Pre-race notes for the 12 Hours of Sebring

***Nick Heidfeld topped warmup in the pole-sitting Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, posting a lap of 1:52.280. Risi Competizione’s James Calado was the pace setter in GT Le Mans, while Jeroen Bleekemolen and Kyle Masson were fastest in GT Daytona and Prototype Challenge, respectively. There were no incidents in the 20-minute session.

***Mazda elected to use warmup to scrub in tires for the race and practice driver changes rather than searching for a fast lap according to IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam.

***In addition to the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi and No. 4 Corvette C7.R, which both had its times disallowed in qualifying, the No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R will also start from the rear of the field, due to a tire change. Click Here for the final grid.

***The Rebellion Oreca Gibson is now carrying a Michel Vaillant logos on the car. The French comic book legend is serving as the primary sponsor of its two LMP2 entries in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year.

***Qualifying track records were smashed in three of the four classes on Friday. Neel Jani’s overall pole was remarkably 2.974 seconds quicker than Olivier Pla’s pole time set last year, while all ten GT Le Mans class cars were under Bill Auberlen’s previous record of 1:58.402 set last year.

***Colin Braun’s 1:53.404 is the only previous lap record to have held, with Gustavo Yacaman narrowly missing out by 0.102 seconds in his Prototype Challenge pole-sitting BAR1 Motorsports entry.

***Tristan Vautier and Connor de Philippi, the top two qualifiers in GT Daytona, were both Mazda Road to Indy graduates. It marked the Frenchman’s first WeatherTech Championship pole and also the first for both SunEnergy1 Racing and Mercedes-AMG in IMSA competition.

***Mercedes is making its first professional sports car start at Sebring since winning a FIA GT Championship round at the circuit in 1997. Bernd Schneider and Klaus Ludwig drove a Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR to victory in the three-hour “Oktoberfest” race. It is the first appearance for the German manufacturer in the 12-hour race in 60 years, having taking a class win in 1957.

***Marino Franchitti has confirmed that he’s no longer employed by Ford. The Scot was replaced in the team’s WEC full-season lineup mid-season last year. “There’s no relationship there,” Franchitti told Sportscar365. “We’re good, there’s no problems there at all. I’ve still got a lot of friends there, and it was cool to be part of the development with that car.”

***Sports car racing legend Hurley Haywood is serving as Grand Marshal for today’s race, with NASCAR veteran Kyle Petty as the Honorary Starter. Haywood, a two-time Sebring winner, waved the green flag to get the Rolex 24 underway in January.

***Michelin’s popular trackside publication “The Alley” has been restructured for this year, with a dedicated issue profiling each GTLM manufacturer to be published throughout the season. Click Here for the first edition, featuring Corvette Racing.

***Be sure to download Andy Blackmore’s Spotter’s Guide for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, featuring all 46 starters for today’s race. Click Here to download the guide.

***While TV coverage of the race kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, the entire race will be streamed live on FOX Sports GO (with FS1 authentication), beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET.