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Sebring 12 Hour
March 17-20, 1999
Peter Kitchak, Charles Slater (US) and Mike Hezemans (NL) make the podium, finish 3d in the Konrad Motorsports Porsche GT-2 twin turbo.

That's Kitchak on the right in the photo with the trophy (above his head).

Official Sebring 12 Hour Practice and Race Results.
Peter's Report Wednesday March 17
Peter's Report Thursday March 18
Peter's Report Friday March 19
The Culture of Sebring
THE RACE
New Photos





Wednesday March 17th - The 1st Day:  Weather about 80 and sunny - track is warm and fast.  It's been a good day.

Our car (Konrad Motorsports Porsche GT-2) is running great and we've finished the first qualifying session 4th in class.  The two Corvettes are unbeatable - in qualifying - and we knew that going in. We're a bit slower than the one Porsche GT-2 in front of us but we could get there.  The big news for our team is that Owner, and last year's Porsche Cup Champion Franz Konrad, has decided to give up the ride in the Lola WSC car to drive with us in the GT-2 car.  Dutch driver Mike Hezemann is being moved from the GT-2 car to the Lola.  We expect to be in good shape with each of our drivers  able to run under 2:10 laps during the race. We can't outrun the Corvettes, but I still think it's questionable whether or not they can last.  The Saleen Mustang, which should also be very fast, didn't get going today, but  we still have another day of qualifying tomorrow.  We have night practice tomorrow night.  Bob Johnson (Porsche GT-2 #50) who prepares my club racing car,  has been struggling a bit to find the speed but I expect them to get better as the week moves on and with consistant driving they should do a very respectable job. Tom McGlynn keeps asking for softer springs and maybe tomorrow he'll get them. Right Tommy?

I'd have posted a photo or two, but I left the camera back at the track.  Maybe tomorrow.

On the overall front, the BMW prototypes are the class of the field. And the top Ferrari is only 7th! The best Panoz in in the middle teens.  BMW is first, a Judd Powered Riley and Scott is 2d and another BMW third. Riley and Scotts are 4th and 5th with another BMW 6th.  Then comes the first Ferrari.

Top 10 overall are as follows:
 

Pos No Cat Drivers Car Time Speed
1 42 P Kristensen/Lehto/Muller BMW V12 LMR 1:49.850 121.25
2 0 P van de Poele/Saelens/Enge R&S Mk III Judd 1:50.296 120.76
3 43 P Winkelhock/Martini/Dalmas BMW V12 LMR 1:51.216 119.76
4 20 P Dyson/Leitzinger/EFR  R&S MK III Ford 1:52.645  118.24
5 16 P Weaver/Wallace/Schroedr  R&S MK III Ford 1:52.968  117.90
6 26 P Bscher/Soper/Auberlen BMW V12 LM 1:53.535  117.32
7 11 P Anglelli/deRadiges/Lazz  Ferrari 333 SP 1:53.571 117.28
8 12 P Taylor/Caffi/FangioII  Ferrari 333 SP 1:53.739 117.11
9 1 P Brabham/Bernard/Graf  Panoz GTR1 Ford  1:54.141 116.69
10 27 P Lienhard/Theys/Baldi Ferrari 333 SP 1:54.194 116.64

Top 6 in GT2 are as follows:
 

Pos No Cat Drivers Car Time Speed
26 3 GTS Fellows/Kneifel/Paul, Jr. Chev Corvette C5R 2:02.909  108.37
28 4 GTS Sharp/Pilgrim/Heinricy Chev Corvette C5R 2:04.273  107.18
30 48 GTS Kaufmann/Ligonnet/Stewart Porsche 911 Turbo 2:05.935  105.76
32 61 GTS Kitchak/Slater/Hezemann  Porsche 911 Turbo 2:08.028  104.03
33 83 GTS Brown/Hurtgen/Haupt  Porsche 911 Turbo  2:08.029   104.03
34 56 GTS Snow/Snow/Hulsman Porsche 911 Turbo 2:08.645  103.54

You'll note that we outqualified the 5th place car by 1/1000th of a second.  That translates to about 3" difference at the start-finish line. And, for those of you who don't know, the timing is all done electronically from a small transmitter in the car to a wire that is in the track at the timing line.  So...3" ain't a big deal.  The competition is fierce and it'll be a tough race.  More tomorrow. Check out the Sportscar web site for complete up to date information.

Thursday March 18 - The 2d Day. Warm and Sunny - A high of  80.

Bad information yesterday about the driver switch.  We thought we were going to switch drivers and the ALS - taking a page from the French - said that we couldn't  make the switch.  So Mike Hezemans will drive and that's just fine. He's quite quick.

It was an uneventful day.  We had a morning practice,  afternoon second qualifying and night practice.  In the morning session I drove a total of  3 laps, an out lap, a timed lap and and an in lap. Somwhat typical.  We've been chasing an understeer problem, the first time in my career I can remember - a turbo Porsche with an understeer.  But we're doing OK and will be in the hunt.  We dropped one position today to the Mustang which finally got running.  See the results for details. We'll start 5th. The car is running fine and I have no complaints.

Night Practice: Boy this is a dark track and we have something new this year -  large vertical poles at the  apexes of the corners which are reflective and difficult to figure out in some cases.  I almost had a collision with a WSC car when he misjudged a pole that was marking the outside of the track as an apex and was headed toward it.  He got all crossed up trying to stay on the track, came across and almost hit me.  Sneaking by, I managed to avoide disaster and got around him OK.  At any rate, practice is over, and our 2:08 is 5th fast in class. One of the Corvettes is first in class and a BMW first overall. Below are some of the significant cars and shots of the Konrad team.
 
 


The leading BMW LeMans Prototype 
starts night practice

One of the factory Goodwrench Corvettes

The Mustang that went ahead of us on the grid 
Not exactly your father's Ford Mustang. 
One of the drivers is Ron Johnson from Minneapolis, 
now living in Laguna Beach

We head out for night practice

The Boss...Franz Konrad

Bob Johnson, owner and co-driver of the Johnson Autosport Porsche GT-2, son Rew and co-driver Mike Hoke plan strategy for the evening session.
Bob Johnson prepares Peter K's Club Racing Porsche in his shop in Northfield, Minnesota


The Konrad crew relaxes in the pits prior to the start of night practice.


 



Friday March 19, 1999.  Hot and Sunny...We may get through the week without rain.

Today was another uneventful day.  We had only one 50 minute practice session and we used it to test a variety of tire combinations, seraching for the best rubber compounds to use to get the handling where we wanted it. We still have more push (understeer)  than we'd like, and it certainly is quite a bit different than the typical oversteer we have. We were fourth in class in the session this morning. 2 Corvettes and 1 Porsche ahead of us, but we're in the hunt for sure.  There'll be 6 or 7 cars in our class that can win. And the Corvettes should have an easy time of it if they can hold together. They are truly awsome.

Our Team:  I'm attaching photos of some of the guys.  Our crew chief is from Germany and his name is Erwin Kickmeier.  He's worked for Franz Konrad for quite a while and is a great guy. The other two drivers are Charles Slater and Mike Hezemans.  Charles is about 40 and has  a very successful business that makes medical devices. He owned the sanctioning body for sports cars a few years ago when it was called IMSA and tells me is was a very expensive and losing proposition.  He's now concentrating on his business and has been comuting from Fort Lauderdale in his high tech, souped-up single engine plane. He set our quick time in qualifying and has been very consistant.

Mike Hezemans is from the Netherlands.  He's 29 years old and very quick.  A few weeks ago he was tire testing with Franz in Spain working with Dunlop and they drove more than 400 laps on the track in 4 days and used up hundreds of tires.  Dunlop will have some new combinations of tires as a result. Mike is the son of a famous Dutch driver, Toine Hezemans, who has won Sebring, Daytona and Watkins Glen ...and Mike's father is younger than I am!!!  Mike runs an indoor go-kart operation in the Netherlands. You can see all about their family businesses on the Hezeman's web site.
 

Erwin Kickmeier - Our Crew Chief

Charles Slater (USA) 
One of Peter's Co-drivers

Mike Hezemans (NL) 
The other co-driver

We will try to sleep well tonight.  Tomorrow is race day and we have a warm up at 7:30 AM.


The Culture of Sebring
 

Now, a few notes on the fans at Sebring.  It is a place like no other that we have raced. The fans, the set-up and the culture are unique. From the Sebring Jalopys to the tents and Goodwill furniture the infield is unique and truly fun. I sure ain't Edina or Wayzata.  Take a look at the photos below.
 

The Sebring Woosse Wagon 
Minimum capacity - 1 case of  beer per hour

The Sebring Jalopy Bus...licensed for the street, its
  consumption level seems to be about 
the same as the Woosse Wagon

Note the "Goodwill Couches"

Another beer...anyone?