Words: Kristof Vermeulen. All pictures © JellyBaby.Media
Tristan Vautier has secured pole position this afternoon in his #90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi for tomorrow’s Sebring 12 Hours.
It’s the first pole position for the team in its new DPi prototype, and the first pole for the Frenchman in the WeatherTech SportsCar Series. Vautier held off fellow Frenchman Olivier Pla in the #2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi with 0.160 seconds after an exciting duel. Third fastest was Ricky Taylor in the #7 Acura Team Penske Dpi, 0.341 seconds behind pole position. Despite a good performance from both of the Mazda Team Joest prototypes the pair were relegated to the back of the prototype class following a technical infringement as the team covered the shut lines on the panels with ‘tank tape’, a practice allowed in the FIA WEC (where Joest formally raced) but barred by IMSA’s Rule 9.7.2 which states tape may not be placed over bodywork seams, with exception of the refuelling receptacles.
After a disappointing 24 Hours of Daytona where the brand new M8 GTE showed its reliability but a lack of pace, BMW now dominated the LMGTE class, scoring pole and third position at the end of the qualifying session. Both BMW were in top of the timetable, until James Calado managed to squeeze in its #62 Ferrari 488 GTE. Connor de Philippi was the fastest man on track, clocking in a record breaking 1.55.893 for the GTLM class with his #25 BMW M8 GTE. Calado was a (very) close second, just 0.058 seconds behind the BMW. The #24 BMW of Jesse Krohn set the third fastest time.
Spirit of Race took pole position in the GTD class with Daniel Serra behind the wheel of the #51 Ferrari 488 GT3. Serra also set a record qualifying lap in 1.58.710. Chistopher Mies in the #29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 GT3 was second fastest, over half a second behind Serra. Just 0.022 seconds slower was Jack Hawksworth in the #15 Lexus RCF GT3. The #93 Michael Shank Lexus is still undergoing repair works after yesterday’s crash and didn’t take part in qualifying.
The 66th annual 12 Hours of Sebring will start on Saturday at 10h40 local time (14h40 UK time, 15h40 CET).
Saturday’s (very) cold and foggy morning practice saw Helio Castrovenes fastest in the #7 Penske Acura in 1.47.076 in the Prototype class, both BMW’s setting the pace in GTLM and the Land Motorsport R8 fastest in GTD.
Mazda dominated yesterday’s night practice, putting both Joest run Mazda DPi’s on top of the timetable. Oliver Jarvis in the #77 beating Jonathan Bomarito in the #55 with 0.457 seconds. The Ford GT of Joey Hand was fastest in the dark, ahead of the #25 BMW and the #911 Porsche of Laurens Vanthoor. In the GTD class the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW was fastest.