36 teams gear up for 12 Hours of Sebring

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The two Corvette C7.Rs that finished one-two in their class will be among the race cars that will be eagerly watched in the 12 Hours of Sebring at Florida. CORVETTERACING.COM

The two Corvette C7.Rs that finished one-two in their class will be among the race cars that will be eagerly watched in the 12 Hours of Sebring at Florida. CORVETTERACING.COM

Thirty-six teams in four classes will be taking part in Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, on March 20, which will feature almost the same teams that battled it out earlier in the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona.

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All of the teams wrapped up last week two days of testing at the historic Sebring International Raceway in Central Florida. The Daytona race track is also located in Florida.

Thirty-six teams in four classes attended the test, run under cool, dry conditions that may well be the same the teams see at the second International Motor Sports Association WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the season. However, Sebring has been known to throw curve balls weather-wise, making the always grueling race even more challenging.

Ten Prototype teams registered for the test, along with four Prototype Challenge (PC) cars, five in GT Le Mans (GTLM) and 17 in GT Daytona (GTD). The GTD cars are all new this year since the class adopted the global GT3 regulations, so plenty of GTD teams wanted to get a taste of Sebring in their new cars prior to the actual race.

A few prominent teams elected to skip the Sebring test – the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R team that ran first and second in the GTLM class at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona had its own private test at Sebring prior to the IMSA test, and the two-car Mazda Prototype team also tested extensively at Sebring earlier.

Turning in the fastest overall time was French driver Olivier Pla, driving the No. 60 Michel Shank Racing Honda Ligier JS P2, with a lap of 1:51.546 seconds, at 120.704 miles per hour (193.13 kilometers per hour). A A surprising second in the Prototype class was the Nissan-powered No. 81 ORECA 05 of Dragon¬Speed Racing, with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel. Third was the No. 90 Chevrolet Corvette DP of Visit Florida.com, with Ryan Dalziel driving.

Dalziel, whose team finished third at Daytona, was pleased with the Sebring test. “We don’t have the outright speed of the cars at the top of the speed charts,” he said, “but hopefully we can make it up with a steady performance.”

The No. 2 Extreme Speed Honda HPD Ligier JS P2 that won Daytona overall with young Brazilian driver Pipo Derani leading the team also was at Sebring, and usually one of the fastest cars in the four practice sessions.

In PC, the No. 54 CORE auto¬sport team, led by driver Colin Braun, was the fastest on both days, with a best lap of 1:54.087. In GTLM, Dirk Werner had the fastest lap of 1:58.705, driving the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM car, and in GTD, Alessandro Balzan turned in a lap of 2:01.342 in the new No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488, more than two seconds faster than the existing GT Daytona track record.

THE TIMES

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