Porsche & Acura Top Sebring GT Qualifying

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Patrick Pilet celebrates after earning the GT Le Mans class pole Friday at Sebring Int'l Raceway. (Sarah Weeks Photo)

SEBRING, Fla. – It was a hard-fought qualifying session for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class as drivers went all out, sliding off track at times, seeking the pole position for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts.

Coming out on top was Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR with a time of one minute, 55.899 seconds (114.942 mph). It was Pilet’s first pole since 2015 at Circuit of The Americas and makes it two-for-two for Porsche GT Team in 2019, as Pilet’s co-driver Nick Tandy scored the pole at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

“It’s a great presentation for Porsche,” said Pilet. “It was one of our weaknesses last season. But the tires Michelin provides this season are really good. Last season you could pick a tire for qualifying and for racing. Now you have to use the same tire for the start of the race. I think that is to our advantage because we are faster over the longer runs with the right tire.”

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Pilet, Tandy and endurance driver Frederic Makowiecki are the only defending winners of the Twelve Hours of Sebring to return with the same lineup that won in 2018 and hope their experience can combine for Porsche’s 96th victory at historic Sebring International Raceway. The next winningest manufacturer is Corvette with 41 wins.

“We have a really good spirit,” added Pilet. “We are good friends and sharing. We have a good time outside of the car. We had a lot of success last year and a lot of victories. We were good at Le Mans, and this year we were good at Daytona, but had some troubles at 16 hours, so we didn’t get what we wanted.

“If you look at Porsche results, it’s good. If you look at the track it’s not designed for our car because it is quite bumpy, but we have the package for success for the rest of this weekend.”

Laurens Vanthoor was initially thought to have made it an all-Porsche front row, qualifying the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR in second place, but will start at the end of the class grid after being issued a post-qualifying penalty for not proceeding directly to tech post-qualifying.

With the penalty, the No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia has been elevated to the second position. Garcia originally qualified third in the car he will share with Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller.

In the GT Daytona class, Trent Hindman is already delivered for the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX team.

On Friday morning at Sebring Int’l Raceway, Hindman collected the Motul Pole Award in the GT Daytona class with the first lap time of the weekend under two minutes at one minute, 59.917 seconds (111.091 mph).

Hindman – who has finished in the top 10 in all seven of his previous WeatherTech Championship starts – will codrive in tomorrow’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts with Mario Farnbacher and Justin Marks.

“It’s got a nice ring to it, first WeatherTech pole, and hopefully it’s my first of man,” said Hindman. “Between everyone in Meyer-Shank racing and all the guys over the wall who are day-in and day-out, putting in the effort, staying here, getting up early. Acura, HPD, it’s just been sort of a surreal moment. I’m grateful I can be here. It’s the least I can do as a driver to pay them back. Now we get to try it all again tomorrow.”

Rounding out the front row will be the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 driven by Robby Foley. The BMW has shown speed all weekend, topping the second practice on Thursday.