Sebring Qualifying

Pole winning Penske Acura. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Pole winning Penske Acura. [Photo by Jack Webster]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

The field is now all set and ready to go for the November running (postponed from the traditional March date) of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, the final race of a very challenging 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Ricky Taylor put the Penske Racing Acura DPi on the pole, besting Renger van der Zande in the Konica Minolta Cadillac. It marked Taylor’s 21st IMSA pole position. Third on the grid will be the other Penske Acura, which was piloted by Dane Cameron. Sebastian Bourdais followed in 4th spot in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac, then it was Harry Tincknell in the Mazda, followed by Pipo Derani in the Whelen Cadillac. The top six DPi cars were less than one half second apart in qualifying times.

Ricky Taylor: “It’s such an amazing way to end the championship. If you’re a fan you want it to come down to the last race, basically whoever wins the race wins the championship. I don’t think you could have scripted it any better.”

In LMP2 it was Patrick Kelly putting his ORECA LMP2 07 on point, leading the field of four LMP2 cars entered for Sebring.

Patrick Kelly in summing up his, and pretty much the entire grid’s, feelings on IMSA being able to survive and thrive during a very tough COVID-19 pandemic effected season:: “It’s been such an incredible season. It’s been so wonderful that IMSA was able to put it all together.”

In the GTLM class, Antonio Garcia put the #3 Corvette C8.R on pole (his 7th IMSA pole), followed by both BMWs and then Tommy Milner in the #4 Corvette. The Porsches, which were fast in practice, brought up the rear of the class, well off the pace of the lead cars.

Antonio Garcia: “The Corvette guys did a fantastic job. It’s been an amazing season. This year I had my first pole at Petit, missing it by a little bit. I think this is my first pole at Sebring, too, so I’m very happy with that too. The car seems to be really good, but I’m expecting a lot of close fights tomorrow with either BMW or Porsche but for sure we are starting at the best place there. Let’s see what tomorrow brings, it’s going to be a long one.”

In GTD, Jan Heylen in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R took the pole over a typically strong and deep GTD field of cars, besting Andrew Davis in the Audi R8 LMS GT3 by .70 seconds (which is quite a lot in this class).

Jan Heylen: “This is all about the championship. It’s fun to start on pole, but it’s all about tomorrow. I think we have a similar strategy to Petit Le Mans as far as the driver rotation goes with the exception of me qualifying the car. We learned a lot in Atlanta, especially in places we weren’t as strong throughout the race, being the out laps on cold tires. I think that cost us the race in Atlanta, if not the win at least a podium. I think we made some good changes to hopefully overcome that.”

The race is tomorrow morning and will be broadcast on NBC networks. The start comes on NBCSN at 10am, NBC network takes over from 3-6PM and finally NBCSN goes from 6PM till the finish.

By tomorrow night, the eventful 2020 IMSA season will be over and all the champions crowned in all the classes.

2021 will bring major changes to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with a new prototype class (LMP3), additions and subtractions of cars from teams and the same changes for drivers. It is going to be an interesting year.

In the meantime, Sebring will take 2020 out with a bang.

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