Cooper MacNeil (Hindsdale, Ill.), Matt Campbell (Australia), and Mathieu Jaminet (France) will start from the third row in GTLM for tomorrow’s 69th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
MacNeil had the wheel of the red-white-and-blue WeatherTech Racing Porsche RSR for the 15-minute qualifying session. In his first ever GTLM qualifying drive, he posted a time of 1:56.119 good for fifth in class. The Proton Competition led team is looking to rebound from a tough result at the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in January.
“Practice was super solid,” MacNeil said. “We tested here a month ago, so we had a good baseline set-up to start with yesterday. We ended up P2 in the first practice and were fastest in the other two sessions. Qualifying was about as good as I could have hoped for. It was my first time qualifying in GTLM ever. To be 1.2 seconds off the pole here at Sebring, which is not an easy race track, I’m quite proud of that effort. We have a few positions to make-up, but we also have 12 hours tomorrow to do it.”
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing
The Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports has scored an excellent starting position in the qualifying for the 12-hour race at Sebring. Jan Heylen planted his No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the second grid spot in the GTD class. For tomorrow’s race, he shares the cockpit of the 500+hp GT3 vehicle from Weissach with the American works driver Patrick Long and his compatriot Trent Hindman. In 2020, the team from the US state of Ohio clinched a class victory at the same venue. In the GTLM class, Cooper MacNeil from America secured the fifth grid spot with the Porsche 911 RSR fielded by the WeatherTech Racing squad. The experienced amateur racer shares the number 79 vehicle with works drivers Matt Campbell from Australia and Mathieu Jaminet from France.
The GTD qualifying, in which amateurs and professionals share driving duties in the cockpits, was held for the first time following a new, two-part procedure. In the first 15 minutes, the gentlemen drivers went for grid positions, with professional drivers hunting for points in the second session. In the faster GTLM category, the starting positions and points were determined in one session.
Pfaff Motorsports experienced bad luck in the first part of the qualifying. During his first attempt at securing a top grid spot, the Canadian Zacharie Robichon made a braking error in Turn 10 and was unable to improve due to deteriorating tyres. Although the No. 9 car takes up the race from P13 in the GTD class, it still scored the most points of all Porsche customer teams in the second qualifying segment. Works driver Laurens Vanthoor posted the second quickest lap time and thus earned 32 precious points towards the championship. The two Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Hardpoint EBM squad take up the endurance race in Florida from positions ten and eleven.
The twelve-hour race at Sebring gets underway on Saturday, 20 March, at 10:10am local time (3:10pm CET). The entire race can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on http://www.imsa.com. Live timing is available at scoring.imsa.com.
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Jan Heylen in Wright Motorsports car and our works driver Laurens Vanthoor at the wheel of Pfaff Motorsports’ vehicle put in outstanding drives. The pair made the most of the Porsche 911 GT3 R’s potential and achieved a great starting position as well as critical points. All in all, we’re heading into the race day feeling very optimistic. The preparations for the long-distance classic ran very cleanly and systematically during the practice sessions. We expect a strong performance from our customer cars.”
Jan Heylen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “Second on the grid is good, but I’m still a little disappointed. I was at the top of the timesheet for a long time. Ultimately, I was just 0.067 seconds off pole position in our class – so close and yet so far. More would definitely have been possible but I didn’t get the chance during practice to get used to the fresh tyres. I lacked the experience. Still, that’s complaining at the highest level. Now we’re looking forward to the race.”
Cooper MacNeil (Porsche 911 RSR #79): “That was a clean qualifying for me. I found a nice gap out on the track and managed to turn my laps without any traffic. Our focus during the practice sessions was solely on preparing for the race. The speed over a flying lap doesn’t matter at all over twelve hours. We’re well prepared for the big race and tackle the Sebring classic with great confidence.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “My teammate Zach had brake problems twice during his qualifying laps. Before I went out in the second segment, we reset the car in the hope that everything would work again. And that was the case. I could really push the limit on my laps and score important points with second place. It doesn’t matter that we start the race from the back of the grid. In a race over twelve hours, the world looks completely different again.”
Result GTLM class
1. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette #3, 1:54.910 minutes
2. Milner/Tandy/Sims (USA/GB/GB), Corvette #4, 1:54.944 minutes
3. Eng/de Phillippi/Spengler (A/USA/CDN), BMW #25, 1:55.062 minutes
5. MacNeil/Campbell/Jaminet (USA/AUS/F), Porsche 911 RSR #79, 1:56.119 minutes
Result GTD class
1. Simpson/Perrera/Zimmermann (ZA/F/D), Lamborghini #19, 2:00.010 minutes
2. Long/Hindman/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 2:00.077 minutes
3. Telitz/Hawksworth/Kirkwood (USA/GB/USA), Lexus #14, 2:00.504 minutes
10. Nielsen/Legge/Beatriz (DK/GB/BR), Porsche 911 GT3 R #88, 2:02.613 minutes
11. Ferriol/Bamber/Estep (USA/NZ/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #99, 2:03.144 minutes
13. Robichon/Vanthoor/Kern (CDN/B/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 2:29.063 minutes
Zimmermann, in the No. 19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3, was fastest in the first session following a back-and-forth duel with Jan Heylen. Zimmerman initially won out with a lap of 2 minutes, 0.010 seconds (112.190 mph) around the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit, but the No. 19 failed post-qualifying technical inspection and will start the race from the rear of the field. The car had a Wi-Fi hotspot installed, which is a violation of IMSA’s GTD telemetry regulations.
Therefore, Heylen’s 2:00.077 lap (112.127 mph) in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R claimed the Motul Pole Award – the second straight at Sebring for Heylen. The No. 16 went on to win November’s season-ending Sebring Twelve Hour.