Friday practice for the 65th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring was held under beautiful blue skies. This was my first race for 2017, and was very excited to be here for this classic sports car endurance race. Hope you like the photos.
Was originally scheduled to fly from Boston to Tampa early Wednesday morning. However, the flight was delayed to late Thursday night due to a Northeaster snow storm that hit Boston and other northeast regions. Despite the delay, was happy I was able to re-book my flight to Tampa. When I was waiting for my flight in Boston saw a really cool retro livery on a JetBlue plane.
Arrived at Tampa International Airport around 11.30 pm, then drove about 1 hour to Bartow where I would be staying for the next few days. When I got to the hotel, I organized my camera gear for the next day. For this photo shoot I brought three Canon 5D Mark III cameras; a 500mm f/4L II, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, 85mm f/1.2L, and 35mm f/1.4L II lenses. Other things included a monopod, 1.4x extender III, Speedlite, PL and ND filters, memory cards, batteries, laptop, loupe etc. Also, brought plenty of Mentos candy and Muesli bars for keeping my energy up at the track. By the time I got to sleep it was around 1.30 am Friday morning.
Got up Friday morning around 5.30 am and grabbed some fast food breakfast to eat on my drive to Sebring International Raceway, which was about 1 hour away. Sebring International Raceway is situated on a former WWII Army Airfield and is adjacent to Sebring Regional Airport. The track is about 3.7 miles long and consists of 17 turns on a bumpy and challenging track surface. When I arrived at the track I picked up my media credentials, then drove to Gate 4 and parked in the Ulmann parking lot, where I took a shuttle to the Media Trailer in the paddock area behind the front straight grandstands.
After attending the 8.30 am photo meeting, picked up my photo vest, and headed to the track for the 9.20 am WeatherTech Sportscar Championship (WTSCC) practice session. For this session my strategy was to start on drivers right in pit lane, then make my way to Turn 1 for different shots of this part of the track. It was also an good opportunity to get back “into the swing” of things since its been a few months since I last shot a car race. By the time I got to pit lane, the cars were lined up for the practice session.
Really liked the new livery on the #911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR being driven by Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, or Frederic Makowiecki.
Also like the design of the new Prototype class cars. Here’s the #22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi being driven by Ed Brown, Brendon Hartley, Johannes van Overbeek, or Bruno Senna.
The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier with Michael Guasch, Jose Gutierrez, or Tom Kimber-Smith leads a field of cars from pit lane.
The #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi with Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, or Filipe Albuquerque was fastest in practice with a time of 1m49.211s.
The #23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 with Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, or Frank Montecalvo.
The #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 driven by Justin Marks, Jens Klingmann, or Jesse Krohn hits the track under beautiful cloudy blue skies.
The famous front straight and Mobil 1 Bridge at Sebring International Raceway.
On the front straight with the new #93 Michael Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 with Andy Lally, Katherine Legge, or Mark Wilkins. Really sharp looking sportscar.
Down the long front straight with the #911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR and the new #14 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3.
For me this is Sebring. The rough pavement lined with the white concrete safety barriers and rust covered steel fences. The #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA with Chris Miller, Stephen Simpson, or Misha Goikhberg speeding around Turn 1.
Through Turn 1 with the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 and Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, or Matteo Cressoni.
The #23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 with Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, or Frank Montecalvo about to speed past the iconic Audi Sports hospitality building at Turn 1.
Speeding past some safety marshals was the #55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi and Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito, or Spencer Pigot.
At the end of the practice session the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE with Toni Vilander, James Calado, or Giancarlo Fisichella needed a tow back to the paddock.
Getting a ride back to their team trailer were Cedric Sbirrazzuoli and Paolo Ruberti, drivers of the #27 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
Was good to have a practice session “under my belt” since it was an opportunity to get myself back into the rhythm of taking motorsport photos again. After the practice session headed back to the media center to edit and upload photos to my client since I had about an hour until the drivers autographs sessions started.
The drivers autograph session started at 11.45 am at the Team Transporter area of the paddock. This is a great opportunity for the fans to meet their favorite drivers.
The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT drivers are always popular with fans collecting autographs.
IndyCar star Scott Dixon, was one of the drivers of the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT.
Former Formula One driver Giancarlo Fisichella was one of the drivers for the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.
Christina Nielsen, one of the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 drivers, was very popular with fans for signing autographs.
#14 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3 driver Scott Pruett, shaking hands with a fan.
#4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R drivers Tommy Milner (top), Oliver Gavin (middle), and Antonio Garcia (bottom).
Katherine Legge, one of the #93 Michael Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 drivers.
Fans brought all types of objects for signing by drivers, including a “shark”.
#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM driver Kuno Wittmer.
Qualifying for the WeatherTech Championship started at 1.00 pm with GTD on track first, followed by GTLM, PC, then P classes. Each class had 15 minutes for qualifying. For this session went to the pits for driver and team shots. The #23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 ready for the session to start.
Really liked the livery on the #93 Michael Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3.
Waiting to enter pit lane was the GTLM class #4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. Thanks to the photographer who told me about this photo opportunity.
Next up for qualifying were the GTLM class. The #25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM and Alexander Sims getting ready for this session.
The #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT had the fastest time of 1m55.939s for GTLM class.
The final qualifying session was for the P Class. #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier in pit lane.
The #55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi team were practicing driver changes.
This was a great opportunity to get some shots of the drivers on the pit wall. Tristan Nunez and Spencer Pigot (top), Tristan Nunez (center), and Jonathan Bomarito (lower).
The #70 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi being readied for qualifying.
The #13 Rebellion Racing ORECA with Neel Jani captured pole position for the P class with a time of 1m48.178s.
After the session ended went back to the media center to edit and upload photos to my client. Left the track around 5.00 pm. Looking forward to a good nights rest in preparation for Saturday’s race, which will be an endurance for all. Thanks for reading my blog from last Friday at Sebring.
2 thoughts on “2017 – Practice, Drivers, and Qualifying for the 12 Hours of Sebring (Mar 17)”
Well done David. It was great seeing you again.
Thanks Rusty. Was great seeing you as well. Hope to catch up with you later in the year