Joerg Bergmeister puts #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the pole; Wolf Henzler Second in Team Falken Tire GT2 Porsche after Factory BMW is Excluded
SEBRING, Fla. – March 19 -- The expected shoot-out between Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and Corvette for the 58th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has already begun even with the start of the race more than 12 hours away.
Porsche factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler (both Germany) put their respective Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs in first and second positions on the grid after the Dirk Mueller factory BMW was excluded from qualifying results after the post-session technical inspection. The Melo Ferrari qualified third, followed the two factory Corvettes.
The 58th running of the Sebring 12-hour event will take the green flag on Saturday, March 20, at 10:30 AM EDT, with live television coverage on SPEED TV starting at 10:00 AM. The first 90 minutes will be telecast (until noon EDT), and then continue on www.speedtv.com until 2:00 PM, with the final
8-1/2 hours live on SPEED. The checkered flag will fly at 10:30 PM, and network will stay on the air until 11:00 PM with complete post-race coverage and interviews.
Bergmeister, who, along with American Porsche factory driver Patrick Long, won the American Le Mans Series GT2 championship last year in the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, turned his fast lap on his third trip around the circuit.
“I was happy with the qualifying lap, and, at the moment, it was the most we could expect in that session,” said Bergmeister, who brought the car in two laps later and parked it to save wear on the tires – the same tires that must be on the car to start the race.
“We had an aggressive tire choice, and were honestly surprised that the others in the class were not as fast as they had been earlier in the week. Still, the pole position at the front of the grid will help us get a fast start,” said Bergmeister, whose German colleague Marc Lieb, also a Porsche factory driver, will join the team for tomorrow’s race.
Sharing the front row with the Lizards Porsche is the #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR qualified by Wolf Henzler, who was surprised by the grid position, said the tires did what he asked them to do during the qualifying session, and they are looking forward to the race. Wolf’s co-driver for the season is Bryan Sellers (USA), who helped Falken develop its GT2 tire last year with a 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The third driver for the team is Patrick Pilet (France), who drives for the IMSA Performance Porsche team (French team – “IMSA” is not related to International Motor Sports Association, sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series).
In LMP2, the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder, qualified by Klaus Graf, who will share the driving duties with car owner Greg Pickett (USA) and Sascha Maassen (Germany), will start on the front row after qualifying less than a tenth of a second off the pole. Their entry is the only Porsche RS Spyder running in the world in 2010 after Penske Racing won the American Le Mans Series LMP2 championship three years in a row from 2006 to 2008.
In the new GT Challenge class for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the Alex Job Racing entry qualified by Leh Keen (USA), the reigning Rolex Grand-Am GT champion, is on the pole in the Porsche he will share with Butch Leitzinger (USA) and Juan Gonzales (Mexico).
Eighteen overall victories, 65 class wins, 205 overall top ten finishes, and 13 consecutive wins (1976 – 1988) at Sebring make Porsche the most successful manufacturer by far in the history of the race. Their first victory on the airfield circuit in Central Florida 50 years ago, and Porsche’s first major overall international endurance victory, went to Hans Herrmann (Germany) and Olivier Gendebien (Belgium) in the factory Porsche RS 60.
PORSCHE SEBRING FACTS
Overall Wins: 18 (13-Year Winning Streak – overall, 1976-1988)
1960 – Hans Hermann/Oliver Gendebien Porsche RS 60
1968 – Hans Hermann/Jo Siffert – Porsche 907
1971 – Vic Elford/Gerald LaLarrousse – Porsche 917
1973 – Hurley Haywood/Peter Gregg/Dave Helmick – Porsche Carrera
1976 – Al Holbert/Michael Keyser – Porsche Carrera
1977 – George Dyer/Brad Frisselle – Porsche Carrera
1978 – Brian Redman/Charles Mendez/Bob Garretson – Porsche 935
1979 – Bob Akin/Roy Woods/Rob McFarlin – Porsche 935
1980 – Dick Barbour/John Fitzpatrick – Porsche 935 K3
1981 – Hurley Haywood/Al Holbert/Bruce Leven – Porsche 935
1982 – John Paul, Sr./John Paul, Jr. – Porsche 935
1983 – Kees Nierop/Wayne Baker/Jim Mullen – Porsche 934
1984 – Stefan Johansson/Mauricio DeNarvaez/Hans Heyer – Porsche 935
1985 – A.J. Foyt/Bob Wollek – Porsche 962
1986 – Hans Stuck/Bob Akin/Jo Gartner – Porsche 962
1987 – Bobby Rahal/Jochen Mass – Porsche 962
1988 – Klaus Ludwig/Hans Stuck – Porsche 962
2008 – Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Emmanuel Collard – Porsche RS Spyder
The 2010 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring marks the 50th anniversary of Hans Herrmann's victory at the legendary event in his 1960 Porsche RS 60. This year, the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is on the pole for the March 20, 2010 event.