Dayton's Team Finishes 17th in Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring SEBRING, Fla., March 20 - It might have been only half the length of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, but for Duncan Dayton it seemed twice as long. ...
Dayton's Team Finishes 17th in Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, Fla., March 20 - It might have been only half the length of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, but for Duncan Dayton it seemed twice as long.
Saturday's 47th annual Exxon Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway was brutal, but Dayton's team still finished 17th out of 61 entries. The North Salem, N.Y.-based driver was competing in his first 12 Hours of Sebring and his second race with the SUPPORTNET team, which finished fifth at Daytona in late January.
His co-drivers were again car owner Scott Schubot of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Henry Camferdam of Indianapolis. Their car, a yellow No. 8, is a 5-liter Ford Riley & Scott.
Sebring started life as an airport, and its bumps are notorious.
"This race was more physically taxing by far than Daytona, both on the machinery and the drivers," Dayton said. "With Daytona there are lots of times to sort of relax in the cockpit, but here it is so rough that the car is always under load, and the driver takes a pounding. Today's race was physically the hardest race I've ever run since I started driving in 1990."
The SUPPORTNET car took the green flag at 10:15 a.m. in 15th position. It had moved up to eighth by 5 p.m., but then the starter expired. The team diagnosed the problem, replaced the starter, did a brake job and various other things and had Dayton back on his way in only 32 minutes.
Prior to doing a double stint after these repairs, Dayton did a triple stint in the afternoon, when the temperature in the cockpit rose to well over 100 degrees.
If it was hot in the cockpit, the action was hot on the track too. This race was the inaugural event in the American Le Mans Series, and many factory teams from Europe were on hand.
"The level of competition here was significantly higher than it was in Daytona," Dayton noted. "Certainly some of the cars at Daytona were running at the top here too, but this weekend we had factory teams from Europe like BMW and Audi and a Judd-engine powered Riley & Scott using Formula 1-engine technology. The manufacturers have jumped in with significant resources to up the ante."
Dayton was behind the wheel as dusk settled over the 17-turn road course too. Although things were cooler then, driving at night posed its own set of challenges.
"The breaker on the dash for the apex lights kept going out when it got dark, so it was extremely difficult to see the corners," Dayton said. "You just kind of threw it into some of the turns almost blindly and made the best of things. It was wild!"
As the race neared its conclusion the car began to overheat, and dropped out of the competition with about 20 minutes to go.
Sebring, part of the internationally-recognized Triple Crown of Endurance Racing of Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans in France, is one of the most prestigious endurance races in the world. The event was covered live by ESPN and ESPN2. A two-hour highlights show is scheduled to be shown on ESPN2 on March 27 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Every year tens of thousands of fans attend the Sebring race, which is an annual rite of spring for many, and the infield in the center of the 3.70-mile road course has a carnival-like atmosphere. The first spectators in line to enter the raceway grounds traditionally arrive more than a week before the gates open. Saturday's crowd was estimated at over 100,000.
For more information, Internet users can call up Highcroft's website at www.pitpass.org, Sebring International Raceway's website at www.sebringraceway.com or SportsCar's website at www.professionalsportscar.com.