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Sebring Post-Race Notebook

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

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

***Acura made history on Saturday in becoming only the second OEM to win two manufacturers’ championships in the same year in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with the luxury brand taking the DPi and GT Daytona class titles, courtesy of Acura Team Penske and Meyer Shank Racing, which also won its respective drivers’ and teams’ championships.

***While winning by eight points over Porsche in GTD, Acura netted the DPi title by a single point, thanks to Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud’s second place finish in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. It marked Acura’s second consecutive DPi title and first in the GTD ranks.

***Mario Farnbacher earned his second consecutive GTD drivers’ championship while Matt McMurry has become the first driver to win back-to-back WeatherTech Championship titles in different classes after his LMP2 championship last year.

***Chevrolet clinched the GT Le Mans manufacturers title after the pair of Corvette C8.Rs took the start of the race. It marked Chevy’s 13th manufacturer title in IMSA GT competition since 2001.

***Ricky Taylor, who along with Helio Castroneves claimed the DPi drivers’ title in an up-and-down race, dedicated the day to Jim Pace, who passed away last Friday due to COVID-19. Pace had been a longtime family friend of the Taylor’s, with father Wayne having scored victories in the 1996 Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring alongside Jim as a co-driver.

“I don’t think Jim Pace knew but he had a big impact on my learning as a driver, especially here in Sebring, he was in my racing schools when I first started driving cars,” Ricky Taylor said. “To hear of his passing was really hard for the whole Taylor family.”

***Taylor and Castroneves won the DPi title by just a single point, thanks to team orders employed in the penultimate round of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca when Team Penske’s No. 6 Acura ARX-05 of Dane Cameron was ordered to let Taylor by for the win, which gave them a three-point swing at the time.

***Harry Tincknell, who helped give Mazda a breakthrough first endurance win with the RT24-P, credited co-driver Ryan Hunter-Reay for helping put the Multimatic-run operation in contention for the win. “I went for a massage and we were P5. By the time I finished the massage Ryan got us up to P2. It set us up well for the end.”

***The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis was moved to the rear of the GTD results due to a drive-time infraction that saw Lewis exceed four hours of drive time in a six-hour period.

***While having initially finished eighth in class, it did not affect their championship in the Michelin Endurance Cup, which was still won by a fair margin over the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 duo of Cooper MacNeil and Jeff Westphal.

***Other Endurance Cup champions included Wayne Taylor Racing’s van der Zande and Briscoe (DPi), the BMW Team RLL pairing of Jesse Krohn and John Edwards (GTLM) and Simon Trummer for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2).

***Lamborghini had previously locked up the GTD Endurance Cup manufacturers’ title, while Cadillac (DPi) and BMW (GTLM) took their respective championships on Saturday.

***The top three finishers in the season-long LMP2 drivers’ championship all came from the same car at PR1/Mathiasen. Class champion Patrick Kelly ended the year on 196 points with Trummer at 161 and the team’s Endurance Cup driver Scott Huffaker, who only took part in three races, ending up with 98 points.

***Kelly, who won this year’s Trueman Award, confirmed plans to take up the auto-invite to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in LMP2, likely with a European team in partnership with the Bobby Oergel-led PR1 squad. He expects to also contest one or two ELMS/WEC rounds prior to Le Mans in order to “not go completely blind” into what would be his debut in the French endurance classic.

***Ryan Hardwick, meanwhile, won the Akin Award for the highest-placed amateur driver in the GTD class. 

***Porsche scored its first double class victory since Lime Rock 2017, courtesy of the No. 911 Porsche RSR-19 of Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki and Earl Bamber and the GTD class No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, which completed the majority of the race with a broken left-rear shock.

***Pascal Zurlinden, Porsche’s factory motorsport director said Saturday’s result was “no better way” to wrap up its factory IMSA GTLM program. “It was an incredibly successful day for Porsche Motorsport,” he said.

***Multiple issues in the race for the No. 4 Corvette of Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler and Oliver Gavin, in his final outing as a full-season driver, saw BMW Team RLL’s John Edwards and Jesse Krohn leapfrog to finish second in the GTLM championship standings.

***Both Corvettes had suspension failures, with a water leak for Gavin’s car accidentally having taken out both of the GTD title-contending AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 cars from contention prior to a trip behind the wall just past the halfway mark for suspension damage.

***Newly crowned class champion Antonio Garcia encountered the same suspension issue to his No. 3 Corvette with less than three hours to go, also necessitating a visit to the garage, taking he, co-champion Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg out of the hunt after running second at the time.

***Gavin received many accolades on Saturday including framed artwork from IMSA President John Doonan depicting his first and last race car driven in series competition as well as a message printed on the Turn 16 bridge by Sebring International Raceway.

***While officially stepping down from full-time competition, Sportscar365 understands that Gavin will not have seat in the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup lineup next year, meaning Saturday’s race could have been his final with Corvette altogether.

***Jordan Taylor ventured into the fan zone on Friday wearing a homemade space suit to meet with the public for the first time since January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. 

***IMSA’s ‘Night of Champions’ was held immediately following the conclusion of post-race technical inspection inside the Sebring Hall of Fame building and saw awards dished out in rapid fashion in a casual environment.

***The majority of the season was completed in just 147 days, following the nearly four-month downtime due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. That compares to the 2019 season which was contest over the more traditional 284 days.

***Three new qualifying and race lap records were set over the weekend, with GTLM qualifying and race laps by the No. 3 Corvette, set by Garcia and Catsburg, respecigely, and the GS race lap by Robin Liddell in the No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.

***It has brought Michelin up to 130 lap records since 2019. Teams and drivers set 40 new records this season alone.

***Fourteen of the 17 manufacturers in IMSA won at least one race between the WeatherTech Championship and Michelin Pilot Challenge this year.

***The fourth and final round of this year’s HPD GT3 Academy is due to take place at Sebring on Monday and Tuesday, which will see Taylor Hagler, Jacob Abel, Karl Wittmer and Dakota Dickerson return to the wheel of a Racers Edge Motorsports-prepared Acura NSX GT3 Evo in the driver development program.

***Newly named Hendrick Motorsports’ Vice President of Competition Chad Knaus experienced his first Twelve Hours of Sebring as a guest of Cadillac. “It’s great for me to be part of the Cadillac team here, observing and watching,” he told NBC Sports’ Kelli Stavast.

***Knaus, the former crew chief of NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson, is understood to have been at Sebring for reconnaissance on a possible joint effort between Hendrick and Action Express Racing in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona that will feature Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott as part of the lineup.

***Chip Ganassi Racing’s planned Cadillac DPi effort for next year has gained significant interest from currently unemployed drivers in the paddock, with multiple drivers having been in discussions with the team for next year. It’s understood a decision on the lineup has not yet been made.

***Wayne Taylor has insisted he has only one driver currently signed for the 2021 season despite reports, including from Sportscar365, indicating its full lineup. “I’ve read stuff from others and it’s very strange because I only actually have one driver signed,” Taylor told Sportscar365.

Ryan Myrehn 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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