Benoit Treluyer led largely unchallenged through the first hour of the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring, Audi teammate Tom Kristensen ending the opening hour in second.
Starting from the pole position earned by Marcel Fassler in yesterday’s qualifying Treluyer led into turn one as the two Audis fell into numerical order and began – as expected – to pull away at the head of the race from the privateer petrol engine cars. Behind the two Audis – a position potentially crucial for the team running the full American Le Mans Series (ALMS) third was initially occupied by Nick Heidfeld in the #12 Rebellion Racing Lola coupe. However, in a lap with minor mistakes the German fell to fifth as first Klaus Graf, then Andrea Belicchi moved past.
Freed from behind the Rebellion car Graf pulled away and was briefly in second when the two Audis pitted in unison just short of 40 minutes into the race. The gap between the two e-tron quattros, previously only a handful of seconds was inflated by the #2 taking a fresh set of tyres, the increased gap allowing Graf to take second for a handful of laps before he too made his own stop falling back into third place.
Ryan Hunter-Reay led P2 at the end of the hour having taken the lead from Tom Kimber-Smith and Greaves Motorsport when the Brit was caught in traffic.
The main dramas of the first 60 minutes were in GT. Oliver Gavin broke away to lead from pole, while the typical class melee broke out in a battle for second place, initially with Pedro Lamy at the head of the train for Aston Martin Racing. Risi Competzione would take second place in the heat of battle, while Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette was hauled into the penalty box for a 60 second stop-go after nudging Jon Bennett in the #05 PC off the track while trying to keep pace with Lamy and company.
Gavin would lead to the end of his stint before handing over to Tommy Milner as the end of the hour approached. The #4 car would fall to third for the end of the hour, the GT class’ two Ferarris running one and two with Risi leading the West/Alex Job Racing entry.
Following the penalty the race for Garcia and the #3 squad would get worse when the Spaniard brought the car behind the wall reporting it being stuck in gear. There were problems for another contender in GT when Darren Turner pitted in the #97 Aston Martin with overheating issues resulting from minor contact on track.
Also in the pits in the opening hour was the DeltaWing, the car beneath Andy Meyrick dropping a cylinder in the 4-pot Elan unit.
With Bennett plummeting down the order in the CORE Autosport Pierre Kaffer took the lead in PC while at the end of the hour the GTC order reflected the qualifying result with Andy Lally leading for Dempsey/Del Piero Racing from Alex Job Racing and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
Sean Edwards ended the hour in third for NGT Motorsport, though only after he had fought back up the order having been passed by both Spencer Pumpelly and Jan Heylen in the opening laps.
2013 12 Hours of Sebring class standings after 1 hour
#1 Audi – Fassler/Jarvis/Treluyer
#2 Audi – di Grassi/Kristensen/McNish
#6 HPD – Dumas/Graf/Luhr
#552 HPD – Hunter-Reay/Pagenaud/Tucker
#41 Zytek – Kimber-Smith/Lux/Zugel
#01 HPD – Brabham/Cosmo/Sharp
#81 ORECA – Kaffer/Schultis/Simon
#8 ORECA – Cumming/Johansson/Marcelli
#500 ORECA – Heinemeier Hansson/Nunez/Shears
#62 Ferrari – Beretta/Bruni/Malucelli
#23 Ferrari – Bell/Keen/Sweedler
#4 Corvette – Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
#27 – Porsche – Dempsey/Foster/Lally
#22 – Porsche – Bleekemolen/MacNeil/von Moltke
#30 – Porsche – Cisneros/Edwards/Seefried