Benoit Treluyer started off the official running at the 12 Hours of Sebring in the best possible fashion, putting the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro fastest in the opening practice session for the 61st edition of the race.
Treluyer, who will share the car with Marcel Fassler and Sebring debutant Oliver Jarvis set the fastest lap of 1:45.908 to end the session more than seven tenths clear of Kluas Graf’s lap in the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD. The pair were, however, we much further clear of the remainder of the P1 field with Chris Dyson’s lap for third quickest ‘only’ 1.49.373 with the two Rebellion Racing Lola’s also in the subsequent second.
The second R18 hybrid was started by Allan McNish. However, the Scot was caught out by cold tyres in the opening laps of the session, spinning at turn 12 and damaging the front of the #2 car.
In P2 Simon Pagenaud used his final lap of the session in the #551 Level 5 Motorsports to set the top time. The late lap for the Frenchman, last year’s Indycar Rookie of the Year but also a former Peugeot Sport driver and 201 ALMS P1 co-champion, ensured the two Level 5 cars sandwiched Greaves Motorsport in the top three in class. Tom Kimber–Smith and Marino Franchitti were the fastest men in the second and third fastest cars in class.
Ed Brown was the fastest man in the #02 – the only one of the pair of Extreme Speed Motorsports HPDs to set a lap time in the session, though his 1:56.719 was over three seconds slower than Pagenaud’s pace setter.
Stefan Mucke – for Aston Martin Racing – headed the small matter of eight GT cars covered by a single second with the two Corvette Racing entries leading the pack behind the new spec Vantage. The eight cars in question covered every brand represented in class at Sebring, Kuno Wittmer fourth fastest in the #93 SRT Viper, Olivier Beretta fifth for Risi Competizione while Richard Lietz and Dirk Muller – for Porsche and BMW – sandwiched Pedro Lamy in the second Vantage for sixth, seventh and eighth.
Familiar names topped both the LMPC and GTC classes. Spencer Pumpelly installed Flying Lizard Motorsports’ #45 atop the latter early in the session with Jeroen Bleekemolen falling into second place for Alex Job Racing.
Pierre Kaffer – who has previously driven a Sebring in both LMP2 and GT machinery – was the fastest man in LMPC for DragonSpeed Mishumotors with another familiar name – Bruno Junqueira second fastest at the end of the 60 minute session.