March 20, 2004, Sebring International Raceway -- The 52nd running of the 12 Hours of Sebring started with green flag waving at 10:31am EST on a typically warm Florida morning. The ambient temperature was hovering at 86, the temperature on the ...
March 20, 2004, Sebring International Raceway -- The 52nd running of the 12 Hours of Sebring started with green flag waving at 10:31am EST on a typically warm Florida morning. The ambient temperature was hovering at 86, the temperature on the surface of the track was 92.
The CITGO Racing/Taurus Sports #15 Lola B2K/10/Judd LMP 1, to be piloted by Milka Duno, Justin Wilson and Phil Andrews, started 15th on the grid overall with F1 star Wilson behind the wheel.
In the very first lap of the race Justin took the car from 15th to 7th.
Justin brought the car in for the first pit of the day at lap 24 where a fuel rig difficulty required him to return again two laps later. At lap 52, 1 hour and 44 minutes into the race, Justin handed the car over to teammate Phil in the 6th position overall.
"I really enjoyed the opening laps and the battle with Jon Field and Chris Dyson," smiled Justin. "I then began to pick up a bit of oversteer which made for really hard work and gave me a few blisters on my hands."
Phil carried on in great fashion until, on lap 69, a tire went down and he did a great job bringing the car back in for new tires and fuel. On lap 84, with a yellow flag caution in force, Phil handed the car to Milka in the 10th position overall.
"I was very happy in the car, but for it becoming very physical to drive," said Phil. "The track is very dirty. I don't know how I picked up the tire puncture, but I was pleased that I was able to bring it back into the pits without any damage."
At 3 hours and 22 minutes into the race Milka got in for her first stint behind the wheel. After an event-free 65-minute stint which saw Milka's lap times impressively drop, she passed the car to Justin by very wisely taking advantage of yellow-flag conditions.
"I was happy to find some more speed in the car," said Milka. "But here's no question that this is a very physical race indeed."
Justin took the wheel for the second time and when the flag changed to green he began a stellar push lapping in the low 1:53's and bringing the car up to 6th before handing off to Phil after 54 minutes in the car.
"The car feels very strong now," said Justin. " I had one scary moment avoiding a couple of Porsche's and thought we were going to have a real problem, but it ended up just being some tire pick-up from debris on the track."
Picking up the seat again at lap 147, Phil started his second stint and a short 10 laps later brought the car in for an unscheduled stop due to his feeling a very bad vibration that was ultimately attributed once again to the tires picking up substantial debris on the track. At the time of this report, 4:30pm EST, 6 hours into the 12 hour endurance classic, Phil is holding on to 6th place overall. Milka is scheduled soon for her second stint.
"I'm anxious to get behind the wheel again," said Milka. "This is a very good race -- a very tough race -- and we're doing very well so far.
CITGO, based in Tulsa, Okla., is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals, refined waxes, asphalt and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information on CITGO visit www.citgo.com.
Additional information on drivers Milka Duno and Justin Wilson is available at www.milkaduno.com and www.justinwilson.co.uk, respectively. Information on Taurus Sports can be viewed at www.taurussports.co.uk.