It wasn't exactly the 12 Hours of Sebring, but the cars ran well into the night at Sebring International Raceway on Friday. On the final day of a two-day private testing session attended by a number of teams, the track was open to cars until 9 p.m., giving them the opportunity to simulate the 12-hour endurance classic if they desired.
The testing session was also a time for debuts, as several teams had new cars out at the track, with the BMW Z4 GTE one of the most anticipated, as the team's factory drivers took turns putting the car through the paces.
Another debut was the Porsche 991 RSR GTE, which will be driven in the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship and is expected to compete in the United States in 2014 after the merger between the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and GRAND-AM Road Racing.
Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports were heavily involved in the testing with several cars, as well as his Cooper Tires Prototypes Lites car, which saw CORE autosport driver Colin Braun helping out with the driving duties.
Tucker has yet to officially confirm that he will be back to defend his 2012 LPM2 title, although he did previously say that he would come back if there was competition in the P2 class—which came in the shape of Extreme Speed Motorsports' decision to abandon the GT class and make the move to LMP2.
"Hopefully Level 5 sticks around and runs and I'm hearing there might be somebody else in the class as well," said Extreme Speed Motorsports owner/driver Scott Sharp.
When ESM made the decision to switch to the LMP2 class, Sharp spoke to Tucker about possibly purchasing his cars.
"We had a couple of conversations to see what he wanted to do," Sharp said. "It sounded like he wanted to keep his, but luckily it all worked out."
ESM bought one HPD ARX-03b from Enzo Potolicchio, which was used by Starworks Motorsports, and had that car at the test. A brand new car was purchased from Honda.
Greaves Motorsport had earlier announced its intention to compete in the LMP2 class at Sebring with its Zytek Z11SN-Nissan and on Monday announced a driver-line-up of Christian Zugel, Tom Kimber-Smith and Eric Lux.
Porsche was well-represented at the test, with both Team Falken Tire and Paul Miller Racing on hand with their GT cars. Porsche factory drivers Wolf Henzler (Falken) and Marco Holzer (Miller) were present to get some time in their respective cars, as Porsche factory drivers were unable to attend the official Sebring Winter Test earlier in the month.
The two returning teams from last year's LMP1 class, Dyson Racing and Muscle Milk Racing, were on hand, as was Dempsey/Del Piero Racing with the team's two Porsche GTC cars.
The official Sebring entry list is expected to be released today, although the field has slowly been taking shape over the past few months. If each team that has stated its intention to compete in the 12 Hours of Sebring follows through, there will be approximately 40 cars on the starting grid.