Ford’s GTLM drivers believe that Corvette Racing’s sudden turn of speed in the closing stages of the Sebring 12 Hours cost it another famous victory on Saturday.
Ford had looked set to repeat its GT victories in the showpiece long-distance events at Le Mans and Daytona, running 1-2-3 at some stages at Sebring.
But its decision to put all the cars on the same strategy in the crucial closing hours opened the door to rivals taking alternate strategies to benefit from full-course yellows, which Corvette and Porsche then did.
Once the #3 Corvette got out front, none of the Fords were able to chase it down. And even when the #911 Porsche suffered a pitstop disaster, it was still able to pass two Fords before a puncture and pit penalty ruined its challenge.
“It’s always frustrating to get second,” said Ford’s Joey Hand, who won at Le Mans and Daytona. “We got beat by a car that was just faster at night.
“It wasn’t from a lack of trying. I threw everything at it. At the risk of running my tires off I went for it, and thought that I’d get by and head them off.
“You want to have that win to get the three and keep the streak alive. That would have been a fun thing. When it’s all said and done, we’ve won some big races over the last year. I can’t be too disappointed.”
Teammate Sebastien Bourdais, who was seeking a unique Florida triple after Daytona IMSA and St Petersburg IndyCar success, added: “Things were pretty much under control for most of the day and we were in a great position.
“Ultimately it ended up not being the result we wanted, but when the ‘Vette got in front we just couldn’t chase it down.
“When it came down to it, it just seemed they could turn it up a little bit more than we could and that was the difference.”