SEBRING, Fla. - It was a banner day for Acura and Acura Team Penske Friday in qualifying for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Dane Cameron scored his third career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Pole Award and will lead the 38-car grid to the green flag for Saturday’s 12-hour race with a lap of one minute, 45.865 seconds (125.837 mph) in the No. 6 Acura DPi for Acura Team Penske.
Acura also scored the pole in the GT Daytona (GTD) class with Trent Hindman in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 for Meyer Shank Racing. It is the first time the manufacturer has sat on the pole in both classes on the same weekend.
It was Cameron’s third career Sebring class pole, also earning the top spot for Genoa Racing in 2011 and Turner Motorsport in 2014. His lone Sebring win came from the pole in 2011. He will be joined in the Twelve Hours by co-drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud.
“There is nothing better than the view in the front,” said Cameron. “I’m super, super proud of this effort. “Acura Team Penske has been doing a good job. Last year was good, but definitely not up to our standard. We worked super hard over the winter and worked with HPD to try to make improvements to figure out our weaknesses. We started strong at Daytona and starting strong again here. I’m just really proud of the effort and to be strong in year two making sure we’re improving on the things we learned from last year.”
Mazda Team Joest continued to show the speed it displayed back in Daytona with Tristan Nunez qualifying the No. 77 Mazda DPi in the second position, one race after Oliver Jarvis put it on the pole at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Nunez’ lap of 1:46.011 was 0.146 behind Cameron’s pole-winning time.
Helio Castroneves made it two Acura DPi’s in the top three in the No. 7 Acura DPi, while Action Express Racing’s pair of Cadillac DPi-V.R.s rounded out the top five. Filipe Albuquerque qualified the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi fourth, while Pipo Derani drove the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi to fifth.
Derani enters the weekend as the winningest active driver in terms of overall victories at Sebring, winning in two of his three career starts (2016, 2018).
The Rolex 24-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Wayne Taylor Racing qualified sixth. The team has won the last two IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races, the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (Oct. 2018) and January’s Rolex 24. The car also finished second at Sebring one year ago.
McMurry, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Scores LMP2 Pole
PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports narrowly missed the Motul Pole Award one race ago in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, qualifying second in the prestigious season-opening race. Setting out to improve on that position Friday in qualifying for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway, the team did just that with Matthew McMurry laying down a flyer right at the checkered flag to score his first career Motul Pole Award.
That lap of 1:49.728 in the No. 52 ORECA LMP2 edged out Kyle Masson in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports LMP2 by just 0.011 seconds. Leading much of the session, McMurray was jumped by Masson with just two minutes remaining and achieved the pole-winning time on the final lap of the 15-minute session.
“It was a fun qualifying, it was very close between me and Kyle, going back and forth,” said McMurray. “I got him back by a hundredth at the very end. It was a different qualifying experience than the previous years. The Michelin comes in much quicker and in total, holds its grip a little longer. It was fun to see how much the track changed since this morning’s practice.”
Pilet Scores GTLM Sebring Pole
It was a hard-fought qualifying session for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class as drivers went all out, sliding off track at times, seeking the pole position for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
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.”
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.
Hindman Earns First WeatherTech Championship Motul Pole Award in Meyer Shank Acura
In his first full-time season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Trent Hindman is already delivering for the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX team.
On Friday morning at Sebring International Raceway, Hindman collected the Motul Pole Award in the GT Daytona (GTD) 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.