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TUSCC: Pla Puts Krohn Racing On Pole For Sebring 12 Hours

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The Friday afternoon qualifying session for the 63rd running of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida proved yet again that the LMP-2 eligible cars in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship are fast over a single lap, however can they hold their ground over the course of a long race against the Daytona Prototypes?

While the LMP-2 runners contemplate that question in advance of Saturday”s 10:40 a.m. eastern time green flag, they can celebrate the fact that three of their type of cars claimed spots on the first two rows of the starting grid. After topping the timing chart in the final two sessions on Thursday and in the final practice session on Friday morning, Olivier Pla completed the sweep of the proceedings by placing the lime green and blue liveried Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2-Judd coupe on pole with an impressive 1 minute, 51.152 second pass of the 3.7 mile Sebring International Raceway circuit. With his first career TOTAL Pole Award now in hand, Pla enters Saturday’s enduro looking for his second career TUSCC victory, having paired with Gustavo Yacaman and OAK Racing to take the win last year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. As for his Sebring co-drivers Nic Jonsson and team owner Tracy Krohn, who are participating in the prototype ranks here for the first time, the team nearly pulled off an upset win last year in the GT Le Mans division, settling for a third place result with a Ferrari 458 Italia.

Starting alongside Krohn Racing on the front row is a second LMP-2, but a surprise of sorts in this case. After struggling for pace throughout the four previous practice sessions, Extreme Speed Motorsports’ lead driver Ryan Dalziel was able to find his magic qualifying touch from last season in the TUSCC, placing the No. 1 Honda ARX-03b in the number two starting spot. Dalziel and team owner Scott Sharp are looking to improve one spot from last year’s Sebring effort when they settled for runner-up honors. The Tequila Patron-backed entry features a new third driver this time around in the form of David Heinemeier Hansson.

Action Express Racing, who topped the charts in the first testing session on Thursday morning, was the best among the Daytona Prototypes and thanks to the efforts of Joao Barbosa, will start third, the exact finishing position for the team of Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, and Sebastien Bourdais one year ago at Sebring. The team’s Chevrolet Corvette DP is one of four that will be on the starting grid on Saturday morning. Rounding out the second row werethe pole winners from the Rolex 24 at Daytona two months ago, Michael Shank Racing’s Ligier-Honda coupe. Only one second separated MSR’s Oswaldo Negri, Jr. from the polesitter Olivier Pla on Friday.

Among other Prototype class notables, 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona and reigning Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring champions Chip Ganassi Racing will start ninth on Saturday as Joey Hand was unable to improve from a lack of pace from the team’s Ford EcoBoost-Riley DP. Also struggling for pace so far this weekend has been DeltaWing Racing Cars’ unusually designed DWC13 coupe with Elan power. After qualifying in the top five at Daytona, Memo Rojas could do no better than tenth fastest on Friday.

In Prototype Challenge, Martin Plowman claimed his first career TOTAL Pole Award as he placed the No. 16 BAR 1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 on top of the list at 1:55.257. The effort was just enough to edge CORE autosport’s Colin Braun for class honors, as the American missed the pole by seven hundredths of a second. Both teams are looking to bounce back from lackluster starts to the 2015 TUSCC campaign. BAR 1 was excluded from the final results at Daytona after exceeding the maximum driving time that the team’s professional drivers could be in the car as opposed to their semi-pro/amateurs, while CORE autosport finished second at Daytona, but gave away the win after Braun crashed the No. 54 during the final 30 minutes of the race. Tom Kimber-Smith placed Daytona PC winners PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports third on the PC grid, with American GP2 veteran Conor Daly qualifying fourth for Performance Tech Motorsports in his first TUSCC appearance in fourteen months.

Stay tuned to @RubbingsRacing and @MattEmbury on Twitter for all the action in the Prototype and Prototype Challenge division during Saturday’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled By Fresh From Florida.

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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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