Bourdais Scores Sebring Pole

Action Express

Bourdais, who will co-drive the No. 5 Corvette DP with Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa Saturday, had a lap of 1 minute, 51.917 seconds (120.303 mph) on the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway road circuit, fastest in the headlining Prototype class and overall. (Photo: Courtesy of IMSA)

SEBRING, Fla. - Based on the team’s performance in practice, Sebastien Bourdais didn’t have great expectations for Friday afternoon’s Prototype qualifying.

His main goal was to run a few good laps to get a better feel for the car’s performance.

Bourdais not only met but exceeded that goal, winning the TOTAL Pole Award for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida with a lap of 1 minute, 51.917 seconds (120.303 mph). He took the top spot in the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype co-driven by Action Express Racing teammates Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.

“We were not sure where we were going to be, because it was difficult to get in a good lap [in practice] this morning,” Bourdais said. “Traffic was very difficult, and it was tough to get a read on the car because we were always on the line and we couldn’t set a rhythm. It was better in qualifying, because I was able to string together a few good laps.”

The Action Express Racing trio is looking to become the first combination to win both of American endurance racing’s crown jewels overall in the same year since 1998, when Gianpiero Moretti, Mauro Baldi and Didier Theys won both the Rolex 24 and Twelve Hours in the MOMO Ferrari 333SP, joined by Arie Luyendyk at Daytona.

“This is a great way to start after Daytona, and I hope we can keep it up,” Bourdais said. “Just because we were fast today doesn’t mean we’ll have it tomorrow. We’ll reset the pace tomorrow and see what will happen. I hope we can keep it up.”

Demonstrating how hard they were pushing, a number of contenders – including Scott Pruett, Scott Dixon, Ricky Taylor and Richard Westbrook – got off course during the 15-minute session.

“That shows how difficult conditions are here at Sebring,” Bourdais said. “A lot of guys made mistakes before they even banked a lap. With a wind like we had today, you get a double-faced car that goes from oversteer to understeer and changes throughout the lap.”

Olivier Pla qualified second, running 1:52.086 (120.122 mph) in the No. 42 Nissan/Morgan for OAK Racing co-driven by Alex Brundle and Gustavo Yacaman.

Starting on the second row will be the No. 10 Corvette DP of Wayne Taylor Racing, with Ricky Taylor turning in a lap of 1:52.544 (119.633 mph) co-driving with his brother Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli. Ryan Dalziel, ran fourth with a lap of 1:52.662 (119.508 mph) in the No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda co-driven by Scott Sharp and David Brabham.

Fifth on the Prototype grid went to Klaus Graf in the No. 6 ORECA/Nissan from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. Graf’s best lap was a 1:52.667 (119.503 mph) in the car he is sharing with Lucas Luhr and Jann Mardenborough.

Junqueira Captures Prototype Challenge Pole For RSR Motorsports
Five teams passed around the Prototype Challenge pole like a hot potato in Friday’s qualifying for the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

Bruno Junqueira managed to hold on, earning the TOTAL Pole Award in RSR Motorsports’ No. 09 ORECA FLM09 with a lap of 1 minute, 54.839 seconds (117.242 mph).

“I had a very good qualifying,” said Junqueira, who earned two PC victories in 2013. “The track was very slippery, but the car behaved very well and I put in a very good lap.”

After several teams took the top spot during the 15-minute session, Junqueira broke out his fastest lap to win the pole by 0.750 seconds.

“I’m surprised I won by such a big margin,” Junqueira said. “This is a big boost to the team morale, and living in Miami, this is my home race. This event has so much history, I’m looking forward to getting a win here that I treasure so much. The story will be different tomorrow, the race is 12 hours and you have to be consistent. Now we will turn the car to race setup tonight so we can last the 12 hours.”

Tom Kimber-Smith qualified second in 8Star Motorsports’ No. 25 entry co-driven by Michael Marsal, Eric Lux and Sean Rayhall, running 1:55.599 (116.472 mph). He was followed by Raphael Matos in the Performance Tech Motorsports No. 38 ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Charlie Shears and David Ostella, running 1:55.603 (116.468 mph).

Daytona winner Colin Braun briefly held the pole twice in the session in the No. 54 CORE autosport entry co-driven by Jon Bennett and James Gue, but settled for fourth with a lap of 1:55.660 (116.410 mph). Fifth was the Starworks Motorsport No. 8, with Renger van der Zande qualifying at 1:56.152 (115.917 mph) in the car co-driven by David Cheng, Sam Bird and Martin Fuentes.

Christensen Shines In Qualifying
Michael Christensen may not yet be a household name among U.S. sports car fans, but the 23-year-old Dane fully intends on changing that this season with a full-time TUDOR United SportsCar Championship ride for Porsche North America.

If Friday’s qualifying for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida is any indication, he’s not wasting any time, setting the fastest time in his No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR with a lap of one minute, 58.933 seconds (113.207 mph) in the always-competitive GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.

It was Christensen’s first qualifying attempt as a Porsche factory driver after being named to the manufacturer’s prestigious lineup in November.

“It’s the first time for me here (at Sebring) and the first time on the pole,” Christensen said. “We just need to drive as hard as possible. When the class is close like this, it’s going to be a long, long race. You have to keep a cool head as a driver and work well as a team over the wall.”

Porsche North America is off to a hot start in 2014 after winning the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona with the team’s No. 911 911 RSR, but if it wants to close out the prestigious Daytona-Sebring double, it will have to fend off tough competition from BMW and Chevrolet.

Dirk Mueller just missed the top spot in the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE with a lap of 1:59.024 (113.120 mph) while BMW Team RLL teammate Bill Auberlen qualified third in the team’s No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE at 1:59.094 (113.054 mph).

Corvette Racing took the next two positions, followed by the Daytona-winning Porsche and the Risi Competizione Ferrari as the top six positions were separated by a mere 0.315 seconds.

Oliver Gavin qualified fourth with a lap of 1:59.222 (112.932 mph) in the No. 4 Corvette C7R co-driven by Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell, followed by teammate Antonio Garcia in the team’s No. 3 entry co-driven by Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe, running 1:59.224 (112.930).

Richard Lietz was sixth in the class in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR he shares with Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet, running 1:59.248 (112.908 mph).

While the No. 62 Ferrari 458 Italia was fastest in Thursday’s practice, the car was involved in a Friday morning incident. The team was able to repair the vehicle in time for qualifying, with Gianmaria Bruni clocking in seventh fastest with a lap of 1:59.890 (112.303 mph) in the car he co-drives with Matteo Malucelli and Giancarlo Fisichella.

New Series, New Class, Same Result For Cameron
Prior to the merger between the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, Dane Cameron had a presence in both of the series that now make up the unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. He earned a reputation as a top qualifier in the prototype ranks of both series, earning two Rolex Series DP-class poles and three ALMS PC-class poles.

Friday, Cameron used that experience in the TUDOR Championship’s production-based GT Daytona (GTD) ranks, earning the TOTAL Pole Award for Saturday’s Twelve Hours of Sebring, driving the No. 94 BMW Z4 for Turner Motorsport to a lap of 2:04.258 seconds (108.355 mph).

“It’s an amazing pole for an amazing event,” Cameron said. “I just glanced at the time sheets and the top six or seven cars are within a second of each other. It shows you won’t be able to give up any time on the track or the pit lane.”

Parity was certainly the story in GTD qualifying with five manufacturers making up the top five positions, all separated by a mere 0.202 seconds. Leh Keen just missed the top spot in the No. 22 Weather Tech Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America with a lap of 2:04.268 (108.346 mph) while Jeroen Bleekemolen’s No. 33 Viper Exchange SRT Viper GT3-R rounded out the top three at 2:04.311 (108.309 mph). Those three lapped in within just 0.043 seconds of each other.

James Davison and his No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage qualified fourth with a lap 2:04.320 (108.301 mph) while Alessandro Balzan rounded out the top five in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia at 2:04.460 (108.179 mph).

Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of Saturday's 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring beginning at 10 a.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

Race Center

Circuit of The Americas

@ Circuit of the Americas
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Radio Start:
MRN, 12:45 p.m. (ET)

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