12 Hours of Sebring kicks off talent-rich 2012 ALMS season

March 16th, 2012 by Staff

www.usatoday.com – SEBRING, Fla. – The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón kicks off its 2012 season this weekend with the 60th version of the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Race organizers were anticipating a crowd in excess of 150,000 and a grid of 64 cars for America’s oldest and most grueling sports-car race. The 3.74-mile circuit in central Florida not only welcomes the opening round of the ALMS but the debut of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Sebring represents the only WEC round in North America.

The ALMS brings 34 cars to the Sebring grid, including all five 2011 champions ready to defend their titles against the world’s best.

In the P1 class, defending ALMS champion Dyson Racing and championship runner-up Muscle Milk Pickett Racing go up against the mighty factory Audi squad and three of its Audi R18 diesel prototypes.

Once again, the GT class features a head-to-head battle of the biggest names in the automotive world. Last year’s Sebring winner and defending ALMS champion BMW Team RLL welcomes back American star Joey Hand to its lineup.

Hand and his teammates have a tall order to fill for a repeat Sebring win with seven Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs in the field, led by Flying Lizard Motorsports out of California and its own star power in Patrick Long and Andy Lally. Fan favorite Corvette Racing is out to earn its first Sebring win since 2009.

All ALMS GT teams could be chasing Ferraris from the WEC, including last year’s Sebring pole-sitter, AF Corse.

Partnering with AF Corse in the GTC Am category, two-time Daytona 500 winner and Fox announcer Michael Waltrip will race in his first 12 Hours of Sebring behind the wheel of a Ferrari F458 Italia.

P2 welcomes a wealth of new ALMS talent in the form of Black Swan Racing and former IndyCar team Conquest Racing, but the two entries from defending champion Level 5 Motorsports have been strongest in practice.

In PC, all eyes are on CORE autosport to see if the addition of NASCAR hot shot Colin Braun will help the team score its second championship in as many seasons with ALMS.

The 12 Hours of Sebring begins at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday and will be carried live on ESPN3.com. (Live timing, radio and in-car cameras are available on ALMS.com.)

The race will air at Noon ET Sunday on ABC.

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