Prototype Pole Belongs To Corvette DP, Bourdais

Based on the team’s performance in practice, Sebastien Bourdais didn’t have great expectations for Friday afternoon’s Prototype (P) qualifying.

His main goal was to run a few good laps to get a better feel for the car’s performance.

Bourdais not only met but exceeded that goal, winning the TOTAL Pole Award for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida with a lap of 1 minute, 51.917 seconds (120.303 mph). He took the top spot in the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype co-driven by Action Express Racing teammates Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.

Saturday’s race serves as both the second round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. The event begins at 10:15 a.m. ET. Live FOX Sports 1 coverage runs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., with the remainder of the event streamed live on FOX Sports 1 also will carry a three-hour highlight show on Sunday beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET.

“We were not sure where we were going to be, because it was difficult to get in a good lap [in practice] this morning,” Bourdais said. “Traffic was very difficult, and it was tough to get a read on the car because we were always on the line and we couldn’t set a rhythm. It was better in qualifying, because I was able to string together a few good laps.”

The Action Express Racing trio is looking to become the first combination to win both of American endurance racing’s crown jewels overall in the same year since 1998, when Gianpiero Moretti, Mauro Baldi and Didier Theys won both the Rolex 24 and Twelve Hours in the MOMO Ferrari 333SP, joined by Arie Luyendyk at Daytona.

“This is a great way to start after Daytona, and I hope we can keep it up,” Bourdais said. “Just because we were fast today doesn’t mean we’ll have it tomorrow. We’ll reset the pace tomorrow and see what will happen. I hope we can keep it up.”

Demonstrating how hard they were pushing, a number of contenders – including Scott Pruett, Scott Dixon, Ricky Taylor and Richard Westbrook – got off course during the 15-minute session.

“That shows how difficult conditions are here at Sebring,” Bourdais said. “A lot of guys made mistakes before they even banked a lap. With a wind like we had today, you get a double-faced car that goes from oversteer to understeer and changes throughout the lap.”

Olivier Pla qualified second, running 1:52.086 (120.122 mph) in the No. 42 Nissan/Morgan for OAK Racing co-driven by Alex Brundle and Gustavo Yacaman.

Starting on the second row will be the No. 10 Corvette DP of Wayne Taylor Racing, with Ricky Taylor turning in a lap of 1:52.544 (119.633 mph) co-driving with his brother Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli. Ryan Dalziel, ran fourth with a lap of 1:52.662 (119.508 mph) in the No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda co-driven by Scott Sharp and David Brabham.

Fifth on the Prototype grid went to Klaus Graf in the No. 6 ORECA/Nissan from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. Graf’s best lap was a 1:52.667 (119.503 mph) in the car he is sharing with Lucas Luhr and Jann Mardenborough.