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Hour # 3 Finds BMW Still Leading

20 March 1999

Sebring, FL-March 20, 1999

The #43 BMW V12 LMR team of Joachim Winklehock/Pierluigi Martini and Yannick Dalmas holds down the lead at the three hour mark. Following in second is the #20 Dyson Riley & Scott Ford of Butch Leitzinger and Elliott-Forbes Robinson. Car Owner Rob Dyson was scratched from the driving line-up when Dyson was overcome with severe back spasms. With the driving duties split between Leitzinger and EFR.the strategy of resting the drivers will become a greater necessity as the day wears on. Following in third place is the BMW V12 LMR of Kristensen,Lehto andMuller. The top three cars are the only ones on the lead lap. One lap down and breaking into the top five for the first time today is the #1 Panoz of David Brabham, Eric Bernard and Klaus Graf. In fifth place is the #27 Ferrari 333 SP of Freddy Lienhard, Didier Theys and Mauro Baldi.

In GTS class the #3 Corvette of Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and John Paul, Jr. have completed 76 laps. The Corvette team holds down a one lap lead over the #56 Porsche 911 Turbo of Martin Snow, Melanie Snow and Patrick Huisman. In third place, three laps down to the class leader is the #61 Porsche 911 Turbo of Kitchak, Slater and Hezemann. In fourth place, also three laps down to the leading Corvette is the #48 Porsche 911 Turbo Kaufmann, Ligonnet and Stewart. Fifth place is also held down by a Porsche, the #83 Porsche 911 Turbo of Brown/Hurtgen and Haupt is also three laps down to the class leader.

The close battle of the Prototype class is matched in the GT class. In GT class the #23 Porsche 911 team of Havens, Wagner and Collins is holding down a one lap lead over the #10 BMW of Stuck, Said and Cunningham. In third place is the sister car #7 BMW of Simo, Cunningham and Overbeek. The #7 BMW is 5 seconds behind their teammates. In fourth place is the #22 Porsche 911 of Fitzgerald, Pobst and McNeil. The #22 Porsche is one lap and 1 minute off of the class leader. In fifth place is the #02 Porsche of Murry, Ruther and Mowlem.

Retirements from the race have been coming in waves which would be normal for a 58 car field. The first car to go out was the #71 Porsche 911 Turbo of Montgomery, Mazzuoccola, Pilla and Kicak. They were soon followed by the first prototype retirement when the #11 Ferrari 333 SP with Angelelli, de Radigues and Lazzaro retired after completing 28 laps. The heat of the day is certainly contributing to the retirements but like any race mechanical difficulties are going to occur rain of shine.

The only heat related common theme that all the teams are discussing is the tire wear. The Goodyear and Pirelli engineers are examining the used tires like forensic scientists to search for future improvement.

Hour number 3 continues to be the BMW V12 LMR show.

David Treffer -- The Auto Channel