57th Annual 12-Hours of Sebring Approaching Fast
Audi, Acura and BMW to Debut New Cars
By Carl Wagenfohr
Photo by Carl Wagenfohr
SEBRING, Florida - The international sports car endurance racing fraternity will be making its 57th pilgrimage to historic Sebring Raceway next weekend, March 18-21, and this year's event promises to be as exciting as any before it.
The top flight LMP1 class will be hotly contested by six teams including Audi, whose diesel-powered R15 TDI will be making its world debut in preparation for the 24-Hours of LeMans. Audi will be fighting for its eighth overall win in ten years at Sebring.
After making its North American debut in last year's race with a single entry, Peugeot has entered two of its diesel-powered 908 HDi prototypes for Sebring. Four-time Champ Car champion and former St Petersburg resident Sebastien Bourdais will be making his only North American appearance this year at the wheel of one of the Peugeots. The remainder of the racing season will find Bourdais competing for the Formula 1 World Championship, driving for the Italian team Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Acura will be stepping up to the LMP1 class with its ARX-02a that was presented last month at the annual Sebring Winter Test. The new car will be campaigned by the Patrón Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports teams.
Autocon Motorsports and Intersport Racing will round out the 9-car LMP1 field with a pair of Lola B06/10 AER prototypes.
The GT2 class will be contested by eight different manufacturers, more than any other major racing series has in their entire field. Entries from Aston Martin, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, Panoz and Porsche fill out the roster with all eight capable of earning a podium finish.
But it's the BMW that will likely gain the most attention. Absent from the ALMS Series since 2006, a pair of BMW's new V-8 powered M3's will be campaigned by Rahal-Letterman Racing. An experienced team consisting of Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Tommy Milner and Dirk Müller will handle the driving duties.
The four day Sebring event is more than just the American LeMans sports cars. Track action will be nearly continuous, with open wheel, GT and Touring car events filling-out the weekend schedule. Open wheel Formula Atlantic, Star Mazda and Skip Barber Mazda are driver development series where the cars are essentially identical and the drivers make all the difference. These events will likely offer the weekend's closest racing.
The Porsche GT3 Challenge, Speed World Challenge Touring and Speed World Challenge GT events draw a lot of fan interest with race cars that are based on street vehicles including Porsche 911 GT3, Corvette, Lexus IS300, Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Volvo S60, Dodge Viper, Mazda6, Acura TSX, Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Gallardo, Saleen SR, Pontiac GTO and BMW 328i. A vintage racing series will rekindle your memories of the cars of the 60's, 70's and 80's.
Gates open to the public at 6 am on Wednesday, with practice, qualifying and racing starting at 8 am on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Saturday is reserved for the 12-Hours of Sebring, with the green flag dropping at 10:30 am.
Tickets are available at the gate, with a full weekend superticket available for $100, or a Saturday-only ticket for $80. Car parking is free in the lots outside the track, and ranges from $25 to $75 inside. RV parking is $75 to $95 depending on location.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition