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