FIA World Endurance Championship Rnd 1 - Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring - 17 March 2012
Next weekend's 60th running of the Mobil 1, 12-Hours of Sebring sees JRM Racing embark on a brand new challenge, when it begins its assault on the FIA World Endurance Championship. The team enters the first season of this major global sportscar series as reigning FIA GT1 World Champions, having won the Drivers' title in 2011.
Armed with one of the most competitive LMP1 cars available, the Honda Performance Development ARX-03a, JRM Racing goes into the new season at the top-level of sportscar racing and will be up against the works teams challenging for overall honours. And, as well as acquiring a car that has the potential to win, JRM Racing has recruited three equally capable drivers: David Brabham, Karun Chandhok and Peter Dumbreck.
Having driven for JRM Racing's sister team Sumo Power GT last year, Brabham's association with the JR Motorsports Group continues for a second season and he brings with him a sportscar and endurance-racing heritage that spans 20 years. As well as F1, his experience includes seasons in Japanese GTC, ALMS and the European Le Mans Series, plus outright victory in the Le Mans 24-hours in 2009. Significantly, he was involved with the early development of the HPD prototype and is therefore delighted to be reunited with this type of car.
Following his F1 appearances with Team Lotus in 2011, Chandhok has firmly established himself as a world-class competitor and the team is delighted to have him on board for his first ever season of sportscar racing. Now based in the UK, his results make him India's most successful racing driver and consequently, he possesses a CV that records three championship victories coupled with race-winning seasons in British Formula 3, A1 GP and GP2.
Also possessing an illustrious history of sportscar and endurance racing, having been a former works driver at top level, Dumbreck famously contested the Le Mans 24-hours in 1999 with Mercedes. He then went on to compete in the FIA GT Championship, DTM, Japanese Super GT and the Le Mans Series. He joins JRM's WEC team after a two-year spell with the JR Motorsports Group, having driven one of its GT1 cars in 2010 and 2011.
The new HPD ARX-03a arrived at the team's technical facility in Rye 10-days before it was due to be shipped to Florida and, with the time spent building and preparing the car in readiness for its first race, the three drivers will get their first taste behind the wheel at Sebring. Therefore, the team aims to make the most of the pre-event test sessions that take place on Monday and Tuesday, plus the three practice sessions on Thursday - two in daylight and the other in darkness.
As well as hosting the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Mobil 1 12 hours of Sebring is also the first event in the American Le Mans Series calendar. Therefore, in addition to the WEC entry of 30 cars - nine of them running in the LMP1 class - there will be a total of 64 cars on the grid next weekend.
The first 12 Hours of Sebring was held on 15th March 1952 on the converted Hendricks Field World War II air base. Since then the circuit has been updated twice and, although still featuring parts of the two runways that initially made up the track, the current configuration provides a lap distance of 3.74 miles.
This season's competitive action gets underway at 16.10 on Friday with a 75-minute qualifying session. Then, following a 25-minute warm-up at 08.00 on Saturday, the first race of the year gets the green light at 10.30 and the chequered flag at 22.30.
JRM-Racing's 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship campaign is supported by Michelin.
David Brabham"I saw the car for the first time last week and, although there are a few detail changes, it is very similar to the one I came second in at Sebring last year. It would be great to have a podium result this time but, being our first event with the new car, we may need a bit of luck to do it. The team is working overtime to get everything in place for next weekend and I'm encouraged by what's been achieved so far. We are going to be taking a great deal of information away with us from Sebring, so things are bound to get stronger as the year progresses."
Karun Chandhok"For me, this will be my first time competing in a Le Mans Prototype and it's a very interesting challenge. There is a real mentality shift for me this year in terms of having to share a car with other drivers. When you're racing in single-seaters, you may be part of a team but you need to be a bit selfish. But this year, my success also depends on the success of my team mates."
I'm very excited about the season ahead and, after a year of not racing full time, I'm starting to get 'that feeling' again. It's so important for a driver's motivation to be excited and constantly challenged and I certainly feel this is going to be the case this year!"
Peter Dumbreck"During the winter I have been training very hard, so from the fitness point of view I know I'm in good shape. Even so, it's a big challenge to prepare for a 12-hour race with a brand new car. I think it will be important to take it step-by step-to build up through the test days so we are all comfortable when race day arrives."
I have no experience of Sebring, so it's going to be a real baptism of fire. Therefore, the season can only get easier, as I have raced at most of the other tracks and, if we can complete the full race-distance next weekend, we'll all know the car a lot better going into the next round."
Nigel Stepney (Team Manager and Head of Engineering)"Even as Champions, going from where we were last year to the WEC with an LMP1 car is huge step. And, to have the 12 Hours of Sebring as our first event certainly adds to the challenge."
The team has worked very hard in the past few weeks to prepare for what we have ahead of us. It has been - and I'm sure will continue to be for the next few months - a steep learning curve. But, as history has shown, we like a challenge and I'm confident that we'll rise to it."
James Rumsey (Team Principal)"After two successful years campaigning GT1 cars in one-hour races, this is our first full-season of endurance racing. It's great to start the year with a world title behind us, with three top drivers and a brand-new LMP1 car competing in a brand new championship. There's no doubt this season is going to be a tough one, but we have proved before that we can achieve what we set out to do, which means we have a very exciting journey ahead of us."