David Heinemeier Hansson has declared that he will not take part in next weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, should it move forward as planned, out of concerns over the growing coronavirus pandemic.
The Silver-rated Dane is the first driver to publicly declare his withdrawal from the ‘Super Sebring’ event, which is still scheduled to take part next week, as confirmed by the FIA World Endurance Championship earlier today.
It comes amid news that WEC entrant Cetilar Racing pulled out of the 1000 Miles of Sebring.
Declared by the World Health Organization as a pandemic on Wednesday, Heinemeier Hansson has voiced has been outspoken on social media over the potential health concerns associated by still staging the event, which is expected to attract more than 100,000 spectators.
As of Wednesday, there has been no restrictions by the state of Florida in terms of holding public events, with the NTT IndyCar Series season-opener at St. Pete set to go ahead as planned.
“If Sebring actually does proceed – and at this point I don’t believe it will – I wish all competitors a safe week,” Heinemeier Hansson wrote on Twitter.
“I will not be driving the Tower Motorsports P2 car in the 12H race as otherwise planned. It’s [heart-breaking] but continuing with this event is grossly irresponsible, so I’m out.”
Heinemeier Hansson was due to share the wheel of the Starworks Motorsport-run entry with Ryan Dalziel and John Farano.
His decision to pull out of the event comes on the heels of the NCCA banning spectators at all of the ‘March Madness’ college basketball games this month.
“Just have a look at the actions taken by world governments and sporting bodies today alone,” Heinemeier Hansson also wrote. “Then think: How likely is it that a motor race gathering of 150,000+ people is going to happen in 10 days?”
As has been the case since the outbreak hit the U.S., officials from IMSA and NASCAR are “closely monitoring” the developments and have created a special task force that meets regularly to discuss developments.
Team owner Peter Baron told Sportscar365 they are currently evaluating options for Sebring, including discussing a potential replacement driver for the Dane.
“We have two drivers committed to attending and will take all the necessary precautionary measures at the event,” Baron said.
“David is doing what is best for him and his family and we respect his decision.
“He has been working with us to ensure we have solid driver options for us to continue. We understand the coronavirus is quite serious and are not treating this lightly.”
IMSA: No Planned Schedule Changes for Sebring
Shortly after Heinemeier Hansson’s statement on Twitter, IMSA released a statement reiterating that the Sebring event is still on schedule.
“Upon guidance and counsel from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) plus federal, state and local health agencies and our medical experts, there are no planned schedule changes for next week’s SuperSebring event,” the statement read.
“IMSA, along with Sebring International Raceway, will continue to analyze and implement recommendations from these agencies and take precautionary operational steps to protect the health of all involved during the event.
“We are asking fans, employees, competitors and partners to continue to follow best practice precautions as recommended by the CDC, such as frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and covering coughs and sneezes appropriately.
“We understand this situation is of great concern to everyone involved and we will communicate updates as necessary.”