Neel Jani put Rebellion Racing’s Oreca 07 Gibson on pole for the 2017 Sebring 12 Hours this afternoon, with a record 1:48.178 lap of the Floridian circuit. It was also the first pole position for a 2017 global LMP2 car in the IMSA WeatherTech series.
Lining up second on the grid will be the the #5 Action Express Cadillac after Christian Fittipaldi narrowly missed out on the top spot, the gap between him and Jani was less than a tenth in the end. Fittipaldi attempted to snatch pole in the dying minutes but ran out of fuel on one his final hot lap.
“It was very good,” Fittipaldi said. “We had a good set-up in the car. Our timing was a little off, we ran out of fuel on the last lap, which was my fastest. I was looking at the splits, unless I made a mistake in the last two corners it was a pole run.
“It happens. That is part of racing. We are all in this together as a team. Sometimes it is not my day, or the drivers or the team. We win together and we lose together. I am upset, but there is 12 hours to race tomorrow, which is a lot of time. I would really be mad if this was Long Beach, but we have 12 hours to race, so it really doesn’t make any difference.”
Action Express’ other Cadillac of Dane Cameron will start third, with the PR1/Mathiasen Ligier JS P217 just off the top three in fourth after a 1:49.056 tour. Brendon Hartley bookended the top five in the #22 ESM Nissan ahead of the Daytona-winning Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac that will line up sixth on the grid.
Meanwhile, in GTLM, Ford scored a 1-2 in Qualifying, with Ryan Briscoe in the #67 GT leading the charge with a 1:55.939. The #66 of Dirk Müller ended up second, just over two seconds back.
The first non-Ford in the order was the #4 Corvette after an impressive performance from Tommy Milner in the #4 C7.R, beating out the #912 Porsche 911 RSR to a top three spot.
Behind, the #3 Corvette and WEC-crewed #68 Ford ended the day fifth and sixth in the class. It was a particularly ferocious session for the GTLM runners, as like the Prototype division, the lap record for Qualifying was broken, with Briscoe’s lap a whopping 2.5 seconds quicker than the 2015 pole time.
Down in GTD the SunEnergy1 Mercedes AMG GT3 of Tristan Vautier was the best of the bunch, the Frenchman clocking a 1:59.738 to secure pole. Vautier was the only GTD runner to break the two-minute barrier, as the closest challenger was the Montaplast Land Motorsports Audi R8 of Connor de Philippi who set a 2:00.490.
Third in the GT3-based class was the #16 Change Racing Lamborghini of Corey Lewis in what turned out to be a frantic session, ahead of the two 3GT Racing Lexus’ which had an incredible run to fourth and fifth; the #15 leading the #14.
The #26 BAR 1 Oreca of Gustavo Yacaman set a 1.53.506 to claim PC pole.
Tomorrow’s Sebring 12 Hours is set to go green at 10:40am local time in Florida.
Featured image courtesy of Rebellion Racing