Pfaff Motorsports overcame qualifying misfortune to score the GT Daytona Class victory in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The Canadian squad’s lineup of Laurens Vanthoor, Lars Kern, and Zach Robichon qualified at the back of the 13-car class after ABS problems in their qualifying session but emerged as one of the prime contenders in the around-the-clock enduro.
Vanthoor moved the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R to the lead in the 11th hour when the race leading Lexus RC F GT3 of Zach Veach was forced to pit lane with a cut tire following contact with the Pfaff Porsche on the penultimate restart.
There was no penalty issued for the contact, after which Vanthoor ran unchallenged to the checkered flag, even with a final restart inside of 20 minutes to go.
The class pole-sitting Wright Motorsports Porsche of Jan Heylen, Patrick Long, and Trent Hindman followed the Pfaff car home second in class, 2.112 seconds down the road but it was anything but a straightforward run to the podium.
Heylen was penalized for changing lanes at the initial start of the race, and even an additional drive-through penalty for too many crew members over the wall on a restart was not enough to deny the defending GTD winners of the event another class podium.
The Heart of Racing Team scored a second consecutive class podium at Sebring in their No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with the crew of Ian James, Roman De Angelis, and Ross Gunn coming home in third.
Magnus Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 Evo and the No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche completed the top five in class.
Several early contenders fell by the wayside over the course of the race, most notably the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, and Corey Lewis which had spent much of the race at the front of the field.
Their strong effort came to a premature end due to gearbox issues with just under two and a half hours remaining.
It was also a day to forget for the Vasser Sullivan squad despite both Lexus RC F GT3 entries showing impressive pace.
The No. 14 overcame a lengthy brake rotor change during the first full course yellow of the race to run in podium contention only to see its day end due to contact between Jack Hawksworth and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 of Filipe Albuquerque in the ninth hour.
The sister No. 12 entry had cycled its way to the class lead in the eleventh hour but was taken out of contention when Zach Veach was hit from behind by Laurens Vanthoor in The Hairpin, cutting down a tire.
The No. 14 car was credited with a 7th place finish while the No. 12 soldiered home 6th.
The race’s final caution came with just over 30 minutes to go when the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo appeared to lose a wheel exiting Turn 17.
The car made contact with the pit wall with Maro Engel behind the wheel.
The crash ended his race and put an end to a remarkable comeback drive that had seen Engel and co-drivers Mikael Grenier and Kenny Habul claw back on to the lead lap from multiple laps down following ABS and traction control issues.
Turner Motorsport’s day effectively ended in the second hour when its BMW M6 GT3 went behind the wall for repairs, while the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and No. 19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini both retired due to crash damage after the two cars collided following brake issues for Franck Perera in the Lamborghini.
RESULTS: 12H Sebring