Audi heads first practice
Audi kept up its pre-race Sebring form by topping the weekend’s opening practice session. Romain Dumas, in the No.3 R18 he will share with Loic Duval and Timo Bernhard, set the pace with a 1m48.626s – a shade slower than the fastest time during testing, but enough to finish more than one second clear of the field. Perhaps surprisingly given Audi’s almost total lockout of the front three in testing, it was the ALMS-entered No.6 Muscle Milk HPD of Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf and Simon Pagenaud which carried the fight to the lead Audi.
Graf’s best lap of 1m49.762s was enough for second, just over three tenths of a second ahead of Marcel Fassler in the No.1 R18 he will share with Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer.
The third R18 of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello could only manage fifth, more than 2.5s down on the overall pace. The trio had previously topped the times in two of the four tests.
In its absence, the No.13 Rebellion Racing Lola B12 scooped fourth with a 1m51.105s.
The car will be shared by Andrea Belicchi, Harold Primat and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
Across in LMP2 the ALMS-entered No.055 Level 5 Motorsports HPD of Scott Tucker, Christopher Bouchut and Joao Barbosa set the pace.
The No.25 ACR-Delta ORECA-Nissan was second fastest, and hence top of the WEC P2 entries. Robbie Kerr, John Martin and Tor Graves will share the car.
ALMS-entries also led the way in GTE-Pro, with Oliver Gavin’s No.4 Corvette C6 leading the No.56 RLL BMW M3 of Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Jonathan Summerton.
The No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander was the highest WEC entry in third.
Ferrari’s 458 accounted for the fastest runner in the GTE-Am class, with the No.58 Luxury Racing car of Pierre Ehret, Anthony Beltoise and Francois Jakubowski finishing on top.
Practice 1 Results: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time 1. P1 Bernhard/Dumas/Duval Audi 1m48.626s 2. P1 Graf/Luhr/Pagenaud Muscle Milk HPD 1m49.762s 3. P1 Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer Audi 1m50.113s 4. P1 Belicchi/Bleekemolen/Primat Rebellion Lola-Toyota 1m51.105s 5. P1 Capello/Kristensen/McNish Audi 1m51.342s