12H Sebring: Olivier Pla takes emphatic pole for Ligier


Olivier Pla led a Ligier one-two in qualifying for the 12 Hours of Sebring, just a day after the Michael Shank Racing car suffered damage in a practice crash.

The Frenchman set a fastest lap of 1:51.217 aboard the #60 Ligier JS P2-HPD to take his second consecutive pole position at the prestigious race. Pla will co-drive the Michael Shank-entered machine with John Pew and Oswaldo Negri Jr during tomorrow’s race.

Sharing the front row will be the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2-HPD, which in the hands of Daytona hero Pipo Derani came just 0.174s shy of the top spot.

Third quickest was the #31 Corvette Daytona Prototype of Action Express Racing with a 1:51.943 effort coming courtesy of Dane Cameron, who had topped the final practice session earlier in the day.

Cameron out-qualified his Action Express team-mate Christian Fittipaldi who fell two tenths short driving the #5 car.

Rounding out the top five was the third-quickest LMP2 entry, Mazda’s prototype driven by Tristan Nunez.

Prototype Challenge pole went to the CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09-Chevrolet that had dominated all four practice sessions prior to qualifying.

Colin Braun ended the day nine tenths clear of Tom Kimber-Smith in the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry, while the #20 BAR1 Motorsports machine will start third on the class grid.

The BMWs were formidable at Sebring on Friday (Photo courtesy of IMSA)

In GTLM, BMW led the way as both Team RLL-entered M6s made their way onto the front row for tomorrow’s race.

Bill Auberlen (#25) set the fastest lap of the session with a 1:58.402, with John Edwards (#100) slotting in 0.19s behind.

Starting third will be the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 which was driven in qualifying by Daniel Serra, while Richard Westbrook placed the #67 Ford GT fourth, just three tenths off the pace.

The two Corvette C7.Rs will begin the 12 Hours from fifth and sixth in class, ahead of the #911 Porsche, #62 Ferrari, #66 Ford and #912 Porsche.

The GTD category was equally close with the manufacturers once again tightly bunched at the sharp end. In the end it was Jeff Segal who headed the timesheets after registering a 2:02.350 aboard the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488-GT3.

Segal took pole by a margin of 0.03s, edging out the Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper of Jeroen Bleekemolen.

The Viper was closely followed by Jens Klingmann in the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6, before a gap of four tenths opened up to the #23 Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911-GT3R of Mario Farnbacher. Completing the top five was the identical #22 Alex Job Racing Porsche with Leh Keen at the wheel.

The 2016 12 Hours of Sebring – round two of the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship – is set to go green at 14:40 EST on Saturday, March 19.