Excellent Overall Result for Pirelli in the 12 Hours of Sebring
Sebring (USA), 19 March 2006 - Victory in the GT2 category with the Panoz Esperante driven by Bourdais-Brabham-Maxwell, deftly ahead of a Porsche 996 GT3-RSR and a Ferrari 430 GTC, and second and third places in GT1 with the Aston Martin DBR9s of Sarrazin-Lamy-Bright and Turner-Enge-Kiesa are the positive results with which Pirelli Competizioni will return home from the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring. Extremely fast from qualifying onwards, the Panoz on Pirelli P Zero Racing tyres battled with the Ferrari and the Porsche for almost the entire Florida marathon. But in the finale, the American coup poured on the speed, fighting until the end against the Porsche of Lieb-Van Overbeek-Fogarty. The Ferrari lost a little of its lustre towards the close of the race, after having been a real threat for 10 of the event's 12 hours. In GT1, the top category, Pedro Lamy set the fastest time in practice - a new record for the American circuit. But in the race, the Aston Martins were overtaken by the Corvette C6R of Gavin-Beretta-Magnussen, a car that revealed itself to be decidedly more consistent than in qualifying and with a more incisive rhythm in the early stages of the race. It was that acceleration in the first few hours at Sebring that decided the result, without taking into account the fact that the Aston Martins on Pirelli suffered much more than the yellow American coup from the intense heat of the early afternoon. But the situation improved notably in the closing hours as a result of the lower ambient temperature, which permitted the Aston-Pirellis to also set the race's fastest lap. Pierluigi De Cancellis, Circuit Manager of Pirelli Competizioni, said this about the 54th 12 Hours of Sebring, "The overall result of this American marathon should be considered positive, because Pirelli took the pole position and put the two Aston Martins on the podium in the GT1 class after hardly ever having practiced previously in race conditions. The extreme heat typical of Sebring at this time of the year and the mix of exceedingly uneven, slippery asphalt and cement certainly did not help us. But the Panoz gave us a magnificent victory, which is worth its weight in gold, especially considering that we got the better of the fearsome Ferrari 430 GTC and one of the most effective Porsche 996 GT3-RSRs currently racing in the United States. So the result is a good omen for the start of the European season on 7 May at Silverstone". Final classification, GT1 Class: 1 Magnussen-Beretta-Gavin (Corvette C6R), 12h03'+8''938; 2 Lamy-Sarrazin-Bright (Aston Martin DBR9), +1 lap; 3 Turner-Kiesa-Enge (Aston Martin DBR9), +14 laps. Final classification, GT2 Class: 1 Bourdais-Brabham-Maxwell (Panoz Esperante), 12h02'24''763; 2 Lieb-Van Overbeek-Fogarty (Porsche 996 GT3-RSR), +5''365; 3 Lazzaro-Kelleners-Melo (Ferrari F430 GT), +49''013.