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ESM on Top at Eight-Hour Mark

Two-thirds of the 2014 Sebring 12 Hours are in the books…

Photo: Darren Pierson

Photo: Darren Pierson

At the eight-hour mark, Johannes van Overbeek is leading overall and in Prototypes aboard the No. 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b at the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, as the race has begun to settle into a rhythm following a caution-filled first six hours.

A series of either current or former open-wheel stars – Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Dalziel and Christian Fittipaldi – were among the lead drivers battling for the overall lead.

ESM’s pair of P2-spec HPDs have been consistently on the pace and close to, if not exceeding, times set by the Corvette and Ford EcoBoost Riley DPs.

Dalziel led at the halfway mark and his teammate, Pagenaud, had the lead by the seven-hour mark.

“It’s getting better with the rubber coming down on the track with the Continental tires,” Pagenaud said after his stint. “I got in a really good rhythm. One of those sweet moments in racing when you get in a bubble. Traffic was getting easier because there are so many DNFs.”

Other leaders at the seven-hour mark included the No. 09 RSR Racing Oreca FLM09 (PC), No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R (GTLM), despite several minor incidents throughout the race, and the No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD).

Come the eight-hour mark, the second batch of Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup points for this race were awarded. Leaders at the eight-hour mark besides the overall leaders include the No. 4 Corvette C7.R (GTLM), No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 (PC) and No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 (GTD).

One of the few prototype cars to hit trouble in this sequence was Action Express Racing’s No. 9 Corvette DP, although not for anything car-related. Brian Frisselle’s illness after his first stint meant he’s been ruled out the remainder of the race, leaving the car to just brother Burt Frisselle and Jon Fogarty.

Meanwhile several cars in both the GTLM and GTD cars have had issues over the last couple hours. The No. 91 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R, driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay, had a spin in Turn 17 and backed into the tire barrier. That broke the car’s diffuser, rear wing and bumper.

Later on, three GTD class Porsche 911 GT Americas and a solitary Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS had additional woes. GB Autosport’s Damien Faulkner in the No. 81 Porsche had two flat left rear tires; Rum Bum/Snow Racing’s Madison Snow in the No. 13 Porsche had a fuel pressure alarm go off, and the Magnus Racing No. 44 Porsche driven by Andy Lally made a pit stop to fix an air compressor on the car’s paddle shift system.

Flying Lizard’s No. 45 car had multiple punctures, two of which were related to contact.

Near the eight-hour mark, Michael Christensen in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR contacted Paolo Ruberti in the No. 49 Spirit of Race Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 at Turn 7. However, Christensen was not assessed a penalty.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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