The 65th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring fuelled by ‘Fresh from Florida’ takes the green flag at 10:40 am (local time) on Saturday, March 18th 2017. The gates opened on Wednesday, March 15, and will remain open 24 hours a day through Saturday.
First run in March 1952, 12 Hours of Sebring saw some of the tightest racing over the ensuing 64 years, and this year, the 65th running of this legendary race, promises to be every bit as exciting. Forty-six cars across four classes will take to the 3.74-mile concrete circuit on Saturday, to battle it out for the highly sought-after honours.
Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani took the chequered flag in 2016 in their Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2-Honda. This year Sharp and Derani are joined by Ryan Dalziel in the Tequila Patrón ESM sponsored Nissan Dpi to find out if they can repeat the achievement. They will have ten other competitors in the Prototype class trying to prevent this from happening. Meanwhile, the Corvette Racing team will be going for its third consecutive Sebring GTLM class win against a field of hungry rivals.
The GTLM class is made up of a pair each of Corvette C7.R, BMW M6 GTLM and Porsche 911 RSR, while Ford are fielding a trio of GTs. A single Ferrari 488 GTE makes up this class of ten cars. In the GTD class, there are six Lamborghini Huracan GT3, three Audi R8 LMS GT3, three Mercedes-AMG GT3, three Porsche 911 GT3 R, a pair of Lexus RCF GT3, a pair of Acura NSX GT3, and one each of BMW M6 GT3 and Ferrari 488 GT3 for a total of 21 cars. Together, the GTLM and GTD classes make up 31 of the 46-car field.
As this report is published, Thursday’s Free Practice 3 (FP3) has been completed and all the pre-race running that remains is FP4 and Qualifying, both of which will take place on Friday. The latest Porsche FP3 timing results available therefore, are as follows:
|Class||Car No.||Driver||Lap time||Pos. in class|
(At the time of going to press, no further details were available)
Although these results for the Porsche cars look a little disappointing at first glance, the lap times are actually very close together and the race will prove both exciting and decisive.
Up to date scoring and event progress can be found here: https://scoring.imsa.com/
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “Our new 911 RSR celebrated a successful race debut at the season-opening round in Daytona. From this we gained a great deal of important insights that we now want to turn into an even better performance against very strong opposition. This alone will not be easy because this airfield course is a very special race track that puts huge demands on drivers and cars. However, as the most successful manufacturer in the history of the classic race, we have a reputation to uphold. With our customer teams, who started the season at Daytona with a GTD-class win, we’ll do our very best to achieve this.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport: “After Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring is the second classic of the season. This race is a brutal challenge. It’s only half as long as Daytona, but much harder because of the heat and the incredibly bumpy track. We’ve completed many test kilometres in Sebring with our new 911 RSR and line up on the grid very well prepared. And the prospects look good for a gripping fight for victory, particularly in the GTLM class.
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “Sebring is a very intense race. Unlike Daytona, where you have to keep something in reserve over first two-thirds of the race in order to have a strong car for the final hours, in Sebring you pull out all stops right from the start. It’s one of the big races in the USA that I haven’t yet won. So the motivation to win is huge, particularly as I’m convinced that the circuit is very well suited to our 911 RSR.”
Jörg Bergmeister (911 GT3 R #73): “To have any chance on this track you have to drive flat-out right from the start. Sebring is completely different from Daytona. The race is just half the duration, but twice as difficult. And the fans are great too. The mood that they create is better than at virtually any other race.”
The Sebring International Raceway Official Pace Car always attracts a good deal of attention, and this year a Chevrolet Corvette will pace the field for the 12 Hours of Sebring. The weather forecast is for fine weather with temperatures between 13-26°C and no rain for the race.
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche Werkfoto