Diaz Quickest In Sebring ALMS Drills
SEBRING, Fla. — Level 5 Motorsports rolled out its new Honda Performance Development prototypes in fine style Wednesday with the fastest time on the opening day of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón Sebring Winter Test.
Luis Diaz set the fastest lap in the afternoon session – a 1:53.044 (1:117.830 mph) effort in Level 5’s HPD ARX-03b.
Diaz’s time was nearly 0.8 seconds quicker than the pole time in last year’s P2 pole time for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. The 2009 P2 race-winner was a full second quicker than Pecom Racing’s ORECA-Nissan of Pierre Kaffer, Soheil Ayari and Luis Perez Companc.
“With the new cars and everyone knowing each other better, I think it’s going to be a strong year for us,” said Diaz, who is splitting time with Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker. “The car is very similar to last year’s car. I would say that the biggest thing today was learning the Dunlop tires. So far, they are very good tires and good people to work with. It was nice to be in P1 at the end of the day with the new car and new tires. There is a long way to go to the race, but I think we started on the right foot.”
Level 5’s second HPD prototype was third quickest on the day. Bouchut set the time of 1:55.759 (115.067 mph) during the morning session.
Extreme Speed Motorsports’ Johannes van Overbeek was the fastest GT driver in the Ferrari F458 Italia he shares with Scott Sharp. Van Overbeek set a time of 2:01.401 (109.719 mph) in the afternoon portion; it was good enough for a 0.018-second gap back to the Ferrari of Olivier Beretta, Gimmi Bruni and Toni Vilander. Their F458 is serving as a development car for the Ferrari factory and posted its best time in the morning.
Guy Cosmo was third in GT in the second ESM entry with a 2:01.544 (109.590 mph) in the 458 he drives with Ed Brown. The three Ferraris led from a brace of Corvettes, Porsches and BMWs.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ entry of Butch Leitzinger and Rudy Junco posted the best lap in LMP Challenge at 1:56.270 (114.561 mph). The PR1 ORECA FLM09 – a winner in class at Road America and Road Atlanta in 2011 – set its time in the afternoon session, as did Dempsey Racing’s entry of Henri Richard, Duncan Ende and Dane Cameron.
The Dempsey car’s best time at 2:01.419 (113.845 mph) and put it 0.43 seconds ahead of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s duo of Memo Gidley and Michael Guasch; their best lap was the morning session.
The two fastest GT Challenge times came in the afternoon. Green Hornet Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Damien Faulkner and Peter LeSaffre went quickest at 2:07.334 (104.607 mph). It was 1.2 seconds faster than TRG’s entry of Rui Aguas, Rob Kauffman and Spencer Pumpelly. The team expects stock car star Michael Waltrip to test the Porsche on Thursday morning as he gets his first look at Sebring.BREAKING NEWS: SPEED SPORT is back in print with a new monthly format! Subscribe for just $24.95. Special offer for former subscribers.