Phil Hanson starts the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday (17 Mar) eager to add his name to the historic race’s impressive Roll of Honour. The 18-year-old Briton shares the United Autosports Ligier JS P217 LMP2 sports-prototype with ex-Formula 1 and DTM champion Paul Di Resta (GB) plus Alex Brundle (GB) in the Florida race being run for the 66th time.
And while the second round of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup is only Hanson’s eighth LMP2 race of his career, the London teenager is focussed on following in the wheel tracks of Stirling Moss by winning the annual race outright. Hanson’s Ligier led the opening race at Daytona multiple times in January while gremlins ultimately caused an unrepresentative 13th class finish.
But a positive two-day test at Sebring last month (22-23 Feb) in which the Ligier consistently set competitive lap times and ran faultlessly clocking up over 1,000 trouble-free miles leaves Hanson confident of earning his first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship points of his career despite the race marking his Sebring début. Earlier this month, Phil clocked up further mileage in a successful Dunlop tyre test at Aragon in Spain (4-5 Mar).
Sebring is very tough on man and machine. The 3.74-mile track is notoriously bumpy, placing huge demands on the car’s components in a race where the winning car will likely clock up over 1,000-miles at an average speed of more than 100mph. In addition to the driver having to cope with the constant pounding and jarring caused by the uneven, mainly concrete track surface which buffets the car around, the race is expected to run in ambient temperatures exceeding 25 degrees Celsius. Four practice sessions, starting on Thursday (15 Mar), precede qualifying to set grid positions for the expected 43-car field. Saturday’s race is scheduled to start at 10.40am (local time).
- Sebring is -4hrs UK time
Phil Hanson (GB): Born: London, England. Aged 18.
“While it is vital for me to score points after our Daytona disappointment, my outright objective is to win the race. Sebring, much like Daytona, is one of the biggest sportscar endurance races in the world, so a victory here is much more important to me than the points that come with it.
“Sunset falls around three hours before the finish and driving in darkness at Sebring is much more difficult compared to Daytona where much of the track was artificially lit by floodlights. Having driven at the Sebring test last month, I think it’s even darker than Le Mans which is the only other track I’ve raced at in darkness.
“Heading to Sebring is going to be a little different to Daytona because the track is more demanding physically but the emotions behind entering a big race are pretty much the same. Both races are good benchmarks for me to pin myself up against some of the best drivers in motorsport. We had a really good [Sebring] test, the Ligier was working a lot better than it was at Daytona. I’m really looking forward to this race.”
Source. MPPR Ltd