Scott Dixon admitted it was “pretty frustrating” to lose out on a potential win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring after colliding with a GT Le Mans class car in the closing stages of the race.
Dixon, whose No. 01 Cadillac DPi-V.R was the class of the field for much of the 12-hour contest, was knocked out of the lead when the Kiwi and the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE of Connor De Phillippi made contact when Dixon was attempting to enter pit lane.
The incident caused right-side damage to the DPi contender, put them two laps down and relegated he and co-drivers Renger van der Zande and Kevin Magnussen to a fifth place finish.
It came after leading a race-high 115 laps of the 349-lap enduro.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” Dixon said. “I’m not sure how – I know I hit the BMW on entry.
“It was a very late call for the pits, so I was scrambling to get everything undone in time.
“I was trying to turn back to get to pit road and there was just a car there and so I hit them on the way in. That was definitely a tough one there.
“I feel bad for the team because everyone was doing a fantastic job and the car was fast.
“Credit to everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing. It’s definitely unfortunate, but we had a good run there.”
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) March 21, 2021
Van der Zande got around pole-sitter Pipo Derani for the lead early before the two made contact while in traffic that resulted in a broken steering rack for the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac and a furious Derani and team.
The Dutchman, however, got back into the lead following a round of pit stops in the fifth hour and bridged out to a more than 30-second gap until a full-course caution some two hour later.
The contact marked CGR’s second late-race misfortune in as many races with the program after a puncture in the final laps of the Rolex 24 at Daytona having denied Van der Zande a chance of victory after running a close second at the time.
Derani: “It Was a Difficult Day”
It was a race to forget for fellow Cadillac squad Action Express Racing, with the No. 31 car ultimately retiring due to gearbox failure with less than two hours to go.
The No. 31 car battled through two on-track incidents, including a clash between Felipe Nasr and eventual race winner Tristan Vautier in Turn 1 that resulted in a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility to the Brazilian.
The car then stopped on track with co-driver Mike Conway at the wheel with 1 hour and 54 minutes left on the clock, which brought out the race’s second-to-final full course caution.
“It was a tough one today,” Derani said. “What can I say?
“We had a difficult beginning. We fought back. Then, there was another incident.
“And then, unfortunately, we had a problem with the car. It was a difficult day. We’re going to have to regroup and come back stronger as a team in the next race.”