Scot Allan McNish, bidding to win this weekend’s 57th running of the 12-Hours of Sebring in Florida for the third time, topped the timesheets after the first official practice at the 3.7-mile circuit.
The 39-year-old from Dumfries partnered by Dane Tom Kristensen and Italian Dindo Capello, clocked a best lap of 1min 43.596secs, half a second quicker than Audi team-mates Marco Werner, Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller.
More importantly for the Scot, his diesel-powered Audi R15TDI was 1.406s clear of French pair Sebastien Bourdais and Stephane Sarrazin in the best of the evenly-matched Peugeots.
“The car feels more agile, it feels more reactive, especially at high speed and through Turn 1, which is a very bumpy corner, it’s more stable than our previous car, the R10 was,” McNish, driving the car for the first time in anger, said today.
“We’re actually going through there a gear higher. Performance-wise, what we’ve seen to date is that we’re a little bit ahead of Peugeot on short runs and also on long runs. But we’ll get a better feel as the week goes on.”
While McNish and Audi using the 12-hour Sebring race as a race-test ahead of their defence of the Le Mans 24-Hours in June, Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti is tackling the race ahead of his return to IndyCars.
The Scot, partnered by Aussie David Brabham and American Scott Sharp, was sixth-fastest in his Highcroft Acura clocking a best of 1:45.871s.
“We tried a few things on the car – some of which is working, some of which didn’t.
“The overall balance was off quite a bit this afternoon,” Franchitti, who won the LMP2 class in 2007, said. “We had a reasonable car at the endurance test but we are now trying to improve on that and trying different things.”
Testing continues tomorrow ahead of qualifying on Thursday before the race on Saturday.