Ashton Harrison's Acura on pole for 12H of Sebring
Ashton Harrison's #93 Harrison Contracting Acura NSX GT3 secured pole position for the upcoming IMSA 12 Hour of Sebring, as Kyle Marcelli topped the GTD qualifying.
After Iron Dames' pole position in the WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring, another team featuring a female driver will start on class pole in the IMSA 12H of Sebring: the #93 Harrison Contracting Acura NSX GT3 Evo 22 driven by Kyle Marcelli, Ashton Harrison and Danny Formal will start from the top spot in GTD tomorrow at the start of the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech series.
After their sixth place finish at Daytona - at Harrison's first participation in the iconic race and only her second start in IMSA - the Racers Edge Motorsports trio had proved to have pace for the top three in GTD, having just missed out on a podium after a late issue.
That pace, though, was carried onto Sebring and the drivers of the #93 Acura were soon among the protagonists of the opening practice sessions.
The race is also particularly important for the team that celebrates the one-year anniversary of the debut of the #93 Harrison Contracting entry in the IMSA series: at her first ever start in the North American premier sports car championship, Harrison earned a top-10 finish in the GTD Pro class.
"It’s so special to me to have another attempt at this race, since this was my IMSA WeatherTech Championship debut last year", said Harrison. "I feel like we really did well last year as our first race together with this whole group."
"Kyle and I are ready for redemption to push for better results and we’ve learned that much more and are even more prepared. I’m excited to have Danny on board. We have developed some great chemistry and have the same mindset and are definitely ready to get on that podium."
In the first practice, Harrison, Formal and Marcelli were second fastest in class, less than a tenth adrift the leading Wright Motorsports Porsche. A fourth and fifth place in the following sessions again hinted that the #93 Acura will be a strong contender for the GTD front-running positions in the race, despite several red flags interrupting the night practice and limited track time.
Kyle Marcelli took the helm of the red NSX for qualifying and the Canadian sealed a spectacular pole position in GTD, ahead of Philip Ellis (Winward Racing #57/Mercedes) and Mikael Grenier (Team Korthoff Motorsports #32 /Mercedes), as Marcelli was also fourth fastest among all the GTD-Pro entries.
An accident in the closing minutes involving the #9 Pfaff Motorsport Porsche of Klaus Bachler interrupted the session - which was not resumed and therefore Marcelli, Harrison and Formal could finally celebrate their achievement.
The #66 Gradient Racing Acura of Sheena Monk, Katherine Legge and Marc Miller also showed promising speed in practice, slotting into ninth place in FP1.
In the hands of GT3 rookie Sheena Monk - who had an outstanding debut at Daytona, where she ran in the top-ten in her first ever race since stepping up from GT4 machinery - the Gradient Racing Acura will line up in P18 at Sebring.
Still at the beginning of their adaptation process to the new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2, Iron Dames had good improvements from Daytona and Rahel Frey qualified the pink #83 Lambo in P12 in class.
It will be a very busy weekend for Frey, Gatting and Bovy, who will race in both the WEC and IMSA races back to back - and with two different car brands, requiring very different driving styles.
The green flag for the 71st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will wave on Saturday 10:10 a.m. EDT.
Additional reporting: Luca Pellegrini