Sebring 12H Hr 6: WTR Acura leads Cadillacs at half distance
Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing Andretti Autosport led the 12 Hours of Sebring at half distance as Action Express Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing gave chase in their Cadillacs.
At the start of the fourth hour, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Cadillac V-Series R Scott Dixon had a 30s lead over the BMW of Philipp Eng, the Porsche 963s of Nick Tandy and Felipe Nasr but half an hour later, Eng went off at Turn 3.
The moment’s hesitation to avoid the incident allowed Nasr to slip ahead of his teammate, and 15m later Tandy’s day got worse when his car suddenly slowed out of Turn 5.
He was tapped by the closely following Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06, and then hobbled to the pits where the doors were opened but Tandy stayed onboard and resumed action but a lap down. IMSA Radio reported a gas had been leaking into the cockpit but that some tightened hoses cured the problem. He would pit at the four-hour mark and hand off to Dane Cameron.
Meanwhile, Louis Deletraz (WTR Acura) had been charging forward, passing Nick Yelloly’s BMW and then Nasr to move into second place, but he couldn’t get his deficit to Dixon to less than half a minute except when the Ganassi Caddy hit traffic. That said, Dixon had pitted for new tires after a quick spin at Turn 17.
Yelloly fell back before pitting a lap after his teammate Eng who had handed off to Marco Wittmann.
Renger van der Zande took over from Dixon at the fourth scheduled stops and emerged 40sec ahead of Deletraz but was double-stinting the tires so could expect his lead to diminish. He survived a trip off the track and actually got his lead out to 44sec.
The #7 Porsche ran a further eight seconds down, now with Michael Christensen at the wheel.
Alexander Sims had done a great job to help Action Express Racing recover from its earlier misfortune and by the time he handed off the #31 Cadillac to Jack Aitken, it was up to fifth place, chasing down Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura which was now being pedaled by Colin Braun.
With 7h40m to go, their battle converted to a tussle over the final podium place, because Christensen pitted and fell to seventh, promoting the two BMWs. Not long after, Aitken was past Braun and into third place, using his fresher tires to close down on Deletraz to easily take second at Turn 10 with 7h15m left.
Approaching the end of the fifth hour, however, the fourth full-course caution of the race (see LMP2) ended Deletraz’s misery, for he was able to duck into pitlane just before the yellows flew, and take on a set of fresh Michelins. That meant the WTR Acura emerged in front – with Filipe Albuquerque now at the wheel – once the other GTP runners on the lead lap pitted.
Although unluckily demoted to second, van der Zande at least now had fresh rubber but he would have to hold off the similarly shod Aitken in the other Cadillac and Sheldon van der Linde in the #25 BMW.
Braun had a long stop, the Meyer Shank team having to remove the engine cover, and so he fell to fifth in class. By staying out a lap longer, Christensen in the #7 Porsche, Wittmann in the #24 BMW and Dane Cameron in the #6 Porsche pitted a lap later to get back on the lead lap.
At the restart, Albuquerque easily held off the two Cadillacs, pursued by van der Linde, Braun, the two Porsches and Wittmann. With 6h30m to go, Christensen locked up under braking for Turn 10 to cede sixth to teammate Cameron. In fact, Cameron had some strong pace and passed Braun for fifth.
Just as the sixth hour was clocked, van der Zande suffered a spin and Aitken swooped past to grab second. Thereafter, the Ganassi car didn’t appear to be losing time, and in fact set a faster Sector 2 and Sector 3 time than the AXR machine. Still, Aitken was 4.7sec down.
It’s still anyone’s guess as to who will triumph in LMP2, for there has been fierce competition between PR1 Mathiasen MotorSports, Rick Ware Racing, Crowdstrike Racing by APR, Tower Motorsports and High Class Racing. Seemingly out of the battle is TDS Racing. Its challenge was ended by a temporary engine issue for the #11 which dropped it two laps down and the #35 car which struck the Turn 16 tire wall to bring out the fourth full-course caution.
At the end of the sixth hour, Ben Hanley led for Crowdstrike, ahead of Alex Quinn of PR1 Mathiasen, Kyffin Simpson of Tower – who took over from IndyCar ace Scott McLaughlin, who drove a very strong couple of stints, Devlin DeFrancesco of RWR, Lars Kern of AWA and Anders Fjordbach of High Class.
The Andretti Autosport has run strong at the front of the class after Jarett Andretti’s earlier clash with the #74 Riley Motorsports machine, with Jr III Racing, AWA and JDC Miller Motorsports and Riley still very much in the hunt. At half distance Gabby Chaves of Andretti leads Josh Burdon in the Riley car, Tijmen van der Helm of JDC Miller and Garett Grist of Jr III.
#3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD: Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Tommy Milner
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
GTD Pro / GTD
The GTD Pro class was defined by an excellent battle between the Corvette C8.R and the WeatherTech Racing Mercedes Benz AMG GT3, Jordan Taylor and Maro Engel battling hard but fair, but they regularly found themselves behind the out of sequence Risi Competizione Ferrari 296.
Whenever it pitted, that left Taylor and Engel’s replacement Jules Gounon up front with a half minute margin over the Patrick Pilet-piloted Pfaff Porsche 911 GT3 R. This trio ran ahead of GTD leader Mike Skeen of Team Korthoff Motorsports (Mercedes), the GTD Pro Lexus RC F of Ben Barnicoat and Bryan Sellers’ Paul Miller Racing BMW M4.
Once he made his scheduled stop, Daniel Serra in the Risi Ferrari emerged fifth in GTD Pro, seventh of the GT3 cars overall, ahead of Turner Motorsports’ #96 BMW, Roman de Angelis in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage and Ryan Hardwick in the Wright Motorsports Porsche.
Following the fourth caution, toward the end of the fifth hour, the Corvette now driven by Tommy Milner held off Gounon’s WeatherTech Benz, Serra’s Risi Ferrari, Franck Perera’s Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan, Patrick Pilet’s Pfaff Porsche, Jack Hawksworth and Chandler Hull in the #95 Turner Motorsport BMW.
Now showing a lap behind was the GTD class, and it was the two Mercedes of Winward Racing and Team Korthoff Motorsports who led in the hands of Indy Dontje and Mikael Grenier respectively. Then came two Aston Martin Vantages of Roman de Angelis for Heart of Racing and Andy Lally for Magnus Racing. Right behind them was the Paul Miller Racing BMW of Madison Snow and Jan Heylen’s Wright Porsche.
Hawksworth moved his Lexus past Pilet’s Porsche for fourth in GTD Pro, having dispensed with Perera who got a drive-through penalty for overly defensive driving. Pilet regained the position just a few laps later, yet later Hawksworth regained fourth as Pilet got bottled up behind the GTD Racers Edge Acura. However, the pair of them were over 16sec behind Milner whose mirrors were full of Gounon, with Serra a further 3.5sec back.
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