Marcel Fassler proved himself faster than anyone else at Sebring in qualifying, taking pole position to the 61st edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring to lead an all Audi R18 e-tron quattro front row.
Fassler set a fastest lap around the 3.74 mile track of 1:43.886 to take pole for the #1 car he will share with Benoit Treluyer and Oliver Jarvis for the race. Allan McNish, who will share with Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi, qualified the #2 car second fastest.
“It was a really nice feeling to climb out of the car and see my name at the very top of the time monitor,” said Fassler. “It was another incredibly close duel between Allan and me – this time I came out on top in the end. Aside from a thrilling qualifying session, this is obviously a perfect starting base for the race on Saturday.”
McNish, running with Toyota-esque wheel arch extensions flanking the rear wing, held pole position himself during the session, and though he improved his time once Fassler had moved ahead he was only able to cement his place in second with a lap nine-thousandths slower than his opponent in the other Audi – without the wheel arch additions.
In narrowing the gap to such an extent McNish made sure that both Audis were under the previous qualifying track record set by Marco Werner in an Audi R10 TDI back in 2007, Fassler obviously becoming the new record holder on Audi’s final race in P1 at Sebring before the 2014 creation of the United SportsCar Racing series prohibits the class from entering the event.
“What a qualifying session!” enthused McNish. “Although we expected it to turn into a duel between the two Audi cars we wouldn’t have thought that the outcome would be this close. The conditions on the track have continuously improved since yesterday so that I was able to really push.”
“Qualifying yet again showed what we’ve been seeing here the whole time,” said team technical director Ralf Juttner. “Whenever our two cars are out on track together we’re experiencing a fight in the range of hundredths. That’s nice and promises a thrilling race. Still, we’ve got to watch out for the competition because the situation can become a lot closer on Saturday. We’ll need a few hours before knowing how the relative power in the field will pan out then.”
The 61st 12 Hours of Sebring begins at 10:45am local time (2:45pm UK time) on Saturday March 16.