A Ford EcoBoost/Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and a Ferrari F458 Italia of Risi Competizione led the Prototype and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes in Thursday’s opening practice session for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.
Scott Dixon led Prototype competitors with a lap of 1:52.357 (119.832 mph) on the historic 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit in Ganassi’s No. 02 Ford EcoBoost/Riley co-driven by Tony Kanaan and Sage Karam. Second in the session was Alex Brundle in the OAK Racing No. 42 Morgan/Nissan shared by Gustavo Yacaman and Olivier Pla with a lap of 1:52.858 (119.300 mph). The No. 5 Corvette DP of Action Express Racing was third, with Joao Barbosa running 1:53.404 (118.726 mph) in the car co-driven by Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais. The Action Express trio won the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
Dixon’s fast lap was a boost for his team. Neither of the two cars Ganassi fielded in the Rolex 24 finished the race; the No. 02 placed eighth in the P class, while the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Marino Franchitti finished 11th.
For Risi Competizione, being able to participate at Sebring is an accomplishment in itself after the team’s No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia was destroyed in an accident in the early hours of the Rolex 24. The team built a new car for the Twelve Hours, and Matteo Malucelli – briefly hospitalized after the Daytona incident – led the GTLM class on Thursday with a lap of 1:59.394 (112.769 mph).
“We are confident for Saturday, because we are on a good pace and the car is quite good,” Malucelli said. “We know that the race is 12 hours and that’s a long way. We were lucky, because it was a bad accident [at Daytona], but that’s racing. Now we are restarting from this point, and I just hope we are luckier here.”
Corvette Racing took the next two positions in GTLM. Tommy Milner was second in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R co-driven by Oliver Gavin and Robin Liddell, running 2:00.027 (112.175 mph), followed by Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R shared with Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe, which ran 2:00.111 (112.096 mph).
CORE autosport, Prototype Challenge (PC) class winners of the Rolex 24, led the class in Thursday’s opening practice as Colin Braun turned a lap of 1:55.382 (116.691 mph) in the No. 54 ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Jon Bennett and James Gue. Second was Raphael Matos in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry co-driven by Charlie Shears and David Ostella, running 1:56.633 (115.439 mph), followed by Bruno Junqueira in RSR Racing’s No. 09 co-driven by Duncan Ende and David Heinmeier Hansson, running 1:56.695 (115.378 mph).
The No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage driven by TRG-AMR’s James Davison, co-driven by Al Carter and David Block, led the GT Daytona (GTD) class with a lap of 2:03.762 (108.780 mph). Second with a lap of 2:03.800 (108.756 mph) was Kuba Giermaziak in the No. 30 Porsche 911 GT America of MOMO/NGT Motorsport co-driven by Henrique Cisneros and Christina Nielsen. Third was the No. 73 Porsche GT America of Park Place Motorsports, with Craig Stanton running 2:04.503 (108.142 mph) in the No. 73 Porsche GT America he shares with Dr. Jim Norman and Norbert Siedler.
The second TUDOR Championship practice will be held from 4:05-5:05 p.m. ET, with a 90-minute night session beginning at 8 p.m.