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Sebring Pre-Race Notebook
- Updated: March 18, 2017
***Nick Heidfeld topped warmup in the pole-sitting Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, posting a lap of 1:52.280. Risi Competizione’s James Calado was the pace setter in GT Le Mans, while Jeroen Bleekemolen and Kyle Masson were fastest in GT Daytona and Prototype Challenge, respectively. There were no incidents in the 20-minute session.
***Mazda elected to use warmup to scrub in tires for the race and practice driver changes rather than searching for a fast lap according to IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam.
***In addition to the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi and No. 4 Corvette C7.R, which both had its times disallowed in qualifying, the No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R will also start from the rear of the field, due to a tire change. Click Here for the final grid.
***The Rebellion Oreca Gibson is now carrying a Michel Vaillant logos on the car. The French comic book legend is serving as the primary sponsor of its two LMP2 entries in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year.
***Mercedes-AMG, which scored pole in only its second race with Tristan Vautier, is making its first professional sports car start at Sebring since winning a FIA GT Championship round at the circuit in 1997. Bernd Schneider and Klaus Ludwig drove a Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR to victory in the three-hour “Oktoberfest” race.
***It is the first time in 60 years that the German manufacturer has taken part in the 12-hour race, with a pair of privateer Mercedes-Benz 300SL having competed in 1957. The No. 18 300SL of Fred Windridge, George Reed and Rundle Gilbert finished first in the GT 3500 class, while the No. 17 300SL of drivers Chester J. Flynn and Ed Hugus finished third.
***Marino Franchitti has confirmed that he’s no longer employed by Ford. The Scot was replaced in the team’s WEC full-season lineup mid-season last year. “There’s no relationship there,” Franchitti told Sportscar365. “We’re good, there’s no problems there at all. I’ve still got a lot of friends there, and it was cool to be part of the development with that car.”
***WEC boss Gerard Neveu is among the international luminaries here. It’s understood Neveu has taken part in several meetings this weekend, ahead of the start of its season next month at Silverstone.
***Michelin’s popular trackside publication “The Alley” has been restructured for this year, with a dedicated edition profiling each GTLM manufacturer to be published throughout the season. Click Here for the first edition, featuring Corvette Racing.
***Be sure to download Andy Blackmore’s Spotter’s Guide for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, featuring all 46 starters for today’s race. Click Here to download the guide.
***While TV coverage of the race kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, the entire race will be streamed live on FOX Sports GO (with FS1 authentication), beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET. IMSA.tv will provide flag-to-flag coverage for international viewers, with IMSA Radio available worldwide.
***European viewers can tune into Motorsport.TV (formerly Motors TV) for full live coverage, in the first major race since the channel’s relaunch under Motorsport Network ownership. Mark Cole, Matt Howson and Chris Parsons will provide the call for English speakers, beginning at 2:30 p.m. BST. The channel is available on Sky Guide 447 or Virgin Media 54.
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report