Action Express Cadillac Re-takes Control After Eight Hours In Sebring
Four hours remain in the 71st annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and there is still a Cadillac V-Series.R that leads the race overall. But now, it’s Action Express Racing’s #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac of Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims, and Jack Aitken that is up at the front.
Polesitter Derani, who was involved in an incident with an LMP3 car earlier in the race, is now leading after repairs, a determined drive from Sims and Aitken, and a perfectly-executed pit stop that’s put them ahead of everyone else. Matt Campbell is now second in the #7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963, keeping Porsche in the lead fight.
Sebastien Bourdais is third in the golden yellow #01 Cadillac Racing entry, holding on through a titanic scrap fellow IndyCar luminary Helio Castroneves in the #60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura in fourth. Mathieu Jaminet in the #6 Porsche is fifth after a bizarre Safety Car incident that wasn’t their fault, and Connor de Philippi in the sole surviving #25 BMW M Team RLL Hybrid V8 is sixth.
Ricky Taylor is seventh in the #10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, but running off-sequence with the leaders after a pit lane speeding penalty.
The mid-day hours were blanketed with sunshine – and the punishing Central Florida heat that accompanied it, even before the official start of Spring. At that time, everything was going so well for the #01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R. Scott Dixon had just gotten out of the cockpit to let Renger van der Zande have his first stint. Even when the Dutchman locked up and went off into Cunningham Corner (turn ten), he was still able to not only maintain his lead but extend it to over 50 seconds.
Making his job easier, Louis Delétraz was struggling to find his rhythm in the #10 Acura and rapidly fell into the clutches of Aitken. From a deficit of nine seconds, Aitken caught his old Formula 2 classmate and overtook him for second place.
Just as Delétraz came into the pits for a needed full-service stop, François Heriau spun and crashed into the tyre barriers in his #35 TDS Racing Oreca LMP2 07. The Full Course Yellow came out just before the #10 Acura went into the pit entry – a blessing for the Konica Minolta crew! Albuquerque got aboard the #10 Acura and would take the lead from Van der Zande, who must have been beside himself after surrendering a one-minute lead and dropping to second place!
The race reached half-distance, and dark clouds had already begun to appear from the west. Sebring’s jagged surface began to cool a bit. Shortly after the halfway mark, young Kyffin Simpson made a rare error – he dipped two wheels off at the exit of turn one and crashed at turn one, bringing out another Full Course Yellow.
This happened just as Augusto Farfus began to crawl slowly out of the Hairpin and through Fangio Bend. There was a serious problem with the #24 BMW M Hybrid V8, and he brought it back into pit lane. It would turn out to be a terminal drivetrain issue that caused the first GTP retirement of the race, after six hours and nine minutes. Not a nice way to end what looked like a promising day for the crew of Farfus, Philipp Eng, and Marco Wittmann.
Robert Mau was already having a rough weekend in the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320. He brought out a Full Course Yellow just before the completion of seven hours. Inexplicably, Mau ran into the back of the third-placed #6 Porsche of Dane Cameron during a Safety Car wave-by. Cameron never deviated from his line and had a massive chunk of his rear bodywork ripped away for his efforts.
Derani took the overall lead after the ensuing round of pit stops. Ironically, the #31 Cadillac – the pole-winning car that was knocked out of the lead fight when Mau spun in front of Derani – was now leading the race once more because of a caution caused by the very same driver that disrupted their race five hours earlier!
No sooner did the green flag fly did the yellow come out again. Ashton Harrison in the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 crashed into the back of the #12 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Harrison caught the wrong end of a stack-up in the GTD field: She brought her red Acura back behind the wall while debris from the collision brought out the Safety Car again.
The #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and the #57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 were having a cracking battle for the GTD class lead, with Zach Robichon in the #16 and Philip Ellis in the #57 trading the lead. But it was spoiled with just ten minutes until the top of the last hour when the two GTD leaders made contact – Robichon was pitched into a spin and hit the tyre barriers, and Ellis spun two corners later due to severe damage at the right front suspension!
This has brought out the latest Full Course Yellow.
And after that contact, the #1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 is now leading. After a woeful Daytona 24 Hours for the BMW customer racing fleet, Madison Snow now has one of the M4s in the lead – but it is not going to be an easy task to hold on if the words of Bryan Sellers are to go by.
Sellers told IMSA Radio that the car is having chronic brake issues that are a pain point for the M4 GT3 and said they may need to change brake callipers.
The #44 Magnus Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Andy Lally has taken second place, followed by the #32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes of Kenton Koch in third. The #32 Mercedes recovered after a penalty for violating the minimum full refuelling time, a component that is being more strictly enforced today.
Besides the #93 Racers Edge NSX that is behind the wall, the only official GTD retirement is the #023 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 which had an alternator problem earlier in the race.
GTD Pro has been dominated since the second hour by the #3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD and the #79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Tommy Milner in the Corvette and Maro Engel in the WeatherTech Mercedes were running tail-to-nose for the GTD Pro lead on the last Safety Car restart. When this most recent FCY was called, Milner was still holding Engel at bay by around two seconds.
Davide Rigon was running a cool, collected third in the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari.
Laurens Vanthoor had just come out of the pits in the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R which is still very much a factor for the win in GTD Pro after all of the dramas that they suffered individually, and with the BoP wrangling between IMSA and the Porsche customer teams! So too has the #14 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3 which has Ben Barnicoat at the wheel.
CrowdStrike Racing by APR is running out front in the LMP2 class. George Kurtz has done his compulsory three hours at the wheel of his #04 Oreca LMP2 07, leaving the rest of the race in the hands of Nolan Siegel and Ben Hanley to try and close out the victory.
The #35 TDS Racing Oreca retired after Heriau’s shunt earlier in the race – the only LMP2 retirement so far. TDS Racing’s #11 is also not presently a factor after a number of pit lane penalties.
Pro drivers are now in starring roles at the front of LMP2. Ed Jones has brought the #20 High Class Racing Oreca back up to second place, after overtaking the #8 Tower Motorsports Oreca of Scott McLaughlin.
Remarkably, the damage inflicted to the Tower Motorsports Oreca from Simpson’s crash was almost entirely cosmetic, and they avoided losing a lap in repairs!
Down in LMP3, the orange and blue #74 Riley Ligier JS P320 is now running in first place with Felipe Fraga aboard.
In second is the #30 Jr III Motorsports Ligier of Garett Grist, and in third is the #36 Andretti Autosport Ligier of Glenn van Berlo in third. Best of the Duquiene D08s is the #13 AWA Duquiene of Matthew Bell in fourth.
A wiring loom issue has put the #33 Sean Creech Motorsports Ligier down 27 laps, but they are still in the race trying to make the chequered flag.The post Action Express Cadillac Re-takes Control After Eight Hours In Sebring first appeared on dailysportscar.com.