18.02.2013, 16:32:59 cet
Fosti con me nel pericolo e nella vittoria

When I first entered in the Sebring paddock, two years ago, I have to admit I was a bit surprised. It did not look to me like an established long time racetrack; I had the impression of something built up on the last minute instead. Because when you go over the bridge all you see is the concrete wall of turn 17.

Because I am a big fan of motor racing of the 60’s and the 70’s I was very much looking forward to come and race here at Sebring, theater of ”epic” battle with sports cars.

Now I am very happy and proud to have been one of the winners of this event so old and important in the history of our beloved sport.

What has impressed me a lot has been what happens beside the race track, how the spectators participate to the race and how they live the race with RVs and campfires, beer, music; amazing! I have been around the circuit and I have to say it was just ”fantastic”
As far as driving is concerned I have to say that, usually, reputation is never free earned. The circuit is really unique, difficult, challenging and interesting. Not a place to get bored…

Start and finish is quite wide, we slowly have to move to the right hand side to approach one of the fastest bends here. The road is very wide and unlike what you might think, this makes our life more difficult because, one feels a bit lost having the reference points so far away from you and the possibility of many different lines. Anyway, we brake a little bit  from 270 km/h and as soon as the pit wall ends we go to the right as much as possible over the acceleration line out of the pits, to gain some space and make the corner a bit wider. Down one gear, in 5th and turn in without hesitation, the speed is very high here. There are some nasty bumps just after the turn-in area that make your life really difficult (here I have to thank my Audi R8 that rides the road so well). We drive as close as possible to the wall at the apex and just easy the car to the outside in full acceleration. Here the road has narrowed a lot so no room for mistakes. There is another big bump right at the end that sometimes enjoys turning your car from a smooth vehicle into a crazy oversteering beast.

Up one gear ready for the braking of the complex, turn 3,4,and 5; ATTENTION! if there is one place where one can lock the wheels and go straight into the wall this is here. The grip on the front axle reduces a lot by going slower and there are some mild bumps in the braking area, this is not a place for beginners.

After having turned in for turn 3, in 3rd gear, which is a bit long but enables us to keep it through the whole section and does no deliver the power as brutally as the 2nd, we just follow the natural line making sure that we have not so much oversteer and a good traction to get a good speed in the following section. The big bend is no big deal providing that we know where to put the wheels in order to avoid the big bump about half way through that can be nasty when we are in full acceleration.

We reach a speed of 275 km/h before turn 7, with carbon brakes and a lot of down force, with my R8 we can brake really late, fantastic feeling when your body is launched forward and squeezed by the safety belts, we go down to 2nd and drive over the whole kerb (don’t tell it to my engineers…) ready for the wildest acceleration.

Through the gears we pass turn 8 and 9 without problems, if we don’t have to drive around slower cars, and approach turn 10, a 90 deg. 3rd gear right hander, where we try to carry as much speed as possible because the grip in acceleration is not good and the car always power-oversteer and we cannot accelerate as much as we want.

4th 5th just flat in turn 11 ready for turn 13, very vicious, there is a long bump just when we turn in, which very easily makes you lose the back-end. We obviously try to carry speed and that’s why we can have trouble (but we don’t because we are experienced ha ha…don’t worry)

We now accelerate into the very fast and exciting section keeping the throttle flat and the car on the road. 6th gear 260 km/h into turn 16. We go down to 4th and at a higher speed than one would think, we go through the turn riding over the flat kerb and using all the downforce that the car can deliver. Right, left, and right again into turn 16, down to third and out into the back straight making sure to avoid the outside kerb, which is quite painful for the car.

Here we reach the speed of 295 km/h. Braking for turn 17 is really exciting, the road has a lot of grip ad is very wide, so we can brake much later than we think. Fighting with the car to make it to the apex, here the line is very important because we need to avoid the bump, which upsets the car in acceleration. If we survive, than we have made it!! And we are ready for another lap… that you have to do on your own.
Have fun….


Emanuele Pirro

Sebring track
Sebring track - turn 1
Sebring track - turn 2, 3, 4 and 5
Sebring track - turn 6 and 7
Sebring track - turn 8, 9 and 10
Sebring track - turn 11, 12 and 13
Sebring track - turn 16
Sebring track - turn 17
Turn 1
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