By IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – For the second consecutive year, Tristan Vautier will start the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on the pole. This season, however, when he takes the green flag Saturday, there won’t be any cars in front of him.
That’s because his Motul Pole Award in 2017 came in the GT Daytona (GTD) class driving a Mercedes-AMG – the first in history for the German manufacturer. This time around, it’s in the top Prototype class driving the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. His lap of one minute, 47.432 seconds (125.326 mph) was 0.160 seconds ahead of Olivier Pla in the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi.
Ironically, Pla himself was a two-time Motul Pole Award winner at Sebring earning the top spot in consecutive seasons in 2015 and 2016.
It was an eventful session for Vautier who briefly went off track in Turn 10 early in the session. He rebounded on the following lap to take the top spot from then-fastest Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi car with eight minutes remaining in the 15-minute session. He beat his own fastest time one lap later.
“I just really like this track, it has a bit of everything you need as a driver,” Vautier said. “There are a lot of high-commitment corners like Turn 1 and Turn 2 and Turn 17. But the other parts of the track are very technical.
“There is a kind of flow to it with the pavement changes, and some corners off camber, some with camber. No corner is the same, I have a good time driving here. Of course, we have a good car, we can’t have a pole without a super setup. We’ve been lucky to have great engineers here.”
The No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi team has been the car to beat all weekend posting the fastest lap in three of the four pre-qualifying practice sessions and will roll off the grid third. Ricky Taylor ran a lap of 1:47.773 to earn the spot.
Pipo Derani – a 2016 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring overall winner – made it two Patrón ESM Nissan DPis in the top-four starting spots, qualifying fourth in the No. 22 machine at 1:47.837. Felipe Nasr completed the top five in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R at 1:47.853.
Live FOX Sports coverage of the 66th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET on FS1, with complete live streaming in the U.S. available on FOX Sports Go with FS1 authentication. IMSA Radio also will have live coverage of the race on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.