Scot Allan McNish, bidding to win the Sebring 12-Hours race for the third time, will start tomorrrow’s race from second on the grid after being pipped to pole position by just 0.082 seconds.
The 39-year-old from Dumfries, partnered in his Audi R15TDI by Dane Tom Kristensen and Italian Dindo Capello, missed out in the final seconds of qualifying when American Scott Dixon’s Acura lapped the 3.7-mile Florida track in 1min 45.278secs.
“Obviously it’s disappointing not to have pole position,” McNish admitted, “because it’s always nice to have on the CV. But what’s more important is winning the race and that’s what we’re concentrating on.
“We know it’s going to be tough because I would say this is the strongest field ever assembled at Sebring. There are quite a few cars capable of winning but we have to make sure we’re out in front when the chequered flag falls.”
The Sebring 12-Hour race marks the debut of Audi’s all-new diesel-powered R15TDI, the successor to the all-conquering R10TDI which McNish powered to victory in last year’s Le Mans 24-Hours.
Behind the Scot, the two Peugeot 908s of Christian Klien and Sebastien Bourdais line up third and fifth sandwiching the second Audi of Mike Rockenfeller in fourth.
Both the Franchitti brothers start the race in the top 10 with former Indy500 winner and IndyCar champ Dario qualifying his Highcroft Acura in sixth.
“The qualifying result wasn’t exactly what we hoped for,” 35-year-old Franchitti, partnered by American Scott Sharp and Aussie David Brabham, admitted, “but I think it has been a great day for the team. We just seemed to hit traffic at all the wrong times in qualifying.”
Younger brother Marino, meanwhile, qualified 10th overall. More importantly the 29-year-old, second last year, lines his Dyson Lola-Mazda up third in the LMP2 class
“Considering we’re still developing the car and we’ve had limited track time tis week, we’re content with where we are,” Franchitti admitted. “We’re in the race and we know the car will be reliable. I’m confident we can get a good result.”