9 hour/Three-quarter distance report
As the shadows lengthen at Sebring and the sun drops lower by the minute, the #5 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR continues to run impressively, and after holding third position for over three hours, Craig Stanton is currently at the wheel in a very strong fourth place.
The last three hours have seen a few little dramas, though as the race passed half distance at 4:00 PM, the #5 car received a stop-go penalty. At 4:08 PM (6 hr 3 min) Uwe Alzen brought the car in to serve the penalty. He continued in the driving seat until the end of the stint, pitting at 4:48 PM (6 hr 43 min) for a routine change of driver, tires and fuel.
Craig took over the wheel on a warm and sunny late afternoon in Florida with air temperate in the mid-80 degrees, and the track just under 10 degrees higher. At the 7 hour mark (5:00 PM) Craig was in third place having covered 175 laps of the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course. At 5:49 (7hr 44 mins) Craig ended his stint, and with four new Kumho tires and fuel, Nathan Swartzbaugh took over in the cockpit. At 5:57 PM (7 hr 52 min) Nathan returned to the pits to serve a stop-go penalty (25 seconds) and as the clock ticked past 6:00 PM and 8 hours, two thirds distance was completed. Nathan was lying in a solid fourth place in GT2, and the car at this point has covered 202 laps. At 7:02 PM (8 hr 57 min) Nathan came in for a routine driver change to Craig who clocks over the 9 hour/three quarter distance in fourth place and having covered 226 laps.
The heat today hasn't bothered Craig Stanton, thanks to his triathlon training. "I don't know how anybody else can do this race without training," said Stanton. "It's the hottest part of the day and you're out there fighting the whole time. It's more like motocross than it is like car racing because you're hanging on to a bucking bronco. You've got a short wheelbase car, a track with lots of big dips and high g-loads, and it's like hanging onto a big, old bull. My chiropractor will have a heyday with me on Monday because my head rattles around between the seat about six times a lap."
With this being the first event of a brand new and ambitious tire development program being run by VICI Racing in conjunction with Kumho Tire in the ALMS, the race performance so far is well above the team's expectations, and it builds on the important and steady progress that has been made all week here.
Craig Stanton says: "We've been hunting around with compounds and construction and pressures, and that last set of tires was by far the best one I've felt so far," said Stanton. "You could put the Porsche anywhere you wanted. There's a lot of fighting going on in traffic, and the other classes demand a lot of the car because you've often got to change your arc on exit. You've got to do things that put a whole lot of stress on the tires because you have an arc and all of a sudden another car comes down and pinches you off. You're on the gas and the tire is fully loaded, so it's hard on the tire. That last set of tires was brilliant for the first 18 laps or so and then fell off just slightly."
Jason Myers, Kumho Tire Chief Technician for #5 car: "It's going quite well, all things considered. Each lap we're learning more and more. We're really doing testing during the race and we're learning about each compound, the drivers and the car at the same time. The tires are lasting the stint very well. We're working well with the VICI Racing guys. For coming together so late in the off-season, I think we're doing very well. Porsche builds a great car. Considering the experience VICI Racing had on our tire coming in, it's going very well so far."
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is being telecast live on SPEED TV. Live radio broadcasting, plus live scoring and pit notes, are available at www.americanlemans.com.