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Sebring IMSA Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring…

Photo: Chris duMond/IMSA

***History was made in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with a new distance record achieved in the DPi era. Winners Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Neel Jani combined to complete 351 laps (1312.74 miles), two laps more than the previous record set last year.

***The all-time distance record from 2009 of 383 laps (1432.42 miles) still stands from Audi Sport Team Joest’s victory with Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello at the wheel of an Audi R15 TDI.

***Saturday’s win was the 61st career IMSA victory for Chip Ganassi Racing, while Jani and Bamber become first time overall Sebring winners. Lynn, meanwhile, is now two-for-two with triumphs in the famed Florida enduro after winning on his debut in 2017 with Wayne Taylor Racing.

***Porsche factory driver on-loan Jani, who was a last-minute sub for Kevin Magnussen, only had 30 laps in the No. 02 Cadillac DPi-V.R prior to the race. “Two weeks ago I didn’t know I would be here,” he said. “I’m hugely thankful to Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing to call me up and ask me to drive.”

***With the No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports and No. 31 Action Express entries finishing second and third, Cadillac swept the podium for the second time and won for the fourth time in the six 12-hour races in the event’s DPi era. Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe, Jordan Pepper and Ollie Millroy, meanwhile, are tied for the lead of the Endurance Cup GTD standings with the AF Corse trio of Toni Vilander, Simon Mann and Luis Perez Companc.

***JDC-Miller’s Richard Westbrook and Tristan Vautier take over the DPi points lead, ten points ahead of Wayne Taylor Racing drivers Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque heading into next month’s third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on the streets of Long Beach. 

***Westbrook, Vautier and third driver Loic Duval have also taken over the lead of the Michelin Endurance Cup standings, winning the second round of the four-race contest, which saw points paid t the four and eight-hour marks of the race, as well as the finish.

***Brake issues for the No. 48 Ally-sponsored Action Express Cadillac ultimately took it out of contention with two hours to go. Mike Rockenfeller, who was the only driver to practice and qualify the car due to Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez’s priority on the FIA World Endurance Championship race, said they had an issue earlier in the race with smoke coming out of the brakes.

***Stickers were placed on both Action Express Cadillacs honoring the memory of Michael Conway, driver Mike’s father, who passed away on Friday. “It would have been nice to win this one,” Conway said thinking of his dad. “It was hard, the first few stints, thinking of him out there. I was just trying to do him proud.”

***PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports earned its third consecutive Sebring LMP2 class win and back-to-back for Ben Keating and Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker taking his third straight, having teamed with Patrick Kelly and Simon Trummer to win in 2020.

***Porsche Carrera Cup North America presented by The Cayman Islands front-runner Parker Thompson served as a spotter for the LMP3 class-winning Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320 Nissan during the race.

***Corvette Racing claimed its 12th class victory in the 12-hour race and 13th at Sebring after taking top class honors in the July 2020 sprint race. Saturday’s win came after the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD received a 1 mm larger air restrictor, the equivalent of a 20 horsepower increase, prior to qualifying as a mid-event Balance of Performance adjustment.

***While all cars in DPi, LMP2, LMP3 and GTD passed post-race technical inspection, the results in. GTD Pro remains provisional pending “further data analysis” according to a statement from IMSA. 

***Contact between the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Jules Gounon and Aaron Telitz’s No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, which was running third at the time, saw the Proton Competition-run entry ultimately grab third in GTD Pro with two laps to go. “I had multiple contact with the Lexus at the end,” Gounon explained. “I talked with Cooper [MacNeil] before the race and I asked him what do we do if we are in contention, he said full send.”

***While MacNeil stood on the podium, he was nominated to score championship points in the season-long No. 79 Porsche 911 GT3 R, which finished sixth in class. 

***Telitz, meanwhile, ran out of fuel amid the battle, resulting in a seventh place finish in class. “We were in the top four or five all day and at the end there got in position for a podium and had a mega battle with the Mercedes for about ten laps and just ran out of fuel,” Telitz said. “It hurts, but those things happen, and we’ll bounce back from it.”

***The pair of BMW M Team RLL M4 GT3s had mixed fortunes, with the No. 24 entry of Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann and Nick Yelloly finishing fourth after encountering gearbox problems late in the race while the No. 25 BMW suffered a power steering issue, which resulted in a trip behind the wall in the second hour. 

***Pfaff Motorsports’ Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell still hold control in the GTD Pro points race after finishing fifth in what the Frenchman said was the “most we could achieve” amid stronger performances from Corvette, Lamborghini and BMW. Pfaff was the highest-placed Porsche in the GTD classes outright.

***Porsche 911 GT3 R project manager Sebastian Golz added: “We’re disappointed – obviously. Once again, our customer teams did a great job. Unfortunately, in today’s race, our car wasn’t as competitive as usual. We’ll take a good look at whether this was due to the high temperatures or the grip conditions on the track.”

***Series debutants Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR finished eighth in GTD Pro after running as high as sixth with its lineup of Ashton Harrison, Tom Long and Kyle Marcelli, who raced on Saturday despite suffering a massive accident in Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge round. Contact with the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche resulted in a spin for Harrison. 

***Bill Auberlen completed his 500th race in a BMW on Saturday, helping take the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 to a fourth place finish in the GTD class alongside co-drivers Robby Foley and Michael Dinan. The car was on track for a runner-up finish until Foley was put back into the car in the final hour due to drive-time issues if Auberlen had taken it to the end.

***A runner-up finish in class has propelled Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports into the GTD points lead with drivers Mike Skeen and Stevan McAleer. The duo shared its Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo on Saturday with factory driver Dani Juncadella.

***The Heart of Racing had a race to forget, with its GTD Pro class Aston Martin Vantage GT3 retiring with a brake issue after encountering engine problems from the third lap while the No. 27 car finished 15th in GTD after being delayed with an alternator issue in the third hour.

***The No. 16 Wright Porsche, which won the Rolex 24 in GTD, lost nearly 20 laps in the opening hour when class pole-sitter Zach Robichon took the car behind the wall with a left-front steering issue. The car returned to action to finish tenth in class.

***Other GTD cars to spend time in the garage included the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW, No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 (both contact) and No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes (power steering).

***David Cheng, who announced the return of Jackie Chan DC Racing for a planned WeatherTech Championship program next year, said he could be part of the team’s lineup but is focused on building the “brick and mortar team” first before determining the exact lineup. Cheng, whose team was most recently run by JOTA, said he’s open to similar partnerships but said they will have staff of their own based in the west coast.

***IMSA Radio’s John Hindhaugh and company completed a marathon weekend, broadcasting nearly every on-track session and each race at Sebring International Raceway, totaling 23 hours and 20 minutes of scheduled race time across the Twelve Hours of Sebring, 1000 Miles of Sebring WEC race, two-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge round and pair of 40-minute Carrera Cup races.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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