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Sebring IMSA Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Action Express Racing’s dominant run in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring was evident by its two Cadillac DPi-V.Rs combining to lead 318 of the 348 laps, including a race-high 249 for the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing entry.

***With just 1.030 seconds separating Felipe Nasr from Jordan Taylor at the line, it was the closest finish in Sebring history. The previous record was set in 2016 at 2.926 seconds, in a race also won by Pipo Derani.

***In addition to matching Phil Hill’s record of three wins in four years, Derani now has the same number of overall Sebring wins as Mario Andretti, Olivier Gendebien, Hans Stuck and Marco Werner. Only Tom Kristensen (6), Dindo Capello (5), Frank Biela and Allan McNish (4) have more.

***Derani said that the Cadillac DPis were “killing it” in the rain, with the Dallara-chassied prototypes sweeping the top-five positions early on in the race. “We were just in another league, and that’s because Cadillac did an amazing job developing this car,” he told Sportscar365.

***The pair of Team Penske Acura ARX-05s, meanwhile, struggled in the wet, with electrical issues for the No. 6 car of Dane Cameron resulting in a 9th place finish after a steering wheel change, pit lane speeding penalty and further unscheduled stops due to the gremlins.

***A spin by Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Penske Acura DPi caused an unscheduled stop after his seat belts came loose in the second hour. Taylor and co-drivers Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi, however, made a late charge to finish fourth.

***Juncos Racing had another difficult race, with multiple issues for its No. 50 Cadillac DPi, which began in Hour 2 when a piece of debris cut the alternator belt and forced Rene Binder to the garage. 

***Porsche claimed class victories in three of the four classes entered between Friday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round and the Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, with the factory Manthey and CORE autosport-run operations claiming top class honors in GTE-Pro (WEC) and GTLM (IMSA) and Dempsey Proton Racing picking up the GTE-Am win (WEC).

***It could have potentially been a clean sweep for the German manufacturer if for not ABS and traction control issues for the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, which took the Canadian squad out of the class lead when it was forced to change a wheel speed sensor in the 10th hour. 

***Scott Hargrove, Zach Robichon and Lars Kern recovered to record a 10th place class finish, behind the best-placed GTD class Porsche of Park Place Motorsports in fifth, which battled a misfire and fuel cell issue.

***Twenty two of the 25 Porsche-contracted drivers were in action over the weekend, with all but Neel Jani at the wheel of Porsche machinery across the various series.

***The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller claimed a third place finish in GT Le Mans, capping off a busy weekend for the three drivers and some of its crew, who pulled double duty between the 12-hour and 1000-mile races.

***Remarkably, the same over-the-wall crew of Brandon Wolff, Tom Dix, Mackenzie O’Brien, Ian Burke and Steve Longhi completed pit stops in the two races, with team leaders Ben Johnson, Steve Cole, Kyle Millay, Dan Binks, Rich Eldred and Alex Robarge also assisting both programs. 

***Garcia, Magnussen and Rockenfeller combined to complete 621 laps for 2,322.54 miles over the course of the weekend between the Nos. 3 and 63 Corvettes.

***The No. 4 Corvette lost time in Saturday’s race with an electrical issue, forcing alternator repairs in the third hour. It was only one of two cars in GTLM to not finish on the lead lap.

***Andy Lally said he “couldn’t give anybody an inch” on the final restart, which resulted in contact between his No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo and Ryan Briscoe’s No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, that dashed hopes of class victory for the Australian. “If it ruined the GTLM race, and we got a chance to go to victory, then great,” Lally told Sportscar365 post-race.

***A drive-through penalty for running over pit equipment on its final stop relegated the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo to a 7th place finish in GTD. It came after a strong start by class pole-sitter Trent Hindman, who bridged out an 80-second lead and helped keep the car out front for 60 laps.

***Cameron Cassels drove with three broken ribs to the LMP2 class victory in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson he shared with Kyle Masson and Andrew Evans.

***The race saw only three retirements, all of which were GTD runners: Turner Motorsport’s BMW M6 GT3 (suspension), the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 (mechanical) and the Moorespeed Audi R8 LMS Evo (accident).

***In a bizarre twist, BMW Team RLL’s Endurance Cup driver Philipp Eng now leads the GTLM drivers standings solo, after switching from the Rolex 24 at Daytona class-winning No. 25 BMW M8 GTE lineup to the No. 24 car for Sebring, which finished fourth in class.

***Eng, who is not slated to contest the full season, holds a two-point margin over the Porsche trio of Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki in second.

***A similar situation has developed in GTD, with Grasser Racing Team’s Mirko Bortolotti, Rik Breukers and Rolf Ineichen holding a 16-point lead over AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Townsend Bell, Frankie Montecalvo and Aaron Telitz. Grasser is currently only confirmed to contest the Endurance Cup races.

***The Austrian squad faces a clash between the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe round at Misano, with Bortolotti currently committed for the full Blancpain GT season. Team principal Gottfried Grasser, however, revealed ambitions of entering the full season in 2020, having praised the IMSA organization: “It’s so nice to be here. It’s so well organized,” he told Sportscar365.

***Michelin-shod teams combined to complete 30,803 laps, or more than 127,234 miles over the course of the weekend, which included the WEC, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge series. All but three cars, out of the 140 entered, ran on Michelins.

***A large part of Sebring was affected by a power failure on Saturday morning prior to the race. While the blackout didn’t reach the circuit, some 17,000 people reportedly were left without electricity for about 30 minutes in town. This also included the guests in various hotels along the US 27 in Sebring, where numerous members of the WEC and IMSA race community were staying

***IMSA President Scott Atherton told Sportscar365 that the Mid-Ohio round does not currently pose an issue with an oversubscribed entry, although he said to expect a “full house” of upwards of 40 cars in the debut race of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup.

***The Detroit race, which will pay GT Daytona class points to Sprint Cup-only competitors, meanwhile, is expected to see the majority of the full-season WeatherTech Championship grid. “I think it would be the exception that they won’t be there, at least that’s the impression they’ve given us,” Atherton said.

***Its understood Riley Motorsports will forgo Detroit, with Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen set to focus on the Le Mans Test Day that weekend, where they will be at the wheel of the first-ever Ford GT customer car.

Jake Kilshaw & Rene de Boer contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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