Final Qualifying Results for 12 Hours of Sebring

19 March 1999

Sebring, FL-March 18, 1999

With the front row set from yesterday's qualifying the mission for today for the rest of the teams was to find precious seconds and to work on race set-up. The top five positions did not change from yesterday's session. The second BMW of Winkelhock, Martini and Dalmas kept their third best time by standing on their time.

The jockeying for position from 6th to 32nd position was where the real battle was fought. The Ferrari 333 SP team of Wayne Taylor, Alex Caffi and Juan Manuael Fangio II moved from 8th to sixth place with a time of 1:53.101 for a speed of 117.77mph. The improvement of over half a second was welcomed by Taylor who commented "Trying to compete with the BMW's in a sprint race would be difficult. Since this is a twelve hour race and with our race experience we will be competitive."

The top ten of engine manufacturer's is a smorgasbord. BMW, Judd, BMW, Ford, Ford, Ferrari, Ferrari, BMW, Panoz and Ferrari. Notably missing from the top ten is Porsche. With the lone entry by Champion Porsche (911 GT1) in the prototype class, the team could only muster a qualifying time that was 18th. This race will mark the first time in many years that a Porsche is not listed among the top ten in qualifying. Last year, the Champion Porsche team could have won over-all if not for a five-minute penalty that was assessed for an illegal refueling nozzle.

The top 26 positions of the 61 car field is led by the new prototype class. This class is made up of WSC and GT1 cars. In the GTS class, the Corvette C5R of Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and John Paul, Jr. leads the way with a time of 2:02.99 for a speed of 108.37mph. The Corvette team like many of the other teams decided to stand on their time from Thursday. The battle in GTS will be a Porsche v.Corvette. The two factory Corvette's will be up against nine Porsche 911 Turbo's. The Saleen entry as a Saleen SR is also involved in the GTS fracas.

In GT class (formerly GT3 cars) the battle will be between Porsche and BMW. 14 Porsche's will take on the challenge from four BMW M3's. The Tom Milner led Prototype Technology Group (PTG) will start second and third in class. After a rather disastrous Daytona outing, PTG will be looking to bounce back with a solid showing at Sebring. The Alex Job Racing Porsche of Mike Fitzgerald, Randy Pobst and David MacNeil lead the GT class with a time of 2:10.370 for a speed of 102.17mph. The Alex Job group is coming off of a great race at Daytona and appears to be set for a good outing. Randy Pobst commented "We've gone to a soft set-up. The ride in our 911 is very comfortable. If you can make your tires last two stints, you can save 30 seconds, which is a lot of time."

So the qualifying is completed. Now the teams begin working on race set-up and the drivers begin the mental build-up toward raceday.

Top Three From Each Class

Drivers						Car			Time
Prototype
Kristensen/Lehto/Muller			        BMW V12 LMR	        1:49.850
van de Poele/Saelens/Enge			R&S MkIII Judd	        1:50.296
Winkelhock/Martini/Dalmas			BMW V1 LMR	        1:51.216

GTS
Fellows/Kneifel/Paul,Jr.			Corvette C5R		2:02.909
Sharp/Pilgrim/Heinricy				Corvette C5R		2:04.273
Kaufmann/Ligonnet/Stewart			Porsche 911 Turbo	2:05.935

GT
Fitzgerald/Pobst/MacNeil			Porsche 911 RSR	        2:10.370
Stuck/Said/Cunningham			        BMW M3		        2:10.596
Simo/Cunningham/Overbeek			BMW M3		        2:10.881

David Treffer-The Auto Channel

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