Porsche’s Sebring Qualifying Report
The Best Of The Porsches Will Start From The Second Row Of GTLM
Porsche is looking to continue their good fortune with a quality race result in Saturday's Sebring 12 hour race, following on from their podium position at the Daytona 24 back in January. Their new-for-2017 mid-engine 911 RSR has proven it has the guts to run up at the front for long periods of time, and it was certainly still scrapping for the lead at the end of 24 hours. The Sebring course is a completely different animal and really rewards a well-built car. The ex-military airfield is one of the bumpiest and demanding circuits in the world, and is known for shaking cars (and drivers) to pieces. Twelve hours at Sebring is said to be more grueling than 24 hours at basically any other circuit in the world.
Qualifying results for such a long endurance race are generally not as important as they would be at a shorter sprint race, but it does allow teams to compare their lap times to the competition at-speed for the first time during the week. Single-lap pace has been a key point of Ford's GT program, so it is no surprise that they've locked out the front row in qualifying. In third place is the first of the Chevrolet Corvettes. Starting fourth is Porsche's #912 RSR. No manufacturer has scored more wins, either in-class or overall, than Porsche has at this famed twelve-hour race. It's fair to say they know exactly how best to operate at Sebring for optimum results.
Friday's qualifying session was bright and sun-shiny at the central Florida circuit. Kévin Estre posted the fourth quickest time in his 911 RSR, and will share the car with Laurens Vanthoor and Richard Lietz. The second proverbial bullet in Porsche's gun is the #911 car of Dirk Werner, Patrick Pilet, and Frédéric Makowiecki, which starts from the seventh grid spot.
In the GTD category, Porsche GT3 Rs qualified twelfth, thirteenth, and nineteenth. As mentioned before, this is a very long race, and there is plenty of opportunity for these cars (including the Daytona 24-winning entry) to haul themselves up to the front.
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport:
“Sebring is always a challenge. It’s very difficult to turn really quick laps here with a new car. Dirk and Kevin did a super job and our expectations have been fully met. A very positive development was that Dirk drove his fastest lap at the end of the qualifying session on worn tires. We’re looking forward to Saturday and we’ll be attacking hard.”
Kévin Estre, driver, 911 RSR #912:
“The second grid row is good for us. We can be pleased with this. Our 911 RSR was well balanced and fast. In the first lap I pushed a little too hard and made a minor mistake. But then I drove faultlessly on the second lap, although I was a little slower due to the deteriorating tires.”
Dirk Werner, driver, 911 RSR #911:
“I haven’t driven a qualifying session in a Porsche for a long time. Compared to free practice, the track had changed noticeably and was somewhat more difficult to drive on. I didn’t really get a perfect lap in, however the gaps are very close. Seventh on the grid is a good starting position for the race, especially when you consider the pace of our 911 RSR.”
1. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, 1:55.939 minutes
2. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, + 0.236 seconds
3. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Corvette, + 0.313
4. Estre/Vanthoor/Lietz (F/B/A), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.380
5. Garcia/Magnussen/Rockenfeller (E/DK/D), Corvette, + 0.429
6. Pla/Mücke/Johnson (F/D/USA), Ford GT, + 0.502
7. Pilet/Werner/Makowiecki (F/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.548
8. Edwards/Tomczyk/Catsburg (USA/D/NL), BMW M6, 0.678
9. Auberlen/Hand/Bourdais (USA/USA/F), BMW M6, 0.721
10. Fisichella/Calado/Vilander (I/I/SF), Ferrari 488, + 1.536
1. Vautier/Habul/Said (F/USA/USA), Mercedes AMG, 1:59.738 minutes
2. De Phillippi/Mies/Gounon (USA/D/F), Audi R8, + 0,752 seconds
3. Lewis/Mul/Sandberg (USA/NL/USA), Lamborghini, + 1.229
12. De Quesada/Morad/Pumpelly/Christensen (USA/CAN/USA/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 2.014
13. Bergmeister/Lindsey/McMurry (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 2.228
19. Bennett/Braun/Jonsson (USA/USA/S), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 3.934