Peugeot asserted themselves by taking the top spot after the night practice session on Thursday
Photo: Anne ProffitPractice for the 59th Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring began on Thursday anticipating the 10:30AM start Saturday morning. With 56 cars on hand, pit road is a busy place and there are three practice sessions scheduled for the day.
In the first morning session, the Audi R15+ LM P1 prototypes of Romain Dumas and Allan McNish were quickest, followed by the year-old Peugeot 908 HDi FAP of Nicolas Lapierre. Despite a fire, the Muscle Milk LM P1 Aston Martin/Lola was fourth and the two new Peugeots 908 fell next in line.
In the LM PC class for the Oreca spec racer, Ryan Lewis, Ryan Dalziel and Johnny Mowlem were first through third. There are 19 GT cars on hand for the fight as Ferrari debut their new 458 Italia with Jaime Melo at the helm being first in the initial practice, followed by Augosto Farfus and Joey Hand, both driving BMW M3s.
It's been a very warm day for mid-March in central Florida and by the time the cars went out for their mid-afternoon second practice, the thermostat was well into the 80s. The order changed a little bit with the second Audi R15+ taking fast time and the second in P2. the two new Peugeot 908's were third and fourth with last year's 908 HDi FAP fifth. Rebellion Racing brought its Lola B10/06 coupe into sixth place and HPD's ARX-01e LM P1 car was seventh.
As the sun began to set, the third practice session of the day began, simulating conditions as expected for race evening on Saturday.
This time it was Peugeot that took top honors as Anthony Davidson bettered the Audi R15+ in his 908. The second Peugeot 908 was third and the second Audi fourth, which the year-old Peugeot 908 HIi FAP fifth and the Aston Martin Lola B08/62, repaired following its morning oil fire, quickest of the petrol-powered cars and leading the HPD ARX-01e in sixth.
The Lola/Honda of Level 5 Motorsports was quickest in LM P2 (10th overall) while Scott Sharp's new Ferrari F458 Italia led all comers in the GT category.
Perfect conditions are expected to continue throughout the weekend and the 59th Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring takes the green flags at 10:30 EDT Saturday morning. Who will be on pole? It's easy to conjecture - either a Peugeot or an Audi should prevail!
2011 Anne Proffit