SEBRING, Fla. (AP) Olivier Pla won Krohn Racing the pole for the Twelve Hours of Sebring by holding off a late charge by Ryan Dalziel.
Pla, from France, turned a fast lap at 1 minute, 51.152 seconds in Friday qualifying to give the Judd-powered No. 57 Ligier JS P2 the top starting spot. The car had led three of the four practice sessions leading into qualifying.
”I knew we have a very good package and a strong car,” said Pla. ”It’s always nice to start on pole, especially the pole at Sebring. Of course, 12 hours is a different story. I have done this race three times, and it was never easy. This is a very demanding track and we need to be very clever with our strategy.”
Pla is sharing driving duties with Nic Jonsson and Tracy Krohn.
Dalziel went 1:51.455 in the No. 1 Tequila Patron ESM Honda HPD to qualify second for Saturday’s 12-hour endurance event. Dalziel is teamed with Scott Sharp and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Joao Barbosa, in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP, qualified third. Ozz Negri, who put the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 on the pole for the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, qualified fourth.
Chip Ganassi Racing, winner of last year’s race at Sebring, was ninth after Joey Hand’s qualifying run in the Ford EcoBoost-powered Riley Daytona Prototype.
Team owner Ganassi noted earlier this week that winning back-to-back at Sebring will be difficult. The team has a different lineup this year than it did last year, when Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Marino Franchitti combined to give Ganassi his first Sebring win.
This year’s lineup of Scott Dixon, who was part of the Ganassi roster that won the season-opening Rolex, and Hand and Pruett is a stronger team than the one at Sebring last year, but Ganassi believes the entire field has improved.
”I like our chances more than I liked them a year ago, and I think our team has upped its game a little bit,” Ganassi said. ”But I think so has everyone else. We are going to have to wait and see, I think we might be a little more challenged than we were a year ago.”
In Prototype Challenge, where all the cars are ORECA FLM09s powered by Chevrolet V-8s, Martin Plowman took the class pole for BAR1 Motorsport, just ahead of Colin Braun for CORE Autosport.
In GT Le Mans, it was a tight battle between the two factory Porsche 911 RSRs, with Frederick Makowiecki in the No. 912 car besting the No. 911 sister Porsche driven by Patrick Pilet.
In GT Daytona, Jeroen Bleekemolen gave the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT a bit of redemption from 2014. Team owner Ben Keating was driving early in last year’s race when a parts failure caused the Viper to catch fire, and burn to the ground.
The team salvaged the car and rebuilt it, and it raced at the Rolex. Now Bleekemolen has the rebuilt Viper on the pole.