Long Day

Depending on what a person is doing, once around the clock (12 hours) can go by quickly. Then again, ‘quickly’ is a relative term. Watching the opening round of NCAA’s March Madness can make 12 hours go by quickly. On the other hand, 12 hours of listening to American Idol rejects could be excrutiatingly long – and painful – for many.

Race car drivers Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson and Francesco Dracone will find out Saturday, March 17, just how long 12 hours racing around the bumpy and grueling 3.74-mile Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway can feel like. The trio will be driving the No. 37 Conquest Endurance Morgan-Judd P2 car in the 60th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

It’s a race on a bone-jarring circuit that can take it’s toll on cars, bodies and emotions. But over 12 hours, anything can happen.

It’s the debut race in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón for the Conquest Endurance team, based in Indianapolis, and owned by long-time IndyCar owner Eric Bachelart.

Plowman qualified the Conquest Endurance ALMS P2 prototype for the team in a shortened and frenetic qualifying session Friday. A crowded track added to the bedlam, and when the dust settled, Plowman qualified 17th out of 63 cars participating in qualifications for the historic race. His lap of 1 minute, 52.493 seconds (119.687 mph) ranked seventh in their P2 class.

As are the drivers, most of the Conquest Endurance team are rookies in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Most of them have been down in Sebring for more than a week. They’ve spent long hours preparing their brand new race car for its debut. But until the checkered flag drops Saturday night, none of them know for sure just how long 12 hours at Sebring really is.

Conquest Racing Sebring Qualifying Quotes

Martin Plowman

“It was a very short qualifying session, that’s for sure. I think it’s, for me, not the result that I would hope for. The team is relatively happy. We’re quite a bit faster than what we’ve done earlier this week, but if I were happy with the result then the team would have the right to fire me. We want the pole and we want to win, and we’ll never be really happy unless we’re there. For me, the biggest adjustment about this type of qualifying is getting used to this kind of tire. The 37 has a very good race pace and rhythm, but these Dunlop tires have two laps when they’re at their very peak, then they drop off. Having said that, it’s a 12-hour race so we can’t be too upset about it. After 40 minutes into the race, the qualifying order will be all changed up anyway. This is only the outer skin of the race, and we’re getting in to the real deal tomorrow.”

David Heinemeier Hansson

“I’m pretty happy with the whole progress. We’re up against guys who have been doing this for a long time; teams who have been racing in this event before. It’s great that we’ve shown good pace, and I think we have a car that seems to be reliable and able to go the distance. I’m excited for the 12 Hours. I just love where we are in terms of pace. There are classes of cars that are faster than us and cars that are slower than us. It’s going to be nuts tomorrow.”

Eric Bachelart

“Qualifying is not a big deal for Sebring, and everything is ready to go. We’re ready for the show tomorrow. We have to start tomorrow with Martin because he qualified, then we are going to David and then Francesco. We’ll figure our strategy out from there. We have had a smooth week so far. The car is very reliable and very competitive, which are all good things. Tomorrow will be the first endurance race for Conquest, and the first for our drivers. We are going to be busy and learn a lot, but mostly we want to stay out of trouble and finish the race to build for the season.”

Conquest Racing Sebring Qualifying/Race Notes

•Race Day Schedule

8 – 8:25 a.m. Morning Warm-up

9:05 – 10:30 Pre-Race Ceremonies

10:30 a.m. Green Flag

•Broadcast Information

Live Streaming: Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 10:15 a.m. ET on ESPN3

Television Broadcast: Tape-delayed Sunday, March 18 at Noon on ABC

•Conquest Endurance owner Eric Bachelart told media Thursday that he still is an IZOD IndyCar Series team owner and is working on a package that will debut in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500. Both Conquest Endurance, his ALMS team, and Conquest Racing, his IndyCar team, will operate from his Indianapolis headquarters. Bachelart has been a team owner in U.S. open wheel racing since 1996.

•After qualifying, Bachelart talked about the challenges his team faced in preparing for the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The team took delivery of its Morgan chassis one week ago here in the paddock of Sebring International Raceway. Since most of his crew has no experience working on prototypes, Bachelart said the week has been a learning experience.

source: conquestracing.com, grand-solutions.net