Olivier Pla has scored the pole for the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, following a scintillating qualifying performance Friday at the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway.
Pla led the second and third practice sessions on Thursday in the No. 57 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd, and backed it up in the heat of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship qualifying on Friday evening to secure the top spot.
He originally set a 1:51.511 to set the pace, and then lowered the mark to 1:51.381 and the eventual pole time of 1:51.152 by the end of the session. That beat the past pole time of Sebastien Bourdais set last year of 1:51.917.
The Frenchman also won the LMP2 class pole for the first ever FIA World Endurance Championship race at Sebring in 2012, in an OAK Racing Morgan Judd. It’s also the second straight pole for the Ligier JS P2 chassis to start 2015, after Ozz Negri took the pole at Daytona.
Ryan Dalziel edged into second in the No. 1 Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-03b, at 1:51.455, right at the end of the session, in the open-top prototype.
The pair of Action Express Racing Corvette DPs were third and fifth, with the No. 5 car ahead of the No. 31 car.
Despite an engine change that rushed the team up until the final half hour before qualifying, the Michael Shank Racing crew got its No. 60 Ligier JS P2 Honda out and running for qualifying.
Negri qualified fourth at a 1:52.170. He had a moment during the session when he ran off and on at Turn 12.
Martin Plowman repaid the BAR1 Motorsports crew for its all-nighter repair effort with his first career Prototype Challenge class pole in the No. 16 Oreca FLM09.
Plowman dropped a 1:55.257, which was several tenths off his morning practice time, to move ahead of Colin Braun and take the top spot in Sebring qualifying.
The Englishman won three pole positions in 2012 in a Conquest Racing Morgan-Nissan. It’s also the team’s second pole in a row to start 2015, after Johnny Mowlem won the pole at Daytona.
Braun ended second in the No. 54 CORE autosport entry, just 0.070 of a second off Plowman’s best time.
Tom Kimber-Smith was third in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports car, with series returnee Conor Daly fourth in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports car.
The top four were covered by 0.491 of a second.
The Twelve Hours of Sebring gets underway Saturday at 10:40 a.m. ET, with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2.