Following a much debated 24 Hours of Daytona, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge headed to crowd favorite Sebring this weekend, for the 65th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by “Fresh from Florida” at Sebring International Raceway.
After demolishing the lap-record during yesterday’s qualifying, the Rebellion-led Oreca had high hopes to put an end to the Cadillac crew’s seemingly unstoppable recent performance, but after a suite of airgun, starter motor and alternator issues, its campaign was over.
Also being subjected to mechanical failures were both the ESM Nissan DPi machines, one of which was also involved in a mid-race collision with the #31 Cadillac which was being piloted by Eric Curran at the time.
The #10 Cadillac took the lead after Wayne Taylor Racing decided to short-fuel the car during the eighth hour, pushing it past the #5 car. The two cars swapped places multiple times over the next few hours, but in the end, the #5 car was less fortunate in terms of traffic. The final stint left no drama, with Ricky Taylor remaining unchallenged to the finish line, allowing him to drive to his second IMSA win in a row.
The #85 JDC-Miller-run Oreca came out on top for the LMP2 class, but still trailing behind with a distant fourth place overall.
After issues with getting the car started, the pole-sitting #67 GTLM Ford GT was not able to take its earned position on the grid. Nonetheless it quickly rose to the top end of the field after just a few hours had passed despite running unorthodox strategies to its rivals.
Towards the latter half of the race, Ford stuck to its guns with a stubborn decision to stay inline with its pit strategy plan, while Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche all pitted opportunistically under yellow in the ninth hour. This allowed the #3 Corvette to lead towards the end of the race, ahead of the #911 Porsche, with the three Fords following behind.
A full-course yellow was put into effect with just over an hour to go — it was anyone’s guess as to who would take out the honors. The Porsche’s chances took a massive hit after a right-rear wheel-gun failure occurred during its final pitstop, which dropped the #911 from second in class to fifth.
With Garcia in the Corvette leading the field in front of two Fords as the race returned to green, odds of a Corvette win for the GTLM class were looking more and more likely. Looking to reclaim ground after a horror pitstop, the #911 Porsche was hunting the GTLM field down, making short work of both the Fords quickly gaining on the Corvette.
With a massive upset edging closer and closer, the Porsche sadly required another pitstop after suffering a left-front puncture, handing the race to the Corvette after succumbing to seventh. Following the Corvette was the #66 Ford in second, leading the Risi Ferrari and #67 Ford.
GT Daytona victory went to the Riley Motorsports AMG Mercedes GT3, thanks to a late-race pit gamble by the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488. The Prancing Horse outfit had decided to skip taking fresh tires, in hopes of creating much-needed distance on the rest of the field – but to no avail.
The Performance Tech Motorsports team ran a largely unchallenged campaign for the PC class throughout the entirety of the race, coming out on top against the #8 Starworks car.
Next up on the series schedule are the sunny streets of California, with the BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach, to be held April 7–8.
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