Robichon Keeps Wright Motorsports Porsche at Head of GTD Field
March 18, 2022
By John Oreovicz & Holly Cain
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – As time expired in Friday’s 15-minute GT qualifying session for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, TR3 Racing was confident Mirko Bortolotti’s lap in the No. 63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 would secure the Motul Pole Award in the GTD PRO class.
But the top starting spot for Saturday’s 70th running of the iconic race was snatched at the last gasp by a different Italian marque. Daniel Serra sped around Sebring International Raceway’s bumpy airfield-based road course in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE at a brisk 1 minute, 59.414 seconds (112.750 mph) to nip Bortolotti by 0.017 seconds to sweep away the pole position.
In a session limited to a precious few full-speed laps due to a red flag for a car stopped on course, Serra earned his sixth career pole in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, all achieved in GT3-platform Ferraris. One of those previous poles also came at Sebring in 2018.
Serra teamed with Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Davide Rigon to take second place in GTD PRO at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. At Sebring, he is joined by Rigon and Edward Cheever, the 28-year-old son of former Formula 1 and IndyCar driver Eddie Cheever.
“The car was super great and I’m really happy with the team,” Serra said. “In qualifying, we had a red flag that complicated it a little bit, but it was the same for everyone.
“It’s really nice to do the qualifying in Sebring,” he added. “To put the car on the limit on the bumps, the feeling for the driver is always really, really nice. I’m happy to do a pole position here.”
Making the accomplishment more special for Serra and the team was the presence at Sebring of team founder Giuseppe Risi.
“Having him here is even better as well, isn’t it?” exclaimed Serra. “Giuseppe is really passionate for racing, and it’s nice to see how much he enjoys it here.”
Corvette Racing responded well to its difficult GTD PRO debut at Daytona, with Jordan Taylor slotting the No. 3 Corvette C8.R GTD third on the grid, alongside Alex Riberas in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The green flag for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is set to wave at 10:10 a.m. ET Saturday. Live streaming coverage begins on Peacock at 10 a.m., with USA joining the coverage on TV at 3:30 p.m. IMSA Radio’s broadcast begins at 9:45 a.m. on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Robichon Keeps No. 16 Porsche Revving with GTD Pole
Canadian driver Zacharie Robichon ensured his Wright Motorsports team would start Saturday’s race in exactly the place it finished the most recent race of the 2022 season: out front.
Robichon won the Motul Pole Award in the GT Daytona (GTD) class at the famed 3.74-mile track, turning a fast lap of 1:59.763 (112.421 mph) in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. It bettered by just 0.025 seconds the lap turned in by Robby Foley in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3.
Robichon, Ryan Hardwick, Jan Heylen and Richard Lietz took the No. 16 to the GTD victory at the Rolex 24 in January. All but Lietz return this weekend. Robichon earned the Sebring pole in the closing seconds of Friday’s session, coming on what he called his only clean lap following the red-flag stoppage. It was barely enough to claim his fourth career pole and earn the right to lead the 17-car GTD class to the green flag.
“That’s pretty awesome,’’ said Robichon, the defending GTD Sebring winner when he drove in 2021 for Pfaff Motorsports. He’s set to drive for Wright this year in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races. “After I got the pole at Daytona (in 2020 with Pfaff), it took me two years after to win. It looks like (at) Sebring I did the opposite. I was able to win last year and then finally able to figure out qualifying this year.
“I’m super proud of the team, the 1st Phorm Wright guys. I’ve been saying it for two races now, they welcomed me like family. And in qualifying today, they were so relaxed. For those that know me, they know I’m a pretty relaxed guy so it works perfect for me. No stress. And that’s usually when we do our best.’’
“These long races, to be honest, we’re aware qualifying is probably not that important. Last year, we started last and won the race,’’ Robichon said.
Russell Ward was third fastest in GTD qualifying with a lap of 1:59.848 in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, but the car was found out of minimum ride height compliance in post-qualifying inspection and moved to the rear of the class. That moved Madison Snow and the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3, making their season debut, to third on the GTD grid.