TUDOR United SportsCar

TUSCC: Krohn Leads Final Two Thursday Sessions

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Texas entrepreneur Tracy Krohn’s lime green and blue liveried team may have the least experience in terms of competing in the prototype form of sports car racing, among the squads that have signed into the paddock at Sebring International Raceway. However, if the final two practice sessions showed anything on Thursday afternoon and evening, it is indeed possible for a young team to teach an older, more experienced one a new trick, or in this case two to be more precise.

Via the efforts of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship second-year veteran Olivier Pla, the Krohn Racing Judd-powered Ligier JS P2 topped the timing sheets in each of the final two periods of track time for Saturday’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, maxing out with a personal best lap of 1 minute, 51.973 seconds early in the evening session, the fastest overall lap of the day on the 3.7 mile circuit. It is the second time this season, that a Ligier has posted the best lap in practice as Michael Shank Racing’s JS P2 coupe with Honda V-6 turbo power took the honors at Daytona and would back it up with a pole position winning run in qualifying the following day. Whether or not Krohn Racing can follow suit on Friday however, is not the biggest question mark at this point. The bigger focus is on the 12 hour distance ahead of the team on Saturday, where the reliability of the team’s Judd V-8 engine will be put to the test. The team retired from the Rolex 24 at Daytona two months ago due to a blown motor. Another question is whether Pla’s co-drivers Nic Jonsson and team boss Tracy Krohn can match the Frenchman’s pace. While Sweden’s Jonsson was comparable, Krohn had his difficulties on Thursday evening including a lazy spin in turn ten. The amateur driver was able to escape the shunt suffering no damage.

Best of the rest on Thursday night and overall was Action Express Racing, the fastest runner in the first TUSCC session on Thursday morning. Sebastien Bourdais would settle for second fastest in the evening session, a quarter of a second behind at 1:42.246 in the No. 5 Chevrolet Corvette DP. Michael Shank Racing, the other Ligier coupe runner was third quick with Oswaldo Negri, Jr., followed by two more Corvette DPs: Jordan Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10, and Richard Westbrook in the No. 90 Visitflorida.com Racing entry.

After struggling for pace at Daytona with the Honda ARX-04b coupe, Extreme Speed Motorsports’ switch to last year’s ARX-03b open top for Sebring has yet to produce the desired move up the leader board. The team languished at mid-pack in the Prototype division throughout Thursday, closing out the evening session with Ryan Dalziel posting their best lap in seventh overall, but over two seconds off the pace set by Olivier Pla. Also surprisingly off the leading pace was Chip Ganassi Racing, who won the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and also enters the Mobil 1 12 Hours of  Sebring as the defending champions. Scott Dixon was only ninth fastest on Thursday evening in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost-Riley DP.

In Prototype Challenge, Tom Kimber-Smith was fastest on Thursday night for Daytona winners PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports at 1:56.465, a personal best for the team, but still over a second off the fastest lap overall in the division, set in the morning running by CORE autosport’s Colin Braun. BAR 1 Motorsports was second fastest in the nightcap session, but the team will have extra work to do to have their ORECA FLM09 ready to go for Friday qualifying after Tomy Drissi spun and made contact with the tire barriers at turn 10. Drissi suffered no injuries in the accident.

RSR Racing’s Bruno Junqueira, CORE autosport’s Braun, and Performance Tech Motorsports’ Conor Daly rounded out the first five on Saturday evening in PC.

Qualifying for the 63rd running of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida gets underway at 4:20 p.m. eastern time on Friday. Green flag on race day Saturday will fly at 10:40 a.m.

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About Matt Embury

Matt Embury is the Senior SportsCar Writer at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@MattEmbury) for the latest sports car news and opinions. A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, he has been following sports car racing for nearly 20 years.

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