In perhaps the most dramatic qualifying session of Friday afternoon’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts time trials, Daniel Serra put the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari on pole position for the 18-car IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class.
The Ferrari will start alongside the Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Christopher Mies – the difference between them only a half second. Jack Hawksworth was third fastest in the session in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3.
Leadership changed multiple times in the 15-minute session before the 33-year old Serra – a GTE class 24 Hours of LeMans winner last year — laid down his fast lap with less than three minutes remaining.
Seven cars posted times under two minutes and Serra’s speed was a new class record on the historic 3.74-mile, 17-turn circuit – bettering the mark (1:59.738) set by Tristan Vautier just last year.
Until the Brazilian Serra’s fast lap, six different drivers took turns atop the speed chart.
“It was an awesome session and I enjoyed every corner,’’ said Serra, whose only other start in the 12 Hours of Sebring was two years ago –when he finished seventh in a GTLM class Ferrari.
“In the morning and the lap we did yesterday I could feel the car was good, it was just a matter of putting all the sectors together. I knew we could do a good lap this morning. Audi was really fast as well. I thought it would be more close, but the advantage was almost half a second. I think we could predict the balance better than the others.”
Unlike most teams who will be cycling through three drivers, Serra’s team will split the race among four drivers – something he said the team has been working on.
“We are racing four drivers, so track time before qualifying was not a lot because we needed to change for four,’’ Serra explained. “The other cars are using three drivers.
“We have to work a lot on strategy because racing of four drivers, so the driving time is a bit tricky. But I think the team will figure out a way for good strategy though.’’
Vautier set yet another track record in the Prototype class winning the overall pole position with a fast lap of 1:47.432 in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi. He’ll start alongside Oliver Pla in the No. 2 Tequila Patron Nisssan DPi on the front row – leading the field of 42 cars to the green flag Saturday.
American Connor De Phillippi won the pole for the nine-car GTLM class in the closest grid competition of the day, securing the lead spot by .058-seconds over the Ferrari driven by Brit James Calado.