Porsche Sweeps GTLM Qualifying for Tudor Championship 63rd Sebring 12 Hours
SEBRING, Fla.—In a class where differences of hundredths of a second seem large, Porsche North America driver Frédéric Makowiecki captured the GT Le Mans class pole for the Tudor Championship Twelve Hours of Sebring with a lap two-tenths of a second faster than team mate Patrick Pilet, who qualified second.
Makowiecki’s lap of 1:58.587 mph at 113.537 in the #912 PNA RSR set a new series track record—not too bad for a his first race at Sebring.
“That was a very difficult qualifying with a perfect result for Porsche,” Mackowiecki said in a Porsche press release. “Despite the heat, our tires took longer than expected to reach an optimal working temperature on this challenging track. From practice to practice, the team successfully improved the 911 RSR.
“It’s something very special for me to set pole position here in Sebring. It makes me proud, because Porsche has a long and successful history at this race.”
Makowiecki’s team mate Patrick Pilet qualified second in the #911 PNA RSR, a more GTLM-like 0.022 seconds ahead of Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette Racing C7.R.
“That was tough,” Pilet explained in a press release. “I experienced understeer early on with our 911 RSR, but towards the end the balance improved from lap to lap. Now I’m also feeling optimistic for the race – the whole package works.
“The most important thing in Sebring is that the car’s performance remains constant. This race is won in the last two hours, so we need a perfect strategy and we can’t make any mistakes.”
From fourth to sixth place was covered by 0.088 seconds—GTLM will once again be an even fight between every team and make.
Viper Takes GT Daytona Pole
Jeroen Bleekemolen in the #33 Riley Motorsports Dodge SRT Viper V10 set a new series class qualifying record with a lap of 2:03.485 at 109.033 mph, which earned him the GTD pole by half a second over Mario Farnbacher in the #23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America.
Bleekemolen and Farnbacher swapped the lead five times, with the Viper driver setting the fastest lap with three minutes left in the 15-minute session.
“We knew Alex Job was going to be strong because they tested here,” Bleekemolen, told IMSA.com. “They had some lap times that were incredibly fast. It turned out to be a fight between me and them.
“I heard Mario did a great lap and I had to find three-tenths and I didn’t think that was going to work. We got a great lap together and beat him by half a tenth.”
Mario Farnbacher is the first in trio of Porsches on the GTD grid, with James Davison in the #007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage filling out the top five. Davison captured the pole in the last five Tudor Championship races going back to the middle of the 2014 season.
Tickets for the Tudor Championship 63rd 12 Hours of Sebring are available at the gate or via the Sebring Raceway website.
The race will also be televised and streamed in its entirety. The first two hours will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, starting at 10:30 a.m. EDT Saturday, March 21. From 12:30 p.m. until 7 at night the race will be on Fox Sports 2; then it moves to the Internet on IMSA.com.
Fox Sports Two picks up the action at 10 p.m. and broadcasts the end of the race and winners’ interviews.
Finally, a two-hour summary will air on Fox Sports 1 at 8:30 am on Sunday, March 22.
As always live timing and scoring will be available at IMSA.com.