Sebring: VICI Racing race report

12 Hours/Finish report After 12 hours 3 minutes and 46 seconds the ...

12 Hours/Finish report

After 12 hours 3 minutes and 46 seconds the #5 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR crossed the finish line of the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday night, having overcome all the dramas that were thrown at it during the closing hours of the race.

As dusk rapidly rolled in last night the #5 car first suffered a puncture on track, then power steering failure, and on top of that, in the final hour, a half shaft failure. The professionalism and dedication of the VICI Racing crew saw the battered car repaired and able to race to the chequered flag for an impressive 6th place finish in GT2. Put together in record time, the focus of this week centred on a tire development program for Kumho Tire, and the performance, in the words of Team President, Ron C. Meixner, "exceeded our expectations."

The team went into the closing quarter of the race in excellent shape (7:00 PM - 4th position, 223 laps), having run for several hours in a podium paying position. At 7:02 PM (8 hr 57 min) Nathan Swartzbaugh brought the Porsche into the pits for routine driver change, fuel and four tires. Craig Stanton took over but just ten minutes later (7:14 PM, 9 hr 9 mins) he suffered a puncture around turn 10, believed to be debris from a prototype which crashed a couple of laps earlier. He nursed the car round to the pits where all four tires were changed, but no fuel, and Craig returned to the track.

At 8:00 PM (10 hours) the #5 car crossed the line for the 254th time during the race. At 8:13 PM (10 hr 8 min) Craig ended his stint, Nathan taking the car out with new tires and fuel. After a long, smooth run all day, the dramas were kicking in a darkness enveloped the historic circuit. Firstly Nathan reported that the power steering had failed.

Then the dramas got much worse. At 8:51 PM (10 hr 46 min, 272 laps) the right hand rear half shaft failed and Nathan brought the car back to the paddock where the well drilled crew immediately swung into action. Just 37 minutes after going behind the pit wall, the #5 car returned to the track with Craig back in the car for the final half hour. No further issues arose, and when the chequered flag dropped on the 56th edition of the Twelve Hours of Sebring and the sky erupted in fireworks, the #5 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR crossed the line 6th in GT2 having completed 286 arduous laps of the 3.7-mile, 17-turn legendary road course.

Ron C. Meixner, President VICI Racing says: "We're glad to have reached the finish line in a solid position despite all the dramas that were thrown at us during the final hours. The tire development program has exceeded our expectations all week and we have made excellent progress, as well as establishing a good working relationship with Kumho. We now have to take a long look at this week, analyse the data and progress, and move the program forward another big step, to a winning position."

Roland Wall, Technical Director & Chief Engineer, VICI Racing says: "We adopted a quite conservative race strategy for this event with everything being so new and untried. One stint at a time for fuel and tires. It worked very well and everything ran like clockwork all day and we were able to make progress lap-by-lap, not just in our learning curve but in track position, until circumstances beyond our control intervened. But everyone pulled together and we reach the finish line in a very respectable position. Today we really showed the pace we can achieve, and what this team can achieve. The crew have worked wonders this week, I cannot enthuse enough about their professionalism, dedication and sheer hard work. Everything was all so integrated it was as if we had all worked together for years."

Craig Stanton says: "The race went pretty well. It was tough out there, really tough, and even early on in the race offline it was heavy with debris. I had to be very careful. The puncture fortunately I was able to control and return the car to the pits undamaged, while the crew worked wonders to repair the problems that hit us hard late on. The Kumho tires were good, and we hit on some excellent choices all of which we can build on."

Nathan Swartzburgh: "It was a real hard race, very physical, very dehydrating. I have steadily got used to the Kumho tires all week and my lap times continued to improve. We were able to run consistent, promising, times for most of the day. The RSR is a great race car, I love it. The power steering problem made the work harder, but the crew did so well to fix everything and get the car back out on the track in a very short time."

-credit: vici racing

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Craig Stanton , Nathan Swartzbaugh