12 Hours of Sebring: Closest ever finish in the history of the race
In the closest ever finish in the 67-race history of the Sebring 12 Hours, the #31 Whelen Engineering/Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R clinched a victory ahead of the #10 Konica Minolta/Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac.
After twelve hours of racing at wet and soak Sebring International Raceway, Felipe Nasr crossed the finish line 1.030 seconds ahead of Jordan Taylor. Nasr was sharing the victorious #31 car with Eric Curran and Pipo Derani. Taylor’s teammates were Renger van der Zande and Matthieu Vaxiviere.
During the 12-hour race, which started behind the safety car because of rain and wet track, the #31 Cadillac was in the lead for 249 of 348 laps. But, in the end, it wasn’t an easy victory because the #10 Cadillac was pushing in the last two hours. Jordan Taylor nearly got past immediately after a pit stop with an hour and 20 minutes remaining when Nasr took over the #31 from Derani, but Nasr eventually managed to pull away.
Taylor was pushing until the end, getting to a 0.2sec gap, but he didn’t manage to take the victory from the Brazilian. In the end, the margin of 1.030 seconds became the closest overall finish in the 67-race history of the race, eclipsing the 2016 margin of victory of 2.82 seconds.
It was the first Sebring victory for both Nasr and Curran. For Derani, it was his second consecutive Sebring victory and his third in four years: He previously won with Tequila Patron ESM. Derani and Nasr will continue as full-season co-drivers in the #31 car, while Curran will rejoin the team for the next Michelin Endurance Cup round, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 30.
Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley made it two Action Express Racing cars on the podium with a third-place finish for #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi. It’s interesting that Brendon Hartley climbed to a podium two times in two days because he finished third a day before in FIA WEC’s 1000 Miles of Sebring.
The fourth place went to the #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi. The #54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi of Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Romain Dumas completed the top five.
The LMP2 class victory went to #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA squad of Kyle Masson, Cameron Cassels and Andrew Evans.
Porsche GT Team rounded its fantastic weekend at Sebring with another GT class victory. After they won in the 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday, the team celebrated a victory in the 12-hour race too. The Briton Nick Tandy and his French teammates Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki won the race in the #911 Porsche 911 RSR. To remind you, the same crew won the Sebring 12 Hours last year. It’s the 96th victory for Porsche at Sebring.
Early on in the race, lack of grip in the heavy rain initially threw both Porsche 911 RSR down the field. As conditions improved at the half-way point of the race, the experienced Porsche GT Team fought its way back into the lead. Nick Tandy defended his position off all attacks and crossed the finish line with a 1.951-second lead ahead of the #66 Ford GT of Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Sebastien Bourdais. Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller completed the GTLM class podium.
In the GTD class, the victory went to Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti and Rik Breukers in the #11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of GRT Grasser Racing Team. The same trio was on the top podium spot of Daytona 24 Hours in January. This time, they shared a podium with another two crews in the Italian cars. Magnus Racing’s John Potter, Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly brought their #44 Lamborghini to the second place, ahead of the #63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari 488 GT3, driven by Toni Vilander, Jeff Westphal and Cooper MacNeil.
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Grand Prix of Long Beach, just for DPi and GTLM cars, on April 13. All four classes will gather together again in May at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.