Nissan-powered prototypes show good pace in two practice sessions at Sebring

Nissan-powered prototypes show good pace in two practice sessions at Sebring


SEBRING, Florida - Both the Muscle Milk - Pickett Racing Nissan ORECA and the OAK Racing Nissan Morgan looked to match the pace of the Daytona Prototypes in the first three practice sessions for the Sebring 12-hour on Thursday.  Alex Brundle had the second fastest lap of the first session for OAK racing with a very fast 1:52.86, but the car fell off that pace somewhat in the later sessions, managing only 10th best time in the afternoon and night practices.
The Muscle Milk- Pickett Racing Nissan-powered ORECA was more consistent, with Klaus Graf notching the third fastest lap in the afternoon session, sandwiched by fifth fastest in the morning and Lucas Luhr driving the seventh fastest in the night session. GT Academy Europe Champion Jann Mardenborough will be competing in his first race on American soil with teammates Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf.
"Sebring is one of the old-school circuits where if you make a mistake, there isn't tens of miles of runoff. There's grass and then there's tire barriers and concrete barriers as well," said the 22-year old Englishman. "It has surfaces and elements I’ve never seen before, so there is a lot to learn.  There's more than 60 cars entered for the race so I think it's going to be really busy and exciting."
The closed cockpit Daytona Prototype cars have led each of the three sessions on the challenging 3.74-mile Sebring track.  Tire wear will be a major factor in the race, as the concrete surface of the converted airfield has an abrasive effect on racing tires.


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Two Nissan-Powered prototypes grab top 10 finishes at rolex 24 at Daytona

Two Nissan-Powered prototypes grab top 10 finishes at rolex 24 at Daytona


DAYTONA, Fla. – Lucas Luhr, driver for Muscle Milk Racing, knows well that winning championships is a year-long marathon. Given that the toughest test of the year is the Rolex Daytona 24 at Daytona, he is happy with a hard-earned fifth place for his Nissan-powered Oreca team of Luhr, Klaus Graf and Alex Brundle. The Muscle Milk ORECA-Nissan car was first among the P2-type cars entered.


"I have to say that I'm proud of our guys. It's a brand new package, brand new car, it was the first 24-hour race for this team, and to finish it, it was a good thing," said the four-time ALMS champion. "The car ran mostly trouble free and we finished only three laps down after 24 hours, and that's impressive."


The team qualified sixth, fastest of the P2 cars and behind five Daytona Prototypes –cars well suited for the full throttle racing at a superspeedway course. The car ran suffered two punctured tires early, dropping them back to 40th position after an hour.
By hour six, the Muscle Milk Oreca-Nissan was back in the top ten, pushing into seventh by midnight. By daylight, the Pickett team was a top five car, behind only Daytona Prototypes. Through the morning, the team ran between sixth and fourth, and with just three hours left, Klaus Graf took the wheel in fifth. Graf could not make up the lap he trailed on the Corvette DP car in fourth, and he brought the car home safely – still running strong.
French entry OAK Racing's Morgan-Nissan ran in the top 10 for five hours until an alternator failed and dropped them all the way to 55th position overall as the car underwent work in the garage. By daylight the OAK Racing car driven by Pla/Yacaman/Rusinov/Webb was in 14th, picking off slower cars and making up laps. With three hours remaining, Gustavo Yacaman had the car up to 11th, knocking on the door of an overall top 10.
With a furious finish by Yacaman, the Morgan-Nissan came home eighth overall and sixth in class, garnering valuable points to move forward to tracks better suited for the P2-style race cars. OAK Racing plans to contest the full season TUDOR Championship.
"It has been a battle," said Pierre-Alain Bouhet, Team Manager for OAK Racing. "We were knocked back in qualifying by a (electronic) wiring loom issue, but we knew from practice we were one of the top six fastest cars.  Then the alternator failed in hour six, which put us almost on the bottom. It's been a real fight to get back where we did in the end, so I'm pleased with the effort."
The teams move on to the Sebring 12 Hours March 14-15, then the Long Beach Street Circuit April 12.
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