8Star Motorsports finished fifth in the LMPC category.
8Star Motorsports doggedly fought its way to the finish of the 62nd Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring at Florida’s historic and evocative Sebring International Raceway, finishing fifth in the LMPC category (15 March).
The Pompano Beach-based team was on the back foot as the once-around-the-clock enduro reached the six-hour mark, having been forced to carry out repairs to the front end of its ORECA following an unfortunate spin for Eric Lux.
However, Tom Kimber-Smith jumped in after 8Star Motorsports’ highly-skilled mechanics carried out car repairs and faced the tough task of reducing the 18-lap deficit to the team’s rivals.
The British star, who rejoined the fray after taking the start of the race on Saturday morning, felt more at home than ever in 8Star’s striking ORECA FLM09 prototype and comfortably lapped the 3.74mile Floridian circuit in the 1m56s, only dipping below the 2m00s mark while baulked in traffic and on heavily-worn Continental rubber during the final ten laps of his run.
Kimber-Smith had dragged 8Star to within 14 laps of the LMPC leaders when Lux returned to the track with approximately four hours to run.
A solid stint from Lux as day turned to night and another strong showing from Kimber-Smith where he broke into the 1m57s brought 8Star to within nine laps of its LMPC rivals as Sean Rayhall finally got his shot in the final 90 minutes.
The 19-year old hotshot gradually upped his speed and comfortable circulated in the high 1m57s, eclipsing the class leaders for pace and indicating that 8Star was more than capable of achieving a podium finish or even victory at Sebring.
Tom Kimber-Smith said: “The team actually did an incredible job when repairing the car because we only lost about 18 laps, which is pretty good considering the damage we sustained. We had setup issues beforehand and found that they had been cured after the crash, so I don’t know whether we had some mechanical problems beforehand or whether the track just came to us.
“I felt very comfortable in the car – more comfortable than I’ve felt all week – and we seemed to be getting quicker and quicker. With such great pace, it’s a shame we’re not higher up the order and fighting, because I think we’d walk this race. A lot of things would have had to go our way if we were to challenge for the victory and it was too much to hope for.”