Corvette Racing has added a win in the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to its class victory in the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, in a surprise triumph after Porsche North America dominated the race in GT Le Mans.
Meanwhile Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing fought back from mid-race adversity to score its first GT Daytona class win, in absolutely dramatic fashion.
Corvette’s driving trio of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe are now two-for-two to open the season in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R.
In GTLM, there was little to choose between either of the factory Porsche 911 RSRs and the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR car. The three of them held down three of the top five positions for most of the race.
But the chance for a potential Porsche win, 1-2 finish or even podium sweep went away in the final hour-plus of the race.
Fred Makowiecki fell several laps off the pace by virtue of a disastrous last scheduled pit stop in the No. 912 Porsche, when the team couldn’t remove the lugnuts from the left rear tire. The No. 912 he shared with Earl Bamber and Joerg Bergmeister fell to seventh in class.
Things went from bad to worse when Nick Tandy, who was poised to take the win in the sister No. 911 Porsche after he and co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz led the majority of the second half of the race, slowed in the final hour with shifting problems.
Garcia took over the lead from the ailing Tandy on Lap 317, with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia able to move into second and the Falken car able to provide Porsche with third place.
Risi’s trio of Giancarlo Fisichella, Pierre Kaffer and Andrea Bertolini ran a consistent race with Fisichella able to move up from fourth to second on track in the 11th hour.
Patrick Long joined Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers in the Falken Porsche en route to third place.
Both cars needed a late splash of fuel while Garcia did not. The Spaniard won by an unrepresentative 59.463 seconds in class.
The GTLM podium – Corvette, Risi Ferrari and Falken Porsche – also matches the podium result in order from the 2013 Sebring race.
Lucas Luhr, John Edwards and Jens Klingmann were fourth in the first of the BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTEs, with Tandy able to limp the No. 911 Porsche home to fifth despite the shifting issue.
Elsewhere it was a fraught day for the No. 4 Corvette C7.R, which stopped on track at one point with a minor belt issue, then suffered further problems when the brake pedal return spring seized up.
The second BMW lost laps early due to a bent A arm on the right front, and the single Aston Martin Vantage GTE entered had its hopes end before they ever got going courtesy of a lost wheel in the second hour. The Aston soldiered onto the finish in sixth.
In GTD, drama in the last hour punctuated a race that saw eight of the 14 cars that started in with a shout, as they all stayed on the lead lap.
Both Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT Americas were the class of the field, along with the No. 33 TI Automotive/Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R, before the battle between them reached a crescendo in the final hour.
The No. 23 Team Seattle car fell back to sixth in the ninth hour when its rear bumper came loose, forcing an unscheduled pit stop.
The team took the bumper off and despite the loss of bodywork, the trio of Mario Farnbacher, Ian James and Alex Riberas pressed on and kept going, pace-wise.
By the 11th hour, Farnbacher had successfully caught then-leader James Davison in the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 for the lead. The German passed the Australian for the lead on the inside of Turn 13 on Lap 274.
However, with Jeroen Bleekemolen closing in the Viper and with Farnbacher hanging on for dear life in the final 10 minutes, Farnbacher ran off course at Turn 10 and lost the lead.
It appeared Bleekemolen was poised to take the win, but for cruel luck that struck in the final five minutes. He pitted the Viper with an engine issue, losing the lead and the win in one fell swoop. That handed the win back to the Team Seattle/AJR trio.
Farnbacher, James and Riberas have delivered team owner Alex Job his 10th Sebring win. Additionally, it marked the trio’s first win in the TUDOR Championship and first podium since coming second at Detroit last June. They also finished third at Sebring last year.
Davison ended up second in the No. 007 Aston Martin he shared with Christina Nielsen and Brandon Davis, with the car 8.837 seconds back of the Porsche. It was the first podium for TRG-AMR in TUDOR Championship competition.
Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler and Anthony Lazzaro put in a good drive in their No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia to end third, emerging from the late-race chaos to score a surprise podium finish.
The second Viper, the No. 93 car of Goossens, Keating, Al Carter and Cameron Lawrence finished fourth with the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS fifth, driven by Dion von Moltke, Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller.
Defending GTD class winners Magnus Racing crashed out in the sixth hour, but the crew worked to repair the car to ensure Andy Lally, John Potter and Marco Seefried hit the minimum drive time number in their No. 44 Porsche 911 GT America.
RESULTS: Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring