IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

Whelan Engineering / Cadillac Win At Sebring (18.03.19)

Victory in the 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts went to the #31 Whelan Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, driven by Felipe Nasr, Eric Curran and Pipo Derani, the #31 car taking the chequered flag 1.030 seconds ahead of the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac Dpi-W.R driven by Renger Van Der Zande, Jordan Taylor and Matthieu Vaxivière.

Completing the overall podium positions was the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac piloted by João Barbosa, Brendon Hartley and Filipe Albuquerque.

The LMP2 category, with two entries, saw the win go to the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA LMP2 driven by Kyle Masson, Cameron Cassels and Andrew Evans,

After its victories in both the LMGTE Pro and Am categories in the FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring, Porsche GT Team stood on the top step of the podium once again with victory in the GTLM class of the 12 Hours of Sebring after Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frederick Makowiecki brought the #911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR home for the win, 1.951 seconds ahead of the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT, driven by Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sébastien Buemi.

The top three in the GTLM class was completed by the #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R driven by Jan Magnussen. Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller.

Lamborghini took a 1 – 2 in the GTD class with the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, piloted by Roll Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti and Rik Breakers finishing just under three seconds ahead of the #44 Magnus Racing Huracán driven by John Potter, Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly.

The GTD podium positions were completed by the #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the driver line-up of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga.

Due to heavy rain, The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring ran behind the Safety Car for the first 40 minutes but from the start the #31 car dominated, eventually leading 249 of the 348 laps run. However the #10 Konia Minolta Cadillac pushed the Whelan Engineering Racing entry hard.

Jordan Taylor, at the wheel of the #10 car, almost took the lead with 80 minutes remaining but Felipe Nasr managed to hold on. With 21 minutes remaining, Taylor closed to within .2 seconds of Nasr but was still not close enough to make the pass.

Fate was to play another card when , with 15 minutes remaining, the race was neutralized with a Full Course Yellow, providing Taylor with one last chance. When racing resumed with under 10 minutes left to run however, Nasr managed to hold on to the lead and took the chequered flag with the narrowest margin of victory in the 67-year history of the race, beating the 2016 record of 2.82 seconds.

Nasr was clear that he and the team had had to be perfect from lights to flag to secure the victory.

“Jordan was already warmed up, he was in the car knowing that he was going to be close,” said Nasr. “From the time I jumped in the care all the procedures – getting the belts on, changing the tyres – and he was right there.

“I couldn’t make a little mistake today,” continued Nasr. “It was all about hitting our marks and I did that from the Lap 1 to the chequered flag. There were some pretty tricky moments out there, like I caught traffic a few times and I had a four-second lead and that last yellow flag as well that came with four laps to go, man, that was really tricky! I could see they picked up the pace but we got the job done first.”

In the LMP2 class the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA held on a for a straightforward victory after the #52 PRI Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA had to undergo a lengthy pit-stop for suspension repairs.

Kyle Masson, driver of the #38 car with teammates Cameron Cassels and Andrew Evans was, however, quick to point out that the race was anything but easy for the Deerfield Beach, Florida-based team.

“Today was a really hard twelve hours,” said Masson. “Sebring is so bumpy. To get through the day with the car holding up completely, no mechanicals, it was a flawless execution. I’m just happy we brought the car home safe.

“For me, the rain was something that I prayed for. I love driving in the rain and I love racing in it. I brought our car up to sixth overall and to be passing the pole-sitting Penske DP1 was a great feeling. I was very calm and cool and experience builds calmness in the car. It was a lot easier today that two years ago remaining level-headed.”

In the GTLM class, victory seemed to be going the way of the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, piloted by Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon. However with the #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, with Antonio Garcia at the wheel, leading, Nick Tandy, driving the #911 Porsche passed Ryan Briscoe in the #67 Ford GT for second place. Second place turned into the lead after Garcia had to pit.

Tandy then had the lead with 35 minutes remaining. Briscoe closed up to Tandy but a spin at the restart meant that Tandy and the #911 Porsche 911 RSR could hold on for the class victory.

“I didn’t realise the Corvette had to pit,” said Nick Tandy. “I got ahead of them before the yellow. We had a stop advantage before them on the second to last stop and we had a bit of a tyre advantage to leap frog them on the out lap. But then we were going to really have to take it easy on the fuel tank. I’m glad we didn’t have to do that at the very end.”

In the GTD class, GRT Grasser Racing Team took its third victory in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with the same three drivers – Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Rik Breukers – being part of the driver line-up.

Bortolotti was delighted with the win.

“It’s so cool to be back at Sebring and we couldn’t wish for a better start to the season, winning Daytona and Sebring” said the Italian driver. “I hope I don’t wake up in half an hour. It feels like a dream. I’m really happy. I can’t believe it right now. It was a tough race. We made no mistakes. We had some contact with some lapped cars. All other classes are fighting as well. It’s such a difficult race to win. I’m really proud of the result.”

The next round of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on April 12 – 13.