All the key elements were in place on Saturday, March 16 when the green flag dropped for the 61st Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. Teams and drivers first enjoyed the attention of throngs of fans during the pit walk as national anthems were played in honor of the international drivers, and ceremonial pageantry completed the pre-race fanfare as the Sunshine State lived up to its well-deserved nickname.
At the mid-point of the race, the two Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron Quattro cars looked unassailable in the P1 class. The #2 car driven by Lucas di Grassi (MON), Tom Kristensen (DEN) and Allan McNish (GBR) was eight seconds ahead of their teammates in the #1 car which had started from pole position courtesy of Swiss driver Marcel Fassler who had set a new track record during Qualifying.
The P2 class was also being led by teammates, with the pole-starting #551 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03B ahead of the #552 car. Third in class was the #41 Greaves Motorsport Zylek Z11SN.
The GT class, the largest with 12 entries, also saw the pole winner – the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia driven by Gianmaria Bruni (Rome, ITA), Olivier Beretta (Monte Carlo, MON) and Matteo Malucelli (Meldola, ITA) – at the head of the pack . In second place was the #17 Team Falcon Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Wolf Henzler (Nürtingen, GER), Bryan Sellers (Atlanta, Ga.) and Nick Tandy (Bedford, GBR), followed by the #56 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE driven by Dirk Müller (Tägerwilen, SUI), Joey Hand (Sacramento, Calif.) and John Edwards (Louisville, Ky.) in third.
During PC class Qualifying, the four fastest cars marked a class record, yet mid-way in the 12 hour race none of the four were top-three. Leading the field of Oreca FLM09 cars was the #8 BAR1 Motorsports car driven by Kyle Marcelli (CAN), Chris Cumming (CAN) and Stefan Johansson (Los Angeles, Calif.), followed by the #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports entry driven by David Cheng (Samamish, Wash.), Mike Guasch (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) and David Ostella (CAN). The #500 Performance Tech Motorsports car driven by Tristan Nunez (Boca Raton, Fla.), Charlie Shears (Houston, Texas) and David Heinemeier Hansson (Chicago, Ill.) stood third.
The GTC field was led by the #11 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3Cup car driven by Mike Hedlund (Woodside, Calif.), Jan Heylen (Tampa, Fla.) and Jon Fogarty (Bend, Ore.). In second position was the #31 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911GT3 Cup car driven by Carlos Gomez (Bogota, COL), Mario Fambacher (Ansbach, GER) and Kuba Giermaziak (Gostyn, POL) with their other team car, the #30, driven by Henrique Cisneros (Miami, Fla.), Marco Seefried (Wemding, GER) and Sean Edwards (MON) in third place.
As the first race of the 2013, doing well at the 12 Hours of Sebring can set the tone for a team’s season. Winning the 2012 American Le Mans Series Championship in the P1 class was no small effort for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, and defending it may be even tougher, especially as a privateer competing against the factory teams with their vast resources.
“Factory teams are like icing on the cake and they bring to our sport technology and professionalism, which enhances our series,” said team owner Greg Pickett (Benicia, Calif.). “However, we privateers bring a certain enthusiasm to the track. We come here to win, but we also really enjoy what we do. When my good friend and fellow privateer, Rob Dyson beat us by a couple of inches to win the closest ever ALMS race finish at Road America last year I was the first to congratulate him. The previous year at that race the results were opposite and we won the race just ahead of Rob’s car and Rob was the first person to come over to congratulate me on our win. In fact when I decided to form my team it was Rob Dyson who helped me in setting things up. We are competitors but we are also friends.”
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing won the 2012 LMP1 driver’s championship as well as the team championships with just five points over their main rivals, Dyson Racing. As of the mid-point of the race, his #6 HPD ARX-03c, driven by Klaus Graf (GER), Lucas Luhr (GER) and Romain Dumas (FRA), was consistently running in fourth.
The 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón began with the 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on Mar. 11-16. Green flag for the 12 Hours of Sebring was at 10:45 a.m. ET on Saturday, Mar. 16. SPEED’s live coverage began at 10:30 a.m. ET., and is continuing on a tape delay basis until 1:00 a.m. EST March 17.
During the 12 hour event, ESM will provide frequent updates via Twitter and Facebook.
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