Vautier wins Sebring pole as track records fall

Vautier wins Sebring pole as track records fall


Vautier wins Sebring pole as track records fall


Tristan Vautier shattered the existing Prototype track record to capture the pole position for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Vautier, whose year-old GT Daytona track record was eclipsed earlier in Friday qualifying, turned a lap of 1m47.432s in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R, topping Neel Jani’s 2017 mark of 1m48.178s.

“This was a little unexpected, to be honest,” Vautier said. “We had quite a lot of issues in practice, and we barely ran. But we knew we left the [February] test with a good basis, so we decided to go back to what we knew from the test and it proved to work quite well. Today we just focused on our basics. It was unexpected, but you know me, I’m always pushing 101 percent.”

The session was also a learning experience for Vautier, who was surprised with the performance of the Continental Tire.

“It was unexpected the way the tires worked,” Vautier said. “Normally, you go quicker and quicker as the car gets lighter, but I think with the new tire spec and the heat, the tires came in really quickly.

“The lap times came when nobody expected them. It didn’t feel that good on those first laps; there’s so much grip and you’re still getting into it. So when I saw 47 on the dash, I didn’t expect it at all, usually the fast laps don’t happen that quickly. But at the same time, qualifying was the first opportunity we had this weekend to run with low fuel and new tires, because of our issues in practice.”

Olivier Pla came up 0.160s short, running 1m47.592s in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi. Ricky Taylor recovered from an early spin to qualifying third at  1m47.773s in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05.

Connor De Phillippi nipped James Calado by 0.058s to capture the GTLM pole, running 1m55.839s in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTLM.

Calado was second, 1m55.897s in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, followed by Jess Krohn, 1m55.985s in the No. 24 BMW. The top three qualifiers eclipsed Ryan Briscoe’s year-old track record.

Daniel Serra took more than a second off Vautier’s existing GTD qualifying mark, winning the class pole with a lap of 1m58.710s in the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3. It was Serra’s second consecutive pole – coming off a record-breaking lap at Daytona – with the team making a last-minute decision to enter the Sebring event.

Christopher Mies was second, 1m59.229s in the No. 29 Montaplast Audi R8 LMS GT3, followed by Jack Hawksworth, 1m59.251s in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3. The top six qualifiers bettered the year-old mark of 1m59.738s set by Vautier in a Mercedes AMG GT3.

Michael Shank Racing spent the day welding the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3, which sustained major front-end damage during Thursday’s practice. The team plans to have the car on track in time for the Saturday morning warm-up.