Action Express Racing’s Jack Aitken held off Nick Yelloly to win the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring after a late-race pileup that took out the three leading GTP cars in dramatic fashion.
Aitken drove his No. 31 Cadillac V-Series.R to a 2.940-second win over Yelloly’s No. 25 Team RLL-run BMW M Hybrid V8 as the two remaining contending GTP entries in a five-minute run to the checkered flag.
It came after a multi-car crash triggered by contact between the No. 6 Penske Porsche 963 of Mathieu Jaminet and Filipe Albuquerque’s No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 in Turn 3, which sent Albuquerque’s Acura through the grass and into leader Jaminet.
Felipe Nasr, in the third-placed GTP entry, also got collected in the pileup, with the No. 7 car driving over the sister No. 6 Porsche. All three drivers climbed from their cars under their own power.
The accident, with 20 minutes to go, eliminated what had been an enthralling battle between all four LMDh manufacturers for the win in the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Jaminet initially got around Albuquerque for the lead with 55 minutes to go but dropped to second after the Portuguese driver went wide in Turn 14.
Aitken pitted for energy replenishment with 53 minutes to go, moments before a yellow came out for the stopped Forte Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 of Loris Spinelli, which led to all of the leaders except for the British-Korean driver to pit for full service.
The No. 6 Porsche regained the lead following the restart with 30 minutes to go, behind a daring three-wide battle for second front straight between Aitken, Albuquerque and Nasr, prior to the race-ending drama for the WTR Andretti and both Penske Porsches.
Aitken shared top honors with Alexander Sims and pole-sitter Pipo Derani, who combined to give Cadillac its first win in the new IMSA GTP era.
BMW, meanwhile, claimed its first podium in top-class WeatherTech Championship competition with Yelloly, Connor De Phillippi and Sheldon van der Linde.
NTT IndyCar Series star Scott McLaughlin claimed his first WeatherTech Championship victory in LMP2, steering Tower Motorsport’s Oreca 07 Gibson to top class honors.
The Kiwi held off the No. 11 TDS Racing Oreca of Mikkel Jensen for the class win, finishing third overall as a virtue of the late-race GTP drama.
McLaughlin and co-drivers John Farano and Kyffin Simpson rebounded from an Hour 7 accident that saw Silver-rated Simpson in the barriers with nose damage that initially set the Ricky Capone-led team behind.
Jaminet and co-drivers Nick Tandy and Dane Cameron were classified third in GTP and ninth overall despite the race-ending accident, ahead of the No. 10 and No. 7 GTP entries, which also failed to take the checkered flag.
The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura was sixth in class after dropping out of contention when its left-rear wheel came loose with Tom Blomqvist at the wheel with 1 hour and 45 minutes to go.
After controlling the opening half of the race, Chip Ganassi Racing’s charge ended with three hours to go with a fuel leak that led to a fire for Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 Cadillac, who was leading at the time.
The No. 24 BMW, meanwhile, also retired after a cooling system issue forced Augusto Farfus to stop on track in the seventh hour.
The LMP3 class win went to the No. 74 Riley Ligier JS P320 Nissan of Felipe Fraga, Gar Robinson and Josh Burdon.
Fraga, who took over the class lead following the second-to-last round of pit stops, had clear sailing to the end due to the No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier of Garett Grist slamming into Pietro Fittipaldi’s errant wheel that damaged the once-leading LMP3 contender.
The incident came with less than 90 minutes to go.
Fraga finished one laps ahead of the No. 13 AWA Duqueine D08 Nissan of Matt Bell, Orey Fidani and Lars Kern, which came home second.
RESULTS: 12H Sebring