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ALMS:12 Hours of Sebring, Night Practice

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A Quiet End To The Day. 

Practice 3 Times Here >>

Much like race morning warm-ups, night practices are best described as sessions where nothing good happens – only the bad.

For night practice, Sebring 2013 style, nothing really happened. The #7 BAR1 PC had an off and was brought back on a flat bed – maybe slight contact, but the real reason was that the car had stopped running. This caused a shortish red flag stop with 45 minutes remaining in the scheduled 1 hour, 45 minute session.

With about 15 minutes remaining, Benoit Tréluyer had a bit of an off-course excursion, but thankfully it was no harm, no foul, for the reigning two-time Le Mans winner.

Notes and Quotes:

Brian Sellers (Team Falken Porsche): “It’s going okay so far. The car is as good as it can be. We were the fastest Porsche in the last session, so that is something; but that is about all we can get out of it, and I know everyone else is holding back. We’ll see where we stand after qualifying.”

Jon Bennett (#05 CORE FLM): “Mark was in the last session and did a great job. The car has been really good, but winning this race takes so much more just having than a fast car. Performance is only about 30% of it; another 30% is Murphy’s Law and how you deal with that. The rest is everything else that’s involved. Strategy and pit stops are so important. Right now we are working on the new Continental tires and logging data on their performance. So far they have been pretty good. No complaints.”

Butch Leitzinger (Dyson Lola): “I’m really happy to be back at Sebring running with Dyson. We have been struggling with the car. Late in the afternoon session I think we made some progress. Hopefully we’ve turned the corner on it and have it heading in the right direction. It should be a good race with Muscle Milk and the Rebellion cars.”

Klaus Graf (Muscle Milk HPD): “Everything is going really well. The car has run flawless. It’s basically the exact same car and tires that we ran for most of last season so we have a pretty good handle on it. We have nothing for the Audis; they just have way too much power. But we expect a good battle with the Lola cars. I’m looking forward to racing Rebellion this year; that should be good.”

Guy Cosmo (#01 ESM HPD): “The car is so new to us that we are still just trying to make sure everything is working right, but it is so much fun to drive. Today was really the first time we could begin to work on the car and set-up type things. All the previous track time was used just getting the engine and the electricals and everything else functioning. This morning the #01 had a differential issue, but otherwise they have been pretty reliable. But as a driver I am really psyched that they made the switch; it was last minute and unexpected, but the car is so fast and so much fun to drive.”

The “new” Delta Wing has reportedly been suffering from overheating issues throughout the testing time. What was adequate cooling for last year’s version does not appear to be adequate for Chromemember (yeah, baby!).

Starworks hopes to have an announcement soon concerning their upcoming P2 effort in the WEC. Peter Baron indicated that the team will likely team up with an existing entrant for at least the first few races of the WEC schedule. Some of the delay can be attributed to circumstances in Venezuela, following the recent death of Hugo Chavez. Concerns over his health had earlier put a stop to any funding for racing, although the programs are expected to return pretty much as they were soon.

Peter also stated that, as of yet, they have not really found out what the issue was with their Grand-Am fueling probe. It was confiscated after the COTA race and then a week later the team found out they were being penalized.

In the Thursday afternoon session, the GT class was a bit backed-up time wise, with the fast cars all in the 2:01 range. Then right at the end of the session, Gianmaria Bruni cranked off a fast one – a 2:00.464. This was attributed to the team preparing for qualifying, due to take place on Friday afternoon. Bruni went out on a low fuel load and new tires to set the fastest time of the day in class.

Among the driver talent at Risi this season is Matteo Malucelli, new to both the team and also to racing in the States. He had previously tested here, but has not actually competed. Thus far, he is enjoying the new challenges and looking forward to getting on with the schedule. “So far, I’m very happy to be here with Risi and I’m excited to get on to the other tracks. It will be a challenging season for sure, getting to know the tracks and the competition.” Even on a Thursday, Matteo was impressed with the fan turn out, which he thought was huge by European standards. Just wait until race day.

In other GT news, it’s the start of the season and also the start of sand bag season. Essentially nobody is showing their hand and to be honest it is very unlikely that anyone will here at Sebring. In this class, it isn’t so much about who has the fastest car – it’s more about who wants to venture closest to their ultimate pace.

So ends the first official track days of the 61st Annual 12 Hours of Sebring. Friday brings forth a one hour session in the morning, followed up by qualifying later in the afternoon.

GH/RW