Sebring 12H: Derani takes pole, team-mate Johnson crashes

Three-time Sebring 12 Hours winner Pipo Derani took pole for Action Express Racing for the 2021 race, but the session ended early when Jimmie Johnson crashed the second AXR Cadillac.

#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway

Wayne Taylor Racing Acura driver Ricky Taylor was the first driver to get under the 1m46s barrier, and he did it comprehensively with a 1m45.571s.

Then the Whelen Engineering AXR Cadillac of Derani, which had set the pace throughout Thursday’s practice sessions, moved to the top by 0.152 seconds.

Renger van der Zande’s attempts to respond were hurt by encountering an LMP2 car through the final turn on one of his flyers in the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, but he had got within half a second of top spot when the red flag flew.

Johnson in the #48 Ally AXR Cadillac had impressively lowered his deficit to Derani to just 1.2s around the 3.74-mile 17-turn course, when he had a spin at Turn 16.

Desperately trying to get a good run through Turn 17 to start another lap, however, he lost it under braking, the car revolved and backed hard into the tyre barrier, bringing out the red and thereby costing him his two best laps.

Johnson stepped from the wrecked DPi-V.R unaided.

Fourth went to the sole Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis, while Olivier Pla in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura was 1s away from pole, but did just enough to edge Loic Duval’s best effort in the JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac.

LMP2 was all about Ben Keating in the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports entry vs WIN Autosport’s Steven Thomas, and it was the WIN driver who won the battle by 0.123s.

A couple of Road To Indy open-wheel stars – one current, one former – lit up the timing screens during the session for the smallest LMP3 prototypes.

Rasmus Lindh, 2019 Indy Pro 2000 runner-up, appeared to have an easier ride in the Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320 as he set a 1m56.001s but some extraordinary bravery from 2019 Indy Lights champion (and 2020 IndyCar driver) Oliver Askew drew the bucking and bouncing Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine car to within 0.065s of the 19-year-old Swede.

#3: Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R, GTLM: Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg

#3: Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R, GTLM: Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

A battle of hundredths and thousandths between the two Corvette C8.Rs in the GT Le Mans class of Antonio Garcia and Tommy Milner was resolved in the Spanish driver’s favour by 0.034s, although both ducked under the 1m55s barrier and took around half a second off Garcia’s pole from last year.

Despite their best efforts, however, they only pulled 0.15s clear of an excellent lap by Connor De Phillippi in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan-run #25 BMW M8, who was a couple of tenths clear of team-mate Jesse Krohn.

Tim Zimmermann in the Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan and Jan Heylen in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R had an exciting duel for the GT Daytona class pole, until on his final lap Heylen – last year’s pole winner – backed off after being edged by the German Lambo driver by 0.067s.

Previous article Tandy: New Corvette C8.R "tough", good on Sebring bumps
Next article Van der Zande slams "too wild" Derani after Sebring 12H clash