Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani won the pole Friday morning (March 17) for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring with a lap at 127.216 mph. It is Derani’s second career pole on the 3.74-mile bumpy circuit.
A 9:10 a.m. ET start time for qualifying meant that track conditions were absolutely ideal to set quick times in Sebring. The teams obliged.
It didn’t take long for Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Ricky Taylor to set the fastest lap of the weekend and give the others something to shoot at. The Cadillacs were up to the challenge.
Derani set the lap that ultimately won the pole with seven minutes to go. Sebastien Bourdais put his No. 01 Cadillac second on the grid shortly afterwards. Everyone was working to put down their best laps, but that didn’t come to pass.
With just under five minutes to go, Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Matt Campbell clipped the inside wall in turn 1 on a quick lap. He then spun and went into the tires to bring out a red flag.
With the minimum of 15 of 20 minutes complete at the time of the crash, IMSA declared the session complete, giving Derani the pole. His qualifying lap would have qualified him fourth for today’s FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring, faster than any of the LMDh prototypes Thursday evening.
Derani’s lap was .087 seconds quicker than Bourdais. Taylor will start third, followed by Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 6 Porsche. Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Tom Blomqvist will start fifth.
LMP2 saw TDS Racing’s Francois Heriau set a quick time early on. That lap stood until the final moments of the session when PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Ben Keating turned in a lap at 120.451 mph to win the pole.
Keating’s lap was .12 seconds faster than Heriau. Heriau’s teammate Steven Thomas was on a hot lap, but went wide at the hairpin and had to settle for third. Crowdstrike Racing by APR’s George Kurtz will start fourth, while Dennis Andersen will start the High Class Racing entry in fifth.
Andersen’s session was far from clean as he spun his No. 20 in the hairpin and had a heck of a time getting back underway. Riley Motorsports’ Gar Robinson also ended up spinning
In LMP3, the requirement for amateur drivers to qualify led to a slow buildup. Eventually, Andretti Autosport’s Glenn van Berlo set a lap at 116.860 mph that is an LMP3 track record. From there, the rest of the class took their shots at it. No one got close.
In GTD Pro, Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen put his BMW M4 GT3 on top of the chart early on, but VasserSullivan’s Jack Hawksworth put his Lexus at the front as times dipped below two minutes five minutes into the session.
The session ended four minutes early after Pfaff Motorsports’ Klaus Bachler spun and went hard into the tires exiting turn 1. Since 11 minutes were completed under green.
Just before the red flag came out, Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia set a lap at 112.844 mph. That lap is a new GT3 track record at Sebring and earned Garcia the pole.
Garcia’s lap was .267 seconds faster than Hawksworth. WeatherTech Racing’s Daniel Juncadella will start third in class, followed by The Heart of Racing’s Alex Riberas. Risi Competizione’s Daniel Serra will start fifth in his Ferrari.
In GTD, Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR’s Kyle Marcelli won the class pole in his Acura with a lap at 112.468 mph, fourth of all GT drivers. Marcelli’s lap was .12 seconds faster than Winward Racing’s Philip Ellis. Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Mikael Grenier was third on the chart, but will start at the rear of the field after Grenier exited the car too early. Doing that violates an IMSA rule that requires drivers to stay with the car until they are released back to the paddock.,
As a result of Grenier’s penalty, VasserSullivan’s Aaron Telitz inherits third in class. Wright Motorsports’ Jan Heylen has the fastest Porsche 911 GT3 R in fourth, while the Ferrari of Triarsi Competizione’s Alessio Rovera will start fifth.
The Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring is scheduled to go green at 10:10 a.m. ET Saturday morning. Coverage will start at 10 a.m. ET on Peacock. USA coverage picks up at 4:30 p.m. ET and will run through the finish.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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