Pla leads polesitters at Sebring

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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SEBRING, Fla. – Not even 24 hours ago, the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda was in pieces after a sizable and odd accident for John Pew during Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida night practice.

Just after 5 p.m. ET on Friday, the repaired car with three of the four quarters replaced following a Herculean effort by the Shank crew, Olivier Pla has repaid them with the pole position and a best time of 1:51.217.

Other class polesitters include Colin Braun (PC), Bill Auberlen (GTLM) and Jeff Segal (GTD).

P 

The Prototype qualifying session saw the LMP2-spec cars emerge ahead after Action Express Racing had dominated practice, with both of its Nos. 5 and 31 Corvette DPs having led all four sessions.

Pla, who also won last year’s pole in a similar Ligier JS P2 chassis albeit with a Judd engine at Krohn Racing, then proceeded to lay down a series of fliers.

His ultimate best time of 1:51.217 was off slightly compared to his 2015 time of 1:51.152, but no less impressive given it was a repaired car.

Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani, in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier Honda that won the Rolex 24 at Daytona, came up just shy at 1:51.391.

Action Express’ two cars line up third and fourth with Dane Cameron in the No. 31 car ahead of Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 car.

Mazda impressed, with Tristan Nunez taking the No. 55 Mazda Prototype completing the top five.

PC

CORE autosport continued its weekend dominance in the new-look Prototype Challenge class, as after it led all four practice sessions it also took the pole position courtesy of a flier from Colin Braun in the team’s No. 54 Oreca FLM09.

Braun set a best time of 1:54.910, which was nearly a second clear of Tom Kimber-Smith in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry.

It’s Braun’s first pole since Indianapolis in 2014, and the first for the team since Jon Bennett started from pole following the qualifying rainout at Watkins Glen last year.

GTLM 

Bill Auberlen and John Edwards led a BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM 1-2 in GT Le Mans qualifying, with Auberlen scoring the first pole for the new GTLM variant of the new M6.

Auberlen set a new track record of 1:58.402 in the No. 25 BMW, with Edwards slightly in arrears at 1:58.592 in the No. 100 BMW.

Porsche had won the previous six pole positions in class dating to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last year. Corvette Racing started on pole at Watkins Glen International when qualifying was rained out; the last qualifying session led by a car other than Porsche was at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last May, when Dirk Werner scored the pole in the team’s BMW Z4 GTLM.

Auberlen seeks an elusive first victory at Sebring, where he’s been close but no cigar for years. He’ll co-drive with Werner and Bruno Spengler; Edwards shares the No. 100 BMW with Lucas Luhr and Kuno Wittmer.

Scuderia Corsa’s Daniel Serra nearly completed a pole sweep for the Giacomo Mattioli-owned team in the team’s GTLM Ferrari 488 GTE. He ended third.

The best Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT and Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R ended fourth and fifth, respectively.

GTD

Jeff Segal secured the first worldwide pole for the debuting Ferrari 488 GT3, in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa entry he shares with Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan.

Segal set a track record of 2:02.350, which edged Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R at 2:02.386. Bleekemolen held the previous track record of 2:03.485, set last year.

Ferrari’s 488 got a pole in the Australian GT race in Melbourne this weekend, but got bounced in tech for an infringement – more here from Speedcafe.

Behind the top two, Jens Klingmann took the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 into third with the pair of Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Rs fourth and fifth. The No. 23 The Heart of Racing car ended ahead of the WeatherTech-backed No. 22 car.

The best of six Lamborghini Huracán GT3s was Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 16 Change Racing entry in eighth; NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell qualified the sister No. 11 Change car 12th of the 20 cars in class.

Qualifying Results

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston

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Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart


The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s