Rahal Ends Up Sixth in GT2 Class In His First Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring SEBRING, Fla., March 18 - Graham Rahal, the youngest driver in this year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, was one of three drivers of a Porsche that finished sixth...
Rahal Ends Up Sixth in GT2 Class In His First Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, Fla., March 18 - Graham Rahal, the youngest driver in this year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, was one of three drivers of a Porsche that finished sixth in the GT2 class Saturday. The 17-year-old from New Albany, Ohio also became the third generation of the Rahal family to compete in the once-around-the-clock classic at Sebring International Raceway here, a race his father won in 1987 in another Porsche.
Rahal and his co-drivers, Germans Mike Rockenfeller and Klaus Graf, ended up 15th overall in the Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts Porsche No. 23 Saturday night, one lap behind the fifth-place finisher in their class.
The car led the class at one point and was third in class for a good portion of the race, but two flat tires, contact with another car and a broken suspension piece kept them off the podium.
Rahal drove twice, taking over from Graf two hours and 45 minutes into the race and doing a double stint, as he was relieved by Rockenfeller one hour and 41 minutes later. Although the track was very slippery in the heat of the day Rahal didn't have any incidents, despite his rookie status.
He drove again at the eight-and-a-half-hour mark, but less than an hour later trouble struck. The bolts in the car's lower control arm, probably stressed by a tangle one of his co-drivers had with another car, broke while Rahal was in turn three of the 17-turn, 3.7-mile road course nine hours and 17 minutes into the event. He skillfully kept the car off the wall and made it back to the pits, and although the Alex Job Racing crew fixed the problem in only 15 minutes, the time lost was costly.
"The Alex Job Racing crew worked really hard; we had a difficult weekend," Rahal said afterwards. "A podium would have been nice, but we'll have to settle for points now."
This race was Rahal's second endurance sports car race ever. He competed in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at the end of January.
"Today was much harder," he said when asked to compare the events. "Daytona is smooth but Sebring is very rough, and that makes it a lot harder. It abuses the equipment. The fittest team wins in the end.
"Our car was pushing in the heat of the afternoon, which is not necessarily bad but it was hard to make any ground," he added. "The GT2 cars all ran the exact same pace all afternoon, even me. It's hard to catch or lose anybody when the field is so close."
Rahal is now off to California to test his Gehl-sponsored Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Formula Atlantic car at California Speedway in Fontana early next week in preparation for that series' season opener April 9 on the streets of Long Beach, Calif.
Rahal is scheduled to drive the Alex Job Porsche again at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Sept. 27-30.