July 26, 2021

Sebring 12H: Derani takes pole, teammate Johnson crashes

DPi

Wayne Taylor Racing Acura driver Ricky Taylor was the first driver to get under the 1min46sec barrier, and he did it comprehensively with a 1min45.571sec. Then the Whelen Engineering AXR Caddy of Derani, that had set the pace throughout yesterday’s practice sessions moved to the top by 0.152sec. Taylor then shaved four hundredths off this gap, but the pair then pitted.

Renger van der Zande’s attempts to respond were hurt by encountering an LMP2 car through the final turn on one of his flyers in the Chip Ganassi Racing Caddy, but he had got within half a second of top spot when the red flag flew.

Johnson in the #48 Ally AXR Caddy had impressively lowered his deficit to Derani to just 1.2sec around the 3.74-mile 17-turn course, when he had a spin at Turn 16. Desperately trying to get a good run through T17 to start another lap, however, he lost it under braking, the car revolved and backed hard into the tire barrier, bringing out the red and thereby costing him his two best laps.

Johnson stepped from the wrecked DPi-V.R unaided.

Fourth went to the sole Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis, while Olivier Pla in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura was 1sec away from pole, but just enough to edge Loic Duval’s best effort in the JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac.

LMP2

This was all about Ben Keating in the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports entry vs WIN Autosport’s Steven Thomas, and it was the WIN driver who won the battle by 0.123sec.

Dwight Merriman was 1.2sec further back in the Era Motorsport machine, but 3sec clear of Jim McGuire of United Autosports and 3.8sec ahead of John Farano (Tower Motorsport).

LMP3

A couple of Road To Indy open-wheel stars – one current, one former – lit up the timing screens during the session for the smallest prototypes. Rasmus Lindh, 2019 Indy Pro 2000 runner-up, appeared to have an easier ride in the Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320 as he set a 1min56.001 but some extraordinary bravery from 2019 Indy Lights champion (and 2020 IndyCar driver) Oliver Askew drew the bucking and bouncing Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine car to within 0.065sec of the 19-year-old Swede.

Trans-Am star Gar Robinson did a fine job to be within a second of these two in the quicker of the Riley Motorsports Ligiers, separated from his teammate Jim Cox by 1.5sec and the CORE autosport entry of Jon Bennett.

Lance Willsey was 3sec down in the Sean Creech Motorsport entry with WIN Autosport’s Rodrigo Sales a further second behind.

GT Le Mans

A battle of hundredths and thousandths between the two Corvette C8.Rs of Antonio Garcia and Tommy Milner was resolved in the Spanish driver’s favor by 0.034sec, although both ducked under the 1min55sec barrier and took around half a second off Garcia’s pole from last year.

Despite their best efforts, however, they only pulled 0.15sec clear of an excellent lap by Connor De Phillippi in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan-run #25 BMW M8, who was a couple of tenths clear of teammate Jesse Krohn.

Cooper MacNeil did a fine job as the least experienced GTLM driver, qualifying just 1.2sec from top spot in the WeatherTech Racing Proton Porsche 911 GT3 R.

GT Daytona

Tim Zimmermann in the Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan and Jan Heylen in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R had an exciting duel for class pole, digging deeper every time by until on his final lap Heylen – last year’s polewinner – backed off after being edged by the German Lambo driver by 0.067sec.

However, the GRT Lambo was later disqualified and moved to the back of the field for having a wifi hotspot, promoting Heylen to his second straight Sebring 12H pole.

Their fight left them half a second clear of what appeared to be their strongest opposition, the Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F, but with his final flyer, Daniel Morad sprung the Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 into third ahead of Telitz and his teammate Frankie Montecalvo.

Sixth was Robby Foley scored sixth in the BMW M6 of Turner Motorsports

ABS failure caused Zacharie Robichon to fall off the track at Turn 13 in the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche but despite hitting the tire wall, he was able to continue without pitting – only to run wide at the same place a couple of laps later.

As per the new IMSA rules, the GTD class’s Pro drivers then fought for fastest time to score points, out on track at the same time as the GTLM cars held their grid and points qualifying session.

Jack Hawksworth took the wheel of the #14 Lexus RC F and took maximum points ahead of Laurens Vanthoor in the Pfaff Porsche, Franck Perera in the Grasser Lambo, Maro Engle in the Sun Energy1 Mercedes AMG GT3, and Zach Veach in the second Lexus.

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