THE 60TH MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING FUELED BY FRESH FROM FLORIDA
MARCH 14-17, 2012. GET TICKETS AT SEBRINGRACEWAY.COM OR 800-626-RACE
WEC LAUNCHES AT SEBRING 60
Sebring’s been through many eras and iterations of sports
car racing, but the 60th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours
of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida represents a rebirth.
Some 40 years after the World Sportscar Championship last
raced at the former B- 17 training base, the new FIA World
Endurance Championship launches here in 2012.
The last FIA World Sportscar Championship ended in
1992, and the last WSC to make it to Sebring was in ’ 72,
with a win for Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx in a Ferrari 312.
ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton described his
expectations for the event as bold, but simple: “What we
envision for what this
event means can be
summed up in a single
sentence. This will be
the largest, most
sports car race in
the history of the
United States of
It sounds grandiose, but considering Atherton’s points
that the race should feature a record fan turnout, a huge
international media contingent, and the largest field since
ALMS first ran at Sebring in 1999, it isn’t terribly far-fetched.
The bulk of the extra entries come from the 30 cars
running in the WEC ranks. Audi (ABOVE) stands alone for this
race as the only manufacturer entry in P1, with Peugeot’s
shock pullout a significant blow, at least in the short term.
Toyota saved some face for the prime mover behind the
WEC, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest by entering the full
season, but it won’t debut until Spa-Francorchamps in May.
The rest of the field features a strong number of privateers
in P1 and the cost-capped P2 divisions, with 18 prototypes
in total. The GT grid is smaller, with only 12 combined entries
from Ferrari (BELOW), Porsche, Corvette and Aston Martin
split between GTE
Pro and Am.
This marks the first
race in the new world
will visit established
locations at Sebring, Le
Mans and ex-European
LMS rounds at Spa and
and keeping the interest in its newish markets – Brazil,
China, Japan and Bahrain (if it happens) – is a goal for the
series, as well as ensuring the races aren’t Audi benefits.
Meanwhile, the ALMS begins its 14th year with a strong
overall car count, but again short on the marquee prototypes.
Given that its GT class is still going strong, the ALMS should
remain on offense in keeping its current manufacturers
satisfied with its direction, and perhaps look at the global GT
landscape to see the popular platforms and possible
contingency plans if manufacturers opt for the WEC first.
But for now, it’s just about focusing on the 60th
anniversary of this race. Everything’s been done to ensure it
will go off without a hitch, as IMSA and ALMS welcomes the
world. Now, it has to go off in the style Atherton expects.
(MAIN) Rule changes make the 2012 ’Vette a little wider, but the team has adapted in its usual thorough way. (BELOW) The Pickett Racing crew gets familiar with its new car.
comes with a caveat – Audi didn’t race in
Florida in 2010 and, last year, it brought
a previous-year car to the party, with the
final run of its open-top R15 “Plus Plus”
TDI. Fry isn’t saying Muscle Milk will
beat Audi but, given the unpredictable
nature of the race, he knows that it’s
not out of the question.
“Audi’s expected to win and it’s very
di;cult to beat them,” Fry admits. “But
when you start up front, which presumably
they will, it’s more di;cult to stay there.
They have to cover what everyone else is
doing as well as their own cars.”
That marks the di;erence in this
race versus how Muscle Milk will
approach the rest of the 2012 ALMS
season. Here, with nine extra WEC cars,
there’s almost a dozen P1 prototypes. The
rest of the year, the team likely will face
just two or three opponents in class.
“With a smaller field, you can focus on
just, ‘What are they doing?’” Fry explains.
“With a bigger field, you have to watch
what everybody does, and someone might
utilize a strategy you haven’t covered.”
Corvette’s GT strategy, by contrast, is
simple: run hard, run fast and the result
will take care of itself. Unfortunately,
so far the result hasn’t been a win at
Sebring since the team introduced its
GT2-spec C6.R halfway through 2009.
In 2010, its two cars ignominiously
collided in the pits en route to eighth and
ninth. Last year, one car got caught up in
an early tangle with Patrick Long in his
Flying Lizard Porsche, but the ’Vettes
still ended third and fourth. It isn’t
necessarily “win-or-bust,” but Corvette
“When the green flag
drops, you hammer
that bad boy as
hard as you can”
Racing program manager Doug Fehan is
under no false illusions that this year’s
Sebring isn’t especially important.
“It has a huge impact from a media
and marketing standpoint, and it pretty
much is your harbinger for how well
you’ll do for the rest of the season,” he
says. “This is just where you can see
what the competition is really doing. It’s
looked at globally, not just in the U.S.
“When the green flag drops, you
hammer that bad boy as hard as you can,
every single lap,” he adds. “If you don’t,
you can be sure the next guy will be.”