Mazda wins 12 Hours of Sebring as Roman De Angelis gets GTD podium
BAD LUCK FOR AIM VASSER SULLIVAN IN THE EARLY STAGES AND FINALLY A CHAMPIONSHIP FOR CASTRONEVES
The 68th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts was to take place back in March. With all that has happened this year, IMSA has done great work in making sure to re-schedule this mythic race. And as a final meeting for the 2020 season, where championships were on the line, it did not disappoint that’s for certain.
Sebring, well known for its bumpy surface, has once again put the cars and drivers to the test. The top contenders in Dpi had there share of unforseen issues and penalties early on as Championship leader #7 Acura Team Penske of Ricky Taylor/Helio Castroneves/Alex Rossi were faced with a turbo failure and had to retrieve to their trailer to proceed to changing the component. The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta of Ranger van der Zande/Ryan Briscoe/Scott Dixon also ran in to trouble a couple of times during the race as they were penalized at the start of the race for passing before the start line as the green flag was waved and also having to deal with suspension failure. The third one in contention for the driver’s championship was Pipo Derani in the Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac. With the top two cars hitting their share of problems, Derani had a great chance to steal the title by keeping it clean. Unfortunately, while occupying second place, Derani made what looked like a desperate move to get ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya by diving on the inside very late which ended with a spinning Montoya and a bent steering arm for Derani.
So many lead changes throughout the 12 hours occurred. Out of nowhere, it was the #77 Multimatic Mazda DPi of Oliver Jarvis/Tristan Nunuez/Olivier Pla comfortably in the lead. Unfortunately for them, the car suffered a rear tire puncture which brought the safety car out as the tire disintegrated while Jarvis was taking the car back to the pits. This gave the lead to the sister car for the restart. And with this, the win of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. The last 15 minutes of the race was nail-biting for the #7 Acura Team Penske as they were holding to a one point lead in the championship. But at the checkered flag, it was made official for drivers Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves as the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar driver’s championship was theirs. This marked the first championship for Castroneves at his last race for Team Penske and 20 years of partnership.
- 1- J. Bomarito/H. Thicknell/R. Hunter-Reay Mazda Motorsport
- 2- J. Montoya/D. Cameron/ S. Pagenaud. Acura Team Penske
- 3- O. Jarvis/T. Nunez/O. Pla. Mazda Motorsport
PORSCHE 1-2 in GTLM
In the GTLM class, the title having been already decided at the Motul Petit Le Mans, it was all about the honours of winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts for teams and drivers. This race also marked the end of the partnership between Oliver Gavin and the Corvette team on a full time base. Gavin announcing earlier in the week that he was to retire from full time racing.
Unfortunately for Gavin in hour 3, while driving the #4 Corvette and coming around the last turn, he spun while driving over fluid his car spewed on the track. The car was brought back to the pits for repair then returned to the track several laps down. He then faced another problem at the same corner in the later stage of the race as the rear suspension collapsed. The car was brought back to the team<s hauler then repaired to give the opportunity for Gavin to end the race.
This was also the last event for the Porsche GTLM program and they surely wanted to finish the season on a high note having one both previous races before Sebring.
Canadian Bruno Spengler had a fighting chance all race long with teammates Connor De Philippi and Colton Herta. On constant battle with Porsche throughout the race, De Philippi in the GTLM lead on the late restart, got hit from behind as he was braking into corner 3 while passing a GTD competitor. This send the car in to a spin with then a puncture. Having to dive onto the pits for repair, they lost precious time and had to settle for fourth place with two laps behind at the checkered flag.
This incident gave Porsche first and second place at the end of a gruelling 12 hour race. Quite a way to conclude a program that brought so much success for Porsche in IMSA. Let’s hope they will be back sooner than later.
- 1- N. Tandy/F. Makowiecki/E. Bamber Porsche GT Team
- 2- L. Vanthoor/N. Jani/E. Bamber Porsche GT Team
- 3- J. Krohn/J. Edwards/A. Farfus BMW Team RLL
Great end to a first season for Roman De Angelis
There was also a title to be decided in the GTD class with part Canadian team AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 in contention for the title as were the #86 Meyer Shank Racing/with CURB Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 and #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Running their own strategy at the time and running together well in contention, both cars came across the fluid left on the track by the #4 Corvette at the last corner and almost simultaneously spun and hit the tire barrier. This signal the end of they challenge after only three hours of racing.
It was then going to be between the Meyer Shank Racing and Wright Motorsports drivers to battle it out. And they did just that. In order to clinch the championship, Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry of Meyer Shank had to finish fourth or better to win it. Wright Motorsports’ drivers Patrick Long/Ryan Hardwick absolutely needed to win the race and hope Farnbacher and McMurry would finish fifth or worse.
It was a tough battle throughout the race and it was only in the last 15 minutes of the race that things changed for the better and worse for the Porsche drivers. On a late restart, while occupying this place, Long inherited first place when second place #74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 ran into the back of the then leading #25 BMW GTLM who then made contact with the #86 Acura. This gave the lead to #16 Porsche and Long crossed the finish line ahead of the #23 The Heart Of Racing Aston Martin GT3 who had been quietly consistent all race long.
But as Wright Motorsports celebrated their victory, the championship went to Meyer Shank Racing’s drivers Farnbacher and McMurray by 4 points.
- 1- P. Long/R. Hardwick/J. Heylen Wright Motorsports
- 2- I. James/R. De Angelis/D. Turner The Heart Of Racing
- 3- M. Farnbacher/M. McMurray/S. Michimi. Meyer Shank Racing w/CURB Agajanian
- 9- F. Montecalvo/T. Bell/M. De Quesada AIM Vasser Sullivan
- 12- A. Telitz/J. Hawksworth/K. Kirkwood AIM Vasser Sullivan
2020 has been a very challenging year for all involved in Motorsports and IMSA has been able to overcome the challenge in front of them and allowed race fans to cheer on their favourite team and drivers through what was another season filled with on-track action which makes us look forward to 2021.
It will be interesting to see how it will come together before everyone get together again in less than a couple of months for the Roar to the Rolex 24 in early January.
Among the changes, Team Penske will not be there but the Acura Dpi will still be competing under Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing. We won’t be hearing the Porsche 911 RSR anymore and who’s to know what GTLM will be like comes the Roar. For certain, the GTD class promises to be as competitive as it has been this year.
We can only hope the plaid Porsche will be back to add to the mix.
Images: Courtesy IMSA