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Continental Tire Sebring Post-Race Notebook
- Updated: March 19, 2017
***The history books were re-written on Saturday, with brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor completing the Daytona-Sebring “Florida 36 Hours” sweep, 21 years after their father Wayne achieved the same feat in a Doyle Racing Riley & Scott Mk III Oldsmobile.
***With overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring and GTE-Pro class honors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015, Jordan Taylor becomes the latest addition to the “Triple Crown” club, also matching his father with the same accomplishment.
***Saturday’s race marked the first Cadillac 1-2-3 sweep in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, with all but the Gibson-powered Oreca 07 from JDC-Miller Motorsports hitting problems in another attrition-filled race for the new-for-2017 prototypes.
***Remarkably, all four Prototype Challenge cars had a clean race, with the class-winning No. 38 Performance Tech Oreca FLM09 and runner-up No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry finishing an impressive fifth and sixth overall, respectively, and ahead of the entire GT Le Mans field.
***In fact, only two of the six full-course cautions were due to incidents, both being single-car accidents for the No. 70 Mazda RT24-P of Joel Miller (brake failure) and Nicky Catsburg’s No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM, which also nosed into the tire barriers. Eric Curran’s early race spin in the then-leading No. 31 Action Express Cadillac was due to Curran being unable to re-fire his car.
***Miller reported post-race that his neck and upper back “are sore and will be sore for a bit,” although he did get back in the car prior to its retirement with suspension issues.
***The pole-sitting No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca Gibson suffered three alternator failures over the course of the race, ultimately resulting in retirement, with both the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson and Visit Florida Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson also spending considerable time behind the wall with various issues.
***Continental Tire’s new P class tire, which made its race debut on Saturday, received positive reviews from drivers and teams. Neel Jani’s record-breaking pole time smashed the previous track qualifying record by nearly three seconds, credited partially to the step forward in tire development.
***While the No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, and Mike Rockenfeller claimed the marque’s third straight GT Le Mans class win at Sebring, Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler dropped out after completing only 42 laps with overheating issues, marking the race’s first retirement. It was the car’s first official retirement since last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
***Drivetrain failure in the opening hour derailed the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM. The trio of Catsburg, John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk managed to get back out on track after lengthy repairs but ultimately retired when an apparent mechanical failure sent the Dutchman hard into the tire barriers and out of the race after 149 laps.
***Ben Keating and Jeroen Beekemolen claimed their first class win at Sebring after coming less than five minutes away from GT Daytona honors in 2015, when the engine on their Dodge Viper GT3-R seized while in the class lead. “We won the 11 hours and 57 minutes of Sebring in 2015 as our engine didn’t make it to the end,” Keating said.
***Ironically, it was Mario Farnbacher, Keating and Bleekemolen’s co-driver in their class-winning No. 33 Riley Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3, that took the win in 2015, with Saturday’s more conventional triumph marking the German’s second Sebring class win in three years.
***The GTD pole-sitting No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 rallied to a podium finish after an impressive closing stint by Tristan Vautier, who restarted in eighth with less than one hour to go. The car started from the pit lane and was forced to serve a drive-through penalty after missing the grid due to a fuel leak in warmup.
***While two of the three Mercedes-AMG GT3s ended up on the podium, the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing entry retired after suspected suspension failure. Cooper MacNeil manhandled the wounded car back to the pits after something broke on the left-front, causing for a few scary moments as the broken wheel nearly sent the GTD contender into oncoming cars on multiple occasions.
***Both the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Jeroen Mul and Mirko Bortolotti’s No. 11 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini ran out of fuel on the final lap, dashing hopes of a podium finish for the Italian manufacturer after a strong showing from both cars. The Grasser car ran without power steering in the final three hours.
***Jan Heylen was a late addition to the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports squad, helping co-drivers Patrick Lindsey, Joerg Bergmeister, and Matt McMurry to a solid sixth-place result in GT Daytona. The Belgian was up to speed rapidly despite limited time in the car, setting the second-fastest lap amongst his co-drivers just 0.054 seconds off the Porsche GT factory driver’s quickest time.
***The CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R retired with just over an hour remaining in the race due to low oil pressure, while suspension damage ended the day for the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 after 228 laps.
***3GT Racing battled through several issues but managed to get both of its Lexus RC F GT3 cars to the finish. The No. 14 dealt with suspension and fuel problems en route to an 18th place class result, while the No. 15 notched a 13th place finish. The results came after a promising showing in qualifying.
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge:
***The timing of the first full-course caution in Friday’s Sebring 120 threw teams, drivers and officials alike for a loop. The pit lane opened just shy of the 45-minute mark, which corresponds with the new minimum drive-time requirement for two-hour races. As a result, the top two-thirds of the GS grid could not enter pit lane to make their driver changes and achieve the minimum drive time for their first drivers (the drive time clock stops when a car is on pit road, per IMSA rules) while the back third could. Several teams took advantage of this quirk of the rules, most notably CJ Wilson Racing.
***While the discrepancy did not prevent the race-winning KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang from fighting back to the lead, co-winning driver Scott Maxwell said he hopes IMSA takes a look at the rule for the future. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Maxwell told Sportscar365. “I’d like to see the drive time window closed for the whole field if it is closed for the leader. I’m sure IMSA will look at it.”
***Drive time also caught out the No. 7 Automatic Racing McLaren 570S GT4. After leading laps, the car dropped off the pace with around 10 minutes to go and was ultimately not classified because Alan Brynjolfsson came up 20 seconds short of the 45-minute minimum.
***The GS race-winning No. 60 Mustang was a brand new chassis for KohR, which arrived at the team’s shop and was prepped in just over 24 hours, according to team principal Dean Martin. Maxwell and co-driver Jade Buford only found out they would be competing at Sebring late last week. Their Multimatic Motorsports-run chassis from Daytona is currently in France undergoing SRO-mandated modifications as Ford seeks final GT4 homologation.
***One day after competing at Sebring for Freedom Autosport, Chad McCumbee returned to his stock car racing roots. The former NASCAR driver competed in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Stock Car Series race on Sunday at Myrtle Beach Speedway, leading laps early before settling for 18th. McCumbee and co-driver Stevan McAleer finished 16th in their ST Class Mazda MX-5 on Friday.
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report