A slow start for the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR couldn’t prevent it from rising to the top of the GT Le Mans class and taking the victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
- RESULTS: 2018 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
The winning car, shared by Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki, started the 12-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in eighth and advanced two positions by the end of the first hour.
Through the opening third of the race, it appeared that the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE was the car to beat. It finished both the second and third hours first in class and ran second at the conclusion of the fourth.
The Porsche made it to the front at the end of the fifth hour and remained in contention through to the checkered flag, completing only the 10th hour outside the top spot.
The No. 25 BMW M8 GTE of BMW Team RLL started from pole and was competitive but failed to match the race pace of its GTLM competitors. The car finished in the second position at the hands of Alexander Sims, denying co-driver Bill Auberlen the chance to add to his victory total in his quest to become the winningest driver in American sports car racing.
Despite losing its rear splitter and related bodywork after running off course in the ninth hour, the No. 912 Porsche shared by Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber and Gianmaria Bruni crossed the finish line in third place.
The No. 67 Ford GT, which led the first hour, was relegated to a fourth-place finish 11.7 seconds behind the Porsche while the No. 62 Ferrari completed the top five.
Corvette Racing had a trying day with the No. 4 finishing one lap down in sixth. The sister No. 3 had battery issues that necessitated a lengthy visit to the garage, dropping it out of contention. Although it was running at the finish, the No. 3 was 15 laps behind the class leader.
Contact between the No. 66 Ford and the No. 25 BMW affected both cars. The BMW lost laps due to a water leak and was later forced to retire having completed 296 laps while the Ford went to the garage before eventually retiring with 277 laps completed.
Paul Miller Lamborghini Wins GTD
Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis turned in a consistent performance in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 en route to the GT Daytona class victory.
At the conclusion of each of the race’s 12 hours, the only Lamborghini in the field was classified outside the top five only once and led the 10th, 11th and 12th hours.
The No. 63 WeatherTech-branded Ferrari 488 GT3, driven to the finish by Alessandro Balzan, took the checkers in the second position, 8.2 seconds behind the class winner.
Defending Sebring victor Riley Motorsports couldn’t repeat and instead settled for third with Jeroen Bleekemolen handling driving duties of the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the end of 12 hours.
Christopher Mies and Jack Hawksworth completed the GTD top five for Montaplast by Land-Motorsport and 3GT Racing, respectively.
Notably, a GTD car was involved in the most spectacular incident of the race when contact between the No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari and No. 52 AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 brought out the first yellow flag after just 20 minutes of green-flag racing.
The LMP2 car got loose in Turn 17, spinning into the Ferrari and launching it into the outside tire barrier where it landed on its roof. Although driver Frank Montecalvo walked away, the car was unable to continue due to structural damage to the roll cage.
GTLM will next see action April 14 on the streets of Long Beach when it joins the Prototype class for the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix. GTD will be back on track May 6 when the series visits the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.