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Tequila Patron ESM Takes Sebring Win

Tequila Patron ESM claims second 12H Sebring win in three years…

Photo: MPS Agency

Tequila Patron ESM scored its second Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victory in the last three years, with a controlling late-race drive by Pipo Derani in Saturday’s race.

The Brazilian took his No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi to a 12.427-second win over the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Renger van der Zande, who was unable to match Derani’s pace in the closing hours.

The race featured 11 full course cautions and ran green for the final 1 hour and 13 minutes.

It marked the team, Derani and co-driver Johannes van Overbeek’s second Sebring win in the last three years and also the second career for Nico Lapierre, who claimed overall honors in 2011 in a Team ORECA Peugeot 908.

Van der Zande brought his Cadillac DPi home in second, after multiple top-offs for water amid overheating concerns, ahead of the No. 31 Action Express Racing entry of Felipe Nasr, which faded in the final laps. 

A late fuel-only stop for the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson of Paul Di Resta dropped the Anglo-American team to a 5th place finish overall, promoting Romain Dumas fourth, and the highest-placed LMP2 car in the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca 07 Gibson.

Mazda, which enjoyed its most competitive race yet in Prototype competition, faced late-race misfortune yet again, with a dead battery triggered by persistent clutch issues derailing Harry Tincknell’s race in the final hour.

The Englishman struggled to re-fire the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P in the final round of pit stops with 41 minutes to go, losing a lap and dropping from 2nd to 6th.

It came after an impressive race-leading run for the Mazda Team Joest operation.

Mazda’s No. 77 entry came home in 8th after a brake change early, finishing behind the No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca.

Battery issues for Tristan Nunez saw a late-race unscheduled stop for the No. 77 Mazda as well.

The No. 85 JDC-Miller Oreca was ninth, ahead of the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi, which came home 16th overall after losing more than 20 minutes in the 8th hour.

Joao Barbosa collided with the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca of James French in Turn 17, sending the Rolex 24 at Daytona-winning entry behind the wall for extensive left-front repairs.

A violent crash for Tristan Vautier, also in the final corner but at night, meanwhile, knocked the pole-sitting No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi out with less than two hours to go.

Both of the Team Penske Acura ARX-05s also failed to finish after showing impressive pace early.

Ricky Taylor dropped out just past the halfway mark with a sudden loss of oil pressure, while the No. 6 Acura of Juan Pablo Montoya lost drive less than one hour later.

Montoya was tagged by Vautier that sent the Colombian into a spin moments before crawling to a halt on track.

ESM’s No. 2 Nissan DPi was the race’s first retirement with gearbox failure, also following contact with Vautier.

RESULTS: Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring

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 Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Johannes275

    March 17, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    What an amazing race this was. Great racing, truly fantastic action, wild drama throughout the race, and well-deserved winners.

  2. Jorden

    March 17, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Agonizingly close for the Mazda. Congrats to ESM.

  3. John

    March 17, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    Wayne Taylor dropping F-bombs on live TV! LOL.

    Happy to see Mazda making progress, which is good for the entire sport. I hope they’ll get all the pieces in place to challenge consistently. And on this day, they outlasted even the might Penskes.

    Can’t beat endurance racing.

    • MattZ

      March 18, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      That was incredible! It was hilarious, but at the same time, I thought Wayne knew better.

      Still, listening to his drivers, who could see victory, but couldn’t get there, to hear such a dramatically different point of view from their owner was pretty cool.

  4. Pierre

    March 17, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Gotta feel for the no55 and Mazda group. That was their race.

  5. daedalus

    March 17, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Very good race, feel sorry for the 55 Mazda they were so close to getting a result. The ESM team deserved a result after issues at daytona and they stayed out of trouble so they deserved the win. All the LMP2s fastest laps were a second off the DPIs, not sure United Autosports will turn up next year if it happens again at the Glen and Petit lemans.

    The two GT classes were a toss up, super close racing, Bryan Sellers pass around turn one for the GTD lead was superb and the GTLM Porsche were super consistent. Both deserved the win, can’t wait for long beach.

    • Max

      March 18, 2018 at 12:18 am

      There’s going to be some fairly aggressive BoP for DPIs for the next round I’m sure.

  6. Travis McBee

    March 17, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Glad to see ESM win again, gutted for Mazda though, so close. I wonder what would’ve happened if Rebellion was in this one.

  7. GimmeShelter

    March 17, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Cruel race for the Mazdas; nice wins for both Porsche and Lambo

  8. Jeremy

    March 18, 2018 at 1:18 am

    By the 10th hour , after holding my breath I exhausted an exhale and truly felt the Mazda’s had found reliability and their pace was incredible towards the end of the stint , not too mention the fact they were stretching two laps more on fuel! . Absolutely gutted for the 55 but the writing is on the wall, they will no longer be the back marker to the rest of the field. As for the Penske Acura’s , was quite surprised ! Sebring does not disappoint !

    • Michael Waldron

      March 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Beautiful comments.

  9. JG

    March 18, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Mazda managed to pull off the fastest race lap. Yes!

  10. Jessie

    March 18, 2018 at 6:09 am

    Great result for CORE again

    • Jeff Braun

      March 19, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks we keep plugging away. Nothing fancy, heads down and grinding.

  11. David Chaste

    March 18, 2018 at 9:47 am

    With Penske in the mix it’s not hard to believe that the other Dpi makers would have upped the developement ante to stay in the mix. So even if the dpi’s have 100 horsepower less than the gibson engines, they would still lap quicker than the spec prototypes because of their other components which are far more developped.

  12. Kurt

    March 18, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Fantastic race! The Mazda story unfortunately is no different from 2016…fastest laps, leading multiple races with an hour to go. Hope this year is different but there’s still an AER in there. Great job by United and Core as well.

    • Steven

      March 18, 2018 at 11:34 am

      Di Resta had some choice words for IMSA about the BoP. Which of course was 100% spot on, saying it was a “embarrassing waste of time” knowing that the DPi’s were a full 1+ seconds/lap faster than the cost-capped LMP2 which is what the DPi is suppose to be BoP’ed too.

      I don’t see any European teams showing up anymore for IMSA races unless they are certain the LMP2’s have an equal fight in winning like they are suppose to be.

  13. Av

    March 18, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Congratulations to Mazda Team Joest for an outstanding performance.

    • AJ

      March 18, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      I wouldn’t call 6th and 8th an outstanding performance, especially considering the attrition.

  14. Jenner

    March 18, 2018 at 11:43 am

    11 Full course cautions? With the PC class now gone, looks like the Pro drivers aren’t any better.

    IMSA should also consider seperating the P class into two. Dpi and P2, only fair. If not, then ACO should just put dpi into P1 class at LeMans. Don’t like it, too bad, quit your bitching.

    • Andres

      March 18, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      The incidents were in the majority from the LMP2 cars, from its amateur drivers

  15. Burlusa

    March 18, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Boo hoo United Autosports .. next time show up with better drivers and the right car .. or just stay in ELMS and be the big dog again ..

    • AJ

      March 18, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      It’s not just United, the whole LMP2 field was significantly slower.

  16. speedy

    March 18, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    What happen if a top factory team get’s into a lmp2 car, and these other lmp2 team’s can’t run with these top factory lmp2 car, then what are people going to say?

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