SEBRING, Fla.—For the last time, the world’s best sports cars are roaring around the 17 turns of Sebring International Raceway. Practice and qualifying for the final internally relevant Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring have begun, and sports car fans anywhere within travel distance are urged not to miss it.
The Twelve Hours of Sebring, sanctioned since 1999 by the American Le mans Series, has always attracted the top endurance racing teams from around the world, offering fans a chance to see the fastest cars and drivers in several classes of cars, from purpose-built prototypes to modified street cars, all together on this historic 3.74-mile collection of World-War-II-era airport runways in Central Florida.
From the first time cars races for twelve hours over the bumpy, demanding circuit, the event has been an essential part of the international sports car scene. Sadly, that will all change in 2104, when the merged ALMS/Grand Am series takes over. The new series will exclude the best international entries, at least until 2017, and possibly beyond that.
Sports car fans who want to see the best North American teams face off against the best from the rest of the world need to hustle themselves down to Sebring before Saturday morning at 10:30 when the green flag waves. Don‘t be one of the people who have to tell their friends, “I could have gone, but …” This is seriously the last chance you may ever have—no hype at all, this is truly an historic race.
No surprise, the Audis were quick in Wednesday’s practice session. However, the big hybrid diesels didn’t run a lot of laps and they weren’t the quickest. The 2013-spec #2 e-tron Quattro driven by Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, and Lucas di Grassi was out longer than the 2012-spec #1 car, but neither ran much.
The Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD and the Two Rebellion Lola-Toyotas looked quick, and the newly reclassed P1 DeltaWing was striking in its new chrome livery.
Fastest of the session honors went to the #13 Rebellion of Mathias Beche, Andrea Belicchi, and Congfu Cheng, followed by its sister car, the #12 driven by Nicolas Prost, Neel Jani, and Nick Heidfeld. 2012 ALMS P1 champ Muscle Milk Pickett racing’s HPD was third, .63 seconds off the leader’s pace. The #16 Dyson Lola-Mazda, not running its flybrid unit for the Twelve Hour, was fourth in class.
The newly reclassed P1 DeltaWing was striking in its new chrome livery, but wasn’t particularly quick, running 13th overall behind all the P2s and the three quickest PCs.
In GT, the Risi Ferrari was quickest in class, ahead of the Porsches of Paul Miller Racing and Team Falken Tire. Corvette Racing didn’t make an appearance in this session. The new BMWs looked great but ran slowly—they were last in class.
After ALMS practice the older SVRA historics took to the track and gave fans a taste of what racing was like when Sebring was new. After that the big-bore historics, Can Am, GTP and Trans Am monsters, came out to play.
The action resumes Thursday morning at 8 a.m. and continues until the end of Night Practice at 9 p.m. Support series race Thursday and Friday, interspersed with ALMS practice and qualifying. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or through Sebring Raceway.com.
Don’t miss this one.
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