Scott Dixon was the fastest around Sebring International Raceway as the 2014 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring begun with an hour long practice session for the teams and drivers of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The Kiwi, sharing the driving of #02 Chip Ganassi Racing entry with Tony Kanaan and Sage Karam, lapped the airfield track in 1:52.357, a time half a second faster than that of Alex Brundle, who made sure that OAK Racing’s LMP2 Morgan-Nissan was second on the timesheets as the series’ organisers search for parity between the competing specifications in the premier class.
Rolex 24 at Daytona winners, and so championship leaders, Action Express Racing were third fastest in the session. They were the best of the Chevrolet Corvette DP – the car hit hardest by performance balancing restrictions – Joao Barbosa’s lap in the #5 just over a second off Dixon’s lap.
Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian were fourth fastest in the session, the team using the same Riley-Ford package as the Ganassi team.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing were fifth fastest overall.
CORE Autosport were comfortably fastest in the LMPC car. The team dominated the Daytona weekend and the entry to be driven by Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and James Gue set down the early benchmark in the class with a time of 1:55.382 compared to the 1:56.633 from the Performance Tech Motorsports team.
Matteo Malucelli was the best of the GT Le Mans field in the rebuilt Risi Competizione Ferrari. The Italian, who was at the wheel for the horrific accident at Daytona is sharing the 458 Italia with countrymen Gimmi Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella for the race was over half a second – a huge margin compared to those normally seen in the class – faster than Tommy Milner at the wheel of the #4 Corvette C7.R. The sister Corvette was third fastest, the better of the two BMW Team RLL Z4 fourth.
The works Porsche team that won at Daytona – driving the #911 car – were only tenth fastest in class, the best 911 RSR coming not from the factory squads but from Team Falken Tire, the popular privateers making their first start in the series.
If the gap at the top of GTLM was unexpectedly wide, then the slender four tenths that divided the top pair of in GT Daytona made up for it.
James Davison was at the top end of the gap, taking the TRG–AMR Vantage around a lap in 2:03.762, just 0.038 quicker than Kuba Giermaziak in the MOMO/NGT Motorsports Porsche 911 America. A much more meaningful gap (0.703 seconds) behind was Craig Stanton in the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche.
Spirit of Race’s #51 Ferrari and #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS completed the class top five.
There are two further practice sessions to come on today (Thursday) for the TUDOR Championship teams, including a 90 minute night practice session starting at 8pm local time.