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International Motor Sports Association

No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi Squad Caps Dominant Day with Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts Victory

 
No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Team Scores LMP2 Victory
 
March 17, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – They were the class of the field for the vast majority of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R team of Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran were rewarded with an overall victory in a grueling IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship battle on Saturday.

 
Morning rains and exceedingly wet track conditions prevented the green flag from flying for the first time until 40 minutes into the 12-hour race. But once it did, the No. 31 was flying too. The team combined to lead a race-high 249 of a possible 348 laps, including all three points-scoring segments toward the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

 
It wouldn’t be an easy victory, though, as the No. 31 team had its hands full with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R co-driven by Renger van der Zande, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Jordan Taylor over final two hours of the race.

 
Taylor nearly got past immediately after a pit stop with an hour and 20 minutes remaining when Nasr took over the No. 31 from Derani, but on that occasion, Nasr eventually managed to pull away. Taylor wasn’t done yet, though. He closed all the way up on Nasr with 21 minutes left in the race, getting to within 0.2 seconds, but still not quite close enough to make his move.

 
The fifth and final full-course caution came out with 15 minutes to go, giving Taylor one last shot on the ensuing restart with under 10 minutes remaining, but Nasr built just enough of a lead to seal a 1.030-second victory over the No. 10. It was the closest overall finish in the 67-race history of the Twelve Hours, eclipsing the 2016 margin of victory of 2.82 seconds.

 
“Jordan was already warmed up, he was in the car, and I got in the car knowing that he was going to be close,” Nasr said. “From the time I jumped in the car, all the procedures getting the belts on the team stopped changing tires and go – and he was right there.

 
“I couldn’t do a little mistake today. It was all about hitting our marks and I did that from Lap 1 to the checkered flag. There were some pretty tricky moments out there, like I caught traffic a few times and I had a four-second lead, and that last yellow flag as well that came with four laps to go, man, that was really tricky. I could see they picked up their pace, but we got the job done first.”

 
It was the first Sebring victory for both Nasr and Curran – who together co-drove to both the 2018 WeatherTech Championship and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Prototype titles. It was Derani’s second consecutive Sebring victory and his third in four years, making him the first driver with three overall wins in four years since the legendary Phil Hill won in 1958, 1959 and 1961.

 
“It means the world,” Derani said. “Today was just one of those days where everything went perfect, but we had a lot to lose in the beginning with the rain at the beginning. Two and a half hours I was in the car and there was lot of stress because there’s a lot to lose. You’re thinking, ‘OK, there’s 11 hours to go. What should you do? Push?’ But in the end, everything worked perfectly thanks to this amazing team.”

 
Derani and Nasr will continue as full-season co-drivers in the No. 31, while Curran will rejoin the team for the next Michelin Endurance Cup round, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 30.

 
“As a sports car driver, you kind of have your list of the races that you want to win on your bucket list, and the Sebring 12-hour is right up there at the top,” Curran said. “I don’t know how many years I’ve been racing the Sebring 12, but back to the ALMS days and obviously finishing second last year and finishing second prior to that, to come so close to a win, but not quite enough. So, it feels really special to now win this thing, finally, in a Whelen Cadillac.”

 
After winning both the 2018 season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and the 2019 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 10 team picked up its third consecutive podium with a runner-up result. They’re now tied with the No. 31 team – which finished second at Daytona – in the DPi championship standings with 67 points apiece after two of 10 races.

 
“We had a third-place car all day,” Taylor said. “So, to finish second was good. I think we overshot what we were capable of, so leaving here with that, we should be proud of it. It’s a good points day. We’d love to win Sebring, but I don’t think it was worth making a huge risk at the end to lose a bunch of points, so I’m happy with second and we can move on to Long Beach.”

 
Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley made it two Action Express Racing cars on the podium with a third-place run in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi. Finishing fourth was the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi team of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi which battled back after falling off the lead lap in the wet conditions early on.

 
The No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi of Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Romain Dumas completed the top five. It was Nissan’s second consecutive top-five at Sebring after winning the race last year with Derani, Johannes van Overbeek and Nicolas Lapierre in the No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM entry.

 
No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Team Scores LMP2 Victory
A seesaw battle in the early stages gave way to a dominating LMP2 class victory for the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA squad of Kyle Masson, Cameron Cassels and Andrew Evans. At two hours and 43 minutes into the race, Anders Fjorback slowed on course with left-side suspension problems on the Motul Pole Award-winning No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA.

 
The issues sent the No. 52 to the paddock for lengthy repairs, giving the No. 38 team an easy, 13-lap victory. It was the first Sebring victory for both Cassels and Evans, while it was the second for Masson, who also won in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class with the Performance Tech team back in 2017.

 
“Today was a really hard 12 hours,” Masson said. “Sebring is so bumpy. To get through the day with the car holding up completely, no mechanicals, it was a flawless execution. I’m just happy we brought the car home safe.

 
“For me, the rain was something I prayed for. I love driving in it and I love racing in it. I showed that this morning. I perform well in it is maybe the reason I love driving in it. I brought our car up to sixth overall, and to be passing the pole-sitting Penske DPi was a great feeling. I was very calm and cool, and experience builds calmness in the car. It was a lot easier today than two years ago remaining level-headed throughout the day.”

 
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the 100-minute BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday, April 13. The race features only the DPi and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes as part of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach event weekend.

 
NBCSN will have live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race beginning at 5 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also will cover the action live on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Porsche Continues Sebring Dominance, Scores 96th Career Win At Track

 
Trio of Pilet, Tandy and Makowiecki Win Second Straight Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in GTLM

 
GRT Lamborghini Wins Third Consecutive WeatherTech Championship Race
in GTD at Sebring
 
March 17, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. - No manufacturer has come close to Porsche’s success through the years at Sebring International Raceway, and while Saturday’s win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts brought its win total at the track to 96, this one certainly didn’t come easy.

 
A bold move by Nick Tandy with just under one hour remaining to get by the No. 67 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe – who was on his out lap after a pit stop –ultimately proved to be the winning pass for Tandy and his No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR teammates Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki.

 
At the time, the pass was for the second position after the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT dominated the majority of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class race with Briscoe and co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon at the wheel.

 
But roughly 25 minutes after Tandy made his pass on Briscoe, the race-leading No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia fell out of the lead with a scheduled pit stop, moving Tandy to the top of the leaderboard with 35 minutes remaining. Briscoe closed a four-second deficit to just one second in the closing minutes but spun on a late-race restart ensuring a second consecutive Sebring victory for the No. 911 team.

 
In total, the No. 911 Porsche led only 30 of the 330 laps, including the final 18 laps of the race.

 
“I didn’t realize the Corvette had to pit,” said Tandy. “I got ahead of them before the yellow. We had to stop a lap before them on the second to last stop and we had a bit of a tire advantage to leap frog them on the out lap. But then we were going to really have to take it easy on the fuel tank. I’m glad we didn’t have to do that at the very end.”

 
“Porsche is the most successful brand on this track,” added Pilet. “We never get pressure from our bosses, we put the pressure on ourselves. We wrote another line on the Porsche story. It was nice to be part of that story.”

 
A late-race yellow flag for the stopped BMW of Bill Auberlen set up a seven-minute sprint to the checkered flag. Briscoe spun shortly after the restart, handing the second position to his teammate Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford GT, but by that point Tandy opened up too much of a gap. Hand settled for second with teammates Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, 1.951 second back, while Briscoe finished sixth.

 
At the end of the day the four different manufacturers that make up the GTLM class full time took the top four positions with the No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller rounding out the podium. The No. 24 BMW M8 GTE of finished fourth with drivers Jesse Krohn, John Edwards and Philipp Eng. 

 
The race was slowed by five full-course cautions, including a 40-minute yellow flag to start the race due to poor track conditions from a heavy rain Saturday morning.

 
Experts at Endurance: GRT Lamborghini Wins Third Consecutive WeatherTech Championship Race in GT Daytona at Sebring

 
When it comes to endurance racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Grasser Racing Team is unbeatable.

 
The Austrian team solidified its position on Saturday night as one of the top endurance racing teams in the series, winning the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the No. 11 Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

 
GRT has made three starts in the WeatherTech Championship and has walked away from all three races with first place trophies. Including Saturday, GRT was also victorious at the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2018 and 2019.

 
Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Rik Breukers – co-drivers of the No. 11 Lamborghini at Sebring – have been a part of GRT’s winning lineup at each race. Competitors in the GTD class should take note, as GRT signed up for the full 2019 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season, which in addition to Daytona and Sebring includes the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

 
“It’s so cool to be back at Sebring and we couldn’t wish for a better start to the season, winning Daytona and Sebring,” said Bortolotti. “I hope I don’t wake up in half an hour. It feels like a dream. I’m really happy, I can’t believe it right now. It was a tough race, we made no mistakes. We had some contact with some lapped cars. All other classes are fighting as well. It’s such a difficult race to win. I’m really proud of this result.”

 
Not only was the win significant for GRT, but also Lamborghini as a manufacturer. In the last six Michelin Endurance Cup races, Lamborghini has taken home the checkered flag four times, with Lamborghini team Paul Miller Racing winning at Sebring one year ago.

 
“For the brand Lamborghini, it’s unbelievable,” said Ineichen. “To win at Daytona is one thing, and to then come here and win is even more incredible. The first time to get a back-to-back win, I think in IMSA for Lamborghini. Lamborghini gave us a great car. Daytona was the first race for the GT3 Evo and we won with a brand new car. Now to win again, it’s proof what Lamborghini did, and they gave us such a good car.”

 
Further exemplifying Lamborghini’s strength in the WeatherTech Championship, the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of John Potter, Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly finished second. The car came alive in the evening and seriously challenged GRT for the win, keeping within a second of the No. 11 for the majority of the final 45 minutes.

 
Rounding out the podium was the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander and Jeff Westphal.

 
The WeatherTech Championship DPi and GTLM classes return to action on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. for the BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix as part of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday, April 13 at 5:05 p.m. ET. 

 
The full WeatherTech Championship field reunites at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May. The Acura Sports Car Challenge also kicks off the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup, a championship specific to GTD teams competing in only the sprint races of the WeatherTech Championship. 

 

 

Cadillacs Continue to Dominate at Two-Thirds Distance
In Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts
 
March 16, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. - With eight hours down and four to go in the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, it’s looking promising for Cadillac to score its second victory in the prestigious once-around-the-clock event.

 
Cadillac DPi-V.R prototypes occupied the first four spots in the running order at the two-thirds distance with Felipe Nasr leading the way in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering machine. He was 23.306 seconds ahead of second-place Matthieu Vaxiviere in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac, with Filipe Albuquerque running in third place in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, 34.447 seconds in arrears of the leader.

 
The three Cadillacs were the only DPi cars on the lead lap at eight hours.

 
Chris Miller was fourth, one lap down in the No. 84 JDC-Miller Motorsports DPi-V.R. Three more cars, including Nissan and Acura DPis along with another Cadillac were running one lap down to the leaders, but would be right back on the lead lap and in the mix with one more full-course caution.

 
By leading at eight hours, Nasr earned the maximum five points towards the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, moving the No. 31 team to within one point, 24-23, of the DPi class-leading No. 10 team.

 
In the LMP2 class, the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA trio of Kyle Masson, Cameron Cassels and Andrew Evans continues to enjoy a comfortable, 19-lap lead. By leading the first two Michelin Endurance Cup segments, the No. 38 team now has moved into the LMP2 points lead.

 
In the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, seven of the eight cars in the class were still running on the lead lap with Richard Westbrook at the front of the field in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. Westbrook led Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R by 16.825 seconds, with Philipp Eng running third in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE.

 
Having led at both the four- and eight-hour scoring intervals at Sebring, the No. 67 team has moved into the GTLM points lead in the Michelin Endurance Cup standings by one point, 18-17, over the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR shared by Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet.

 
And the GT Daytona (GTD) class battle still includes 10 cars on the lead lap with Lars Kern guiding the way in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Kern was 10.142 seconds ahead of Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports GT3 Mercedes-AMG GT3, followed by Mario Farnbacher in third place aboard the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.

 
The No. 33 team continues to lead the Michelin Endurance Cup standings in the GTD class by six points, 23-17, over the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 squad of Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti and Rik Breukers.

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts continues on NBCSN through 11 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also has complete live coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Notes:
-         After a few dry hours, rain returned in the fifth hour of the race. Just prior to the halfway point, Jonathan Bomarito fell victim to the damp conditions in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi car, sliding off course and into the barrier in Turn 13. It brought out just the third full-course caution period of the race and the first since the race’s third hour. Bomarito was running second at the time of the incident.

 
-         The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 will not celebrate a repeat Sebring victory in GTD. Shortly after the halfway point in the race, the car spent nearly half an hour behind the wall for repairs due to a problem with the car’s clutch actuator.

 
-         The No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 shared by Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern was right in the mix in GTD before a broken shock sent the car into the pits for lengthy repairs.

 
-         With only the No. 19 Moorespeed Audi R8 LMS GT3 officially retired through eight hours, the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is on pace to set a record with 97.3 percent of the cars running at the finish. The current record was set in 2010, when 90.9 percent (30 of 33 cars) of the field was still running at the finish. 
Action Express Cadillacs 1-2 After Four Hours
In Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts
 
March 16, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. - Most of the first third of the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts was all about the pair of Action Express Racing Cadillac DPis, which occupied the first two positions at the four-hour mark.

 
Felipe Nasr led the way in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering machine by 53.503 seconds over Brendon Hartley in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. Nasr and the No. 31 team are the defending champions of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

 
By leading at the four-hour mark, the No. 31 team moved to within two points of the Michelin Endurance Cup DPi class points lead behind the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi squad. The No. 10 – which won January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona – battled early brake cooling issues and also incurred a drive-through penalty in the first four hours, but Matthieu Vaxiviere had the car on the lead lap in fifth place. Olivier Pla was third in DPi at four hours in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi machine.

 
While the race started as scheduled shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET, steady rains and excessively wet track conditions kept the field behind the Corvette safety car for the first 40 minutes before conditions improved enough for green flag running.

 
In the LMP2 class, Cameron Cassels held a substantial, 22-lap lead in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA over the No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA. Anders Fjorback was driving the No. 52 at four hours, but the car spent considerable time behind the wall for repairs due to a mechanical problem.

 
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais ran 1-2 in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. Driving the No. 67 Ford GT, Briscoe was 13.619 seconds ahead of Bourdais in the No. 66 entry. Both of the Ganassi cars now have 13 points toward the Michelin Endurance Cup, pulling them to within two of the effective GTLM class leader, the No. 912 Porsche GT Team entry shared by Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet.

 
The No. 912 was running seventh at the four-hour mark, two laps behind the leader and actually is one point out of the Michelin Endurance Cup lead, 16-15, behind the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari team that is not competing at Sebring.

 
In the GT Daytona (GTD) class, the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG trio of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga extended their lead in the Michelin Endurance Cup standings as Bleekemolen led the race at four hours.

 
Bleekemolen was 8.296 seconds ahead of the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven at the time by Mirko Bortolotti. The No. 33 team leads the Michelin Endurance Cup standings by three points, 19-16.

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts continues on NBCSN through 11 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also has complete live coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Notes:
-         Wet conditions persisted for the first two hours of the race before Derani switched to dry-weather tires. Despite the difficult conditions, there was only one full-course caution period after the initial 40-minute safety car period. That caution was caused by the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P, which stopped on course with a small fire two hours and 20 minutes into the race. Timo Berhhard was at the wheel at the time of the incident.

 
-         Tristan Nunez took the lead in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P DPi going into Turn 1, getting around polesitter Dane Cameron in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi.

 
-         Motul Pole Award winner Cameron and the No. 6 Acura team got off to a rocky start. Cameron encountered electrical issues around the one-hour mark in the race, bringing the car onto pit lane for an unscheduled stop. Adding insult to injury was a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit lane. Another issue just before the four-hour mark dropped the team three laps behind the leader.

 
-         The No. 7 Acura DPi shared by Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi also was one lap down at four hours. Taylor had a spin, during which his belts came loose inside the car, forcing him to make an unscheduled stop.

 
-         The No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R lost 11 laps for repairs to the alternator belt and jack shaft in the first four hours.

 
-         The top eight cars in the GTD class were on the lead lap at four hours. The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R shared by Zacharie Robichon, Scott Hargrove and Lars Kern, and the Motul Pole Award-winning No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 shared by Trent Hindman, Justin Marks and Mario Farnbacher were particularly strong throughout the first third of the race. The No. 9 was running fifth at four hours while the No. 86 was seventh.

 

Carbahn Motorsports Scores Long Overdue Win
In MICHELIN Pilot Challenge at Sebring

 
Blackstock, O’Gorman Start MICHELIN Pilot Challenge TCR Season
Two-for-Two with Win at Sebring
 
March 15, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. - On a steamy Friday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway, Carbahn Motorsports clinched its first victory in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge the way every team would wish to do so – in dominating fashion.

 
Starting third on the grid for the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 in the No. 39 Audi R8 GT4, Tyler McQuarrie jumped out past the cars on the front row immediately on the first lap. A caution deeper in the field, also on the first lap, solidified the No. 39 Audi in the lead over the pole-sitting No. 46 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4.

 
The battle on the racetrack carried over into the pits, with both Carbahn Motorsports and Team TGM pitting 1-2 on the same lap. McQuarrie handed over the reins to co-driver Jeff Westphal and the Carbahn crew excelled on the stop, allowing the No. 39 Audi to retain the lead over the No. 46 Mercedes-AMG out of the pits and back on track.

 
The team would go on to lead 42 of the race’s 49 laps en route to victory.

 
“From the start of it, we knew we were going to have a hot race and to manage the tires and tire degradation was going to be key to make the car consistent,” said Westphal, who will be also be competing in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. “We worked really hard with the boys and Tyler and everyone the first couple days. It all came together, it was a team effort. Tyler drove an amazing opening stint and I can’t thank him enough.

 
“It means a lot to me, everyone’s efforts. I’ve known this guy for a long time. We’ve been teammates for a season. It’s a great feeling to put together our first W.”

 
Not only was this Carbahn’s first Pilot Challenge win as a team, it was also a first in the series for McQuarrie and Westphal. The team came oh-so-close to bringing home a checkered flag in 2018, but rather brought home five top-five finishes in 10 races instead. The team was also running second at Daytona in January before running out of fuel on the final lap.

 
“Coming into this race, we had high expectations to make up some of the deficit we created in Daytona,” said McQuarrie. “The guys did an awesome job, the car’s been great the entire weekend. For us to thank them, this is the best way. We went out and led the entire race and to give this team a win, their first win, is a great feeling and it’s going to give us momentum moving forward to the next race.”

 
Inching closer to the top step of the podium is the BimmerWorld Racing duo of James Clay and Devin Jones in the No. 82 BMW M4 GT4. Clay and Jones finished fourth at the season-opening race at Daytona and the only improvement to make would be a win.

 
Finishing third for the second consecutive race was Motorsports In Action’s No. 69 McLaren GT4 of Jesse Lazare and Corey Fergus.

 
Blackstock, O’Gorman Start MICHELIN Pilot Challenge TCR Season Two-for-Two with Win at Sebring
It’s two-for-two at two very different racetracks in 2019 for Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock.

 
The only thing similar about the victories was that it was their No. 37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic that survived a MICHELIN Pilot Challenge TCR race which had only six cars finish on the lead lap.

 
Coming from the banks of Daytona International Speedway to the bumps of Sebring International Raceway, O’Gorman and Blackstock both credit the manufacturer for the car’s back-to-back wins.

 
“We got away with it at Daytona, not having the car figured out because there’s not a lot of turns and we stayed in the draft and raced the car,” said O’Gorman, whose victories at Daytona and Sebring came in his first starts at the two circuits. “Here, we got a lot more figured out. It’s also cool for Honda to put together a car that handles the bumps so well and everything that this track challenges you with. We’ve covered the spectrum now.”

 
“That’s the biggest thing that says the most about LAP Motorsports, LA Honda World, Honda and HPD,” added Blackstock. “They’re two totally different racetracks. One was very smooth with high banks, one has been here since World War II and is extremely bumpy. The car has been competitive in both of them. That right there says so much about both organizations. It’s definitely made our lives easier, but we’re ecstatic right now. Where do you go from here?”

 
Arguably the strongest contender in the TCR class all weekend, the No. 17 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS of Britt Casey, Jr. and Mikey Taylor, finished second at Sebring and will return to the series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July.

 
Making it tow Hondas in the top three was Ryan Eversley and Chad GIlsinger in the No. 89 HART Honda Civic.

 
The television broadcast of the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, March 28 at 3 p.m. ET. The next race for the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge takes place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, May 4 at 1:45 p.m. ET.
Pilet Scores GTLM Pole For Porsche at Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts

 
Hindman Earns First WeatherTech Championship Motul Pole Award
In Meyer Shank Acura
 
March 15, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. - It was a hard-fought qualifying session for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class as drivers went all out, sliding off track at times, seeking the pole position for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts.

 
Coming out on top was Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR with a time of one minute, 55.899 seconds (114.942 mph). It was Pilet’s first pole since 2015 at Circuit of The Americas and makes it two-for-two for Porsche GT Team in 2019, as Pilet’s co-driver Nick Tandy scored the pole at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

 
“It’s a great presentation for Porsche,” said Pilet. “It was one of our weaknesses last season. But the tires Michelin provides this season are really good. Last season you could pick a tire for qualifying and for racing. Now you have to use the same tire for the start of the race. I think that is to our advantage because we are faster over the longer runs with the right tire.”

 
Pilet, Tandy and endurance driver Frederic Makowiecki are the only defending winners of the Twelve Hours of Sebring to return with the same lineup that won in 2018 and hope their experience can combine for Porsche’s 96th victory at historic Sebring International Raceway. The next winningest manufacturer is Corvette with 41 wins.

 
“We have a really good spirit,” added Pilet. “We are good friends and sharing. We have a good time outside of the car. We had a lot of success last year and a lot of victories. We were good at Le Mans, and this year we were good at Daytona, but had some troubles at 16 hours, so we didn’t get what we wanted. 

 
“If you look at Porsche results, it’s good. If you look at the track it’s not designed for our car because it is quite bumpy, but we have the package for success for the rest of this weekend.”

 
Laurens Vanthoor was initially thought to have made it an all-Porsche front row, qualifying the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR in second place, but will start at the end of the class grid after being issued a post-qualifying penalty for not proceeding directly to tech post-qualifying.

 
With the penalty, the No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia has been elevated to the second position. Garcia originally qualified third in the car he will share with Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller.

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts begins Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, with continuing coverage on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout race week on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and the IMSA App, with IMSA Radio’s race call available on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Hindman Earns First WeatherTech Championship Motul Pole Award in Meyer Shank Acura
In his first full-time season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Trent Hindman is already delivering for the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX team.

 
On Friday morning at Sebring International Raceway, Hindman collected the Motul Pole Award in the GT Daytona (GTD) class with the first lap time of the weekend under two minutes at one minute, 59.917 seconds (111.091 mph).

 
Hindman – who has finished in the top 10 in all seven of his previous WeatherTech Championship starts – will codrive in tomorrow’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts with Mario Farnbacher and Justin Marks. 

 
“It’s got a nice ring to it, first WeatherTech pole, and hopefully it’s my first of man,” said Hindman. “Between everyone in Meyer-Shank racing and all the guys over the wall who are day-in and day-out, putting in the effort, staying here, getting up early. Acura, HPD, it’s just been sort of a surreal moment. I’m grateful I can be here. It’s the least I can do as a driver to pay them back. Now we get to try it all again tomorrow.”

 
Rounding out the front row will be the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 driven by Robby Foley. The BMW has shown speed all weekend, topping the second practice on Thursday.
Banner Day For Acura In Motul Pole Award Qualifying
For Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts

 
McMurry, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Scores LMP2 Motul Pole Award
 
March 15, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – It was a banner day for Acura and Acura Team Penske Friday in qualifying for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

 
Dane Cameron scored his third career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Pole Award and will lead the 38-car grid to the green flag for Saturday’s 12-hour race with a lap of one minute, 45.865 seconds (125.837 mph) in the No. 6 Acura DPi for Acura Team Penske.

 
Acura also scored the pole in the GT Daytona (GTD) class with Trent Hindman in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 for Meyer Shank Racing. It is the first time the manufacturer has sat on the pole in both classes on the same weekend.

 
It was Cameron’s third career Sebring class pole, also earning the top spot for Genoa Racing in 2011 and Turner Motorsport in 2014. His lone Sebring win came from the pole in 2011. He will be joined in the Twelve Hours by co-drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud.

 
“There is nothing better than the view in the front,” said Cameron. “I’m super, super proud of this effort. “Acura Team Penske has been doing a good job. Last year was good, but definitely not up to our standard. We worked super hard over the winter and worked with HPD to try to make improvements to figure out our weaknesses. We started strong at Daytona and starting strong again here. I’m just really proud of the effort and to be strong in year two making sure we’re improving on the things we learned from last year.”

 
Mazda Team Joest continued to show the speed it displayed back in Daytona with Tristan Nunez qualifying the No. 77 Mazda DPi in the second position, one race after Oliver Jarvis put it on the pole at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Nunez’ lap of 1:46.011 was 0.146 behind Cameron’s pole-winning time.

 
Helio Castroneves made it two Acura DPi’s in the top three in the No. 7 Acura DPi, while Action Express Racing’s pair of Cadillac DPi-V.R.s rounded out the top five. Filipe Albuquerque qualified the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi fourth, while Pipo Derani drove the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi to fifth.

 
Derani enters the weekend as the winningest active driver in terms of overall victories at Sebring, winning in two of his three career starts (2016, 2018).

 
The Rolex 24-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Wayne Taylor Racing qualified sixth. The team has won the last two IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races, the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (Oct. 2018) and January’s Rolex 24. The car also finished second at Sebring one year ago.

 
McMurry, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Scores LMP2 Motul Pole Award
PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports narrowly missed the Motul Pole Award one race ago in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, qualifying second in the prestigious season-opening race. Setting out to improve on that position Friday in qualifying for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts at Sebring International Raceway, the team did just that with Matthew McMurry laying down a flyer right at the checkered flag to score his first career Motul Pole Award.

 
That lap of 1:49.728 in the No. 52 ORECA LMP2 edged out Kyle Masson in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports LMP2 by just 0.011 seconds. Leading much of the session, McMurray was jumped by Masson with just two minutes remaining and achieved the pole-winning time on the final lap of the 15-minute session.

 
“It was a fun qualifying, it was very close between me and Kyle, going back and forth,” said McMurray. “I got him back by a hundredth at the very end. It was a different qualifying experience than the previous years. The Michelin comes in much quicker and in total, holds its grip a little longer. It was fun to see how much the track changed since this morning’s practice.”

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts begins Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, with continuing coverage on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout race week on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and the IMSA App, with IMSA Radio’s race call available on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 

 

 

McAleer Breaks Through For IMSA Prototype Challenge Win
At ‘Favorite Track In The World’

 
“JJ” Duo of Jorge, Janco Scores Second Consecutive
Bronze Cup Victory for P1 Motorsports 
SEBRING, Fla. (Mar. 14, 2019) – On a hot and muggy day at Sebring International Raceway – one of the most physically demanding road courses in the world – it was one of the few cars in the IMSA Prototype Challenge field with only one driver that came away with the checkered flag Thursday.

 
Stevan McAleer battled the heat and Sebring’s notorious bumps to score the victory in the No. 43 Robillard Racing Norma M30 by 11.355 seconds over the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30 of Austin McCusker and Rodrigo Pflucker.

 
It was an adjustment on a speedy pit stop that helped propel McAleer to the win. Pitting from the second position during a series of green flag pit stops with 48 minutes remaining, the Robillard Racing crew made quick work in the pits and by the time the sequence of stops cycled through with 39 minutes remaining, McAleer found himself in the lead over McCusker, whose co-driver Pflucker led all but one lap in the race’s opening hour.

 
“We made a tire pressure adjustment for the second one and I said the kid in first in the 47 car [Pflucker], I really didn't have much for him at the start,” said McAleer. “Once we put the new tires on, we did a pressure change and it really, really, really helped balance the car. I'll be honest with you, I had a blast. The Muehlner guys for sure killed the pit stop. I'm super happy for the team.

 
“A really cute story, Sebring was my first ever race in America back in 2006 and ever since then I fell in love with it. It is my favorite track in the world.”

 
The runner-up finish for McCusker and Pflucker was the duo’s second consecutive to start the season and moved the Forty7 Motorsports team to the top of the series standings. It continues an impressive stretch for the No. 47 entry dating back to 2018 when McCusker and then-co-driver TJ Fischer scored four podium finishes and two wins in six races, finishing second in the series standings. Pflucker started the Sebring event from the pole after earning the top spot in qualifying earlier Thursday morning.

 
“I think we got jumped in the pits,” said McCusker. “I don't know if it was my out lap or if we were slow in the pits. From there on he started to inch a little bit on us, a second or two after the gap in the pits. But I'm happy with where we're at. Second on the podium. Points lead. Can't complain.”

 
The No. 23 Alianza/Gilbert Motorsports Norma M30 and Anthony Simone seemed poised to score its first podium of the season late in the race, but slowed on track with 11 minutes remaining. The No. 26 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3 of James McGuire and Matthew Bell capitalized on the No. 23’s misfortune to round out the podium. Bell set the fastest lap of the race with a lap of one minute, 58.352 seconds.

 
Five different teams took the top five positions in the race with the No. 4 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P3 of Blake Mount and Max Hanratty and the father-son duo of David and Dylan Murry in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3 rounding out the top five.

 
Finishing 11th, but winning the Bronze Cup as the highest-running Bronze-only driver lineup was Jonatan Jorge, and his P1 Motorsports co-driver Joel Janco. It was the second consecutive race the “JJ” duo stood on the top step of the podium after also winning the Bronze Cup at Daytona in January, but this one was a bit more challenging with Jorge battling food poisoning coming into the event.

 
“The champagne is helping,” joked Jorge after the race. “It was a bit of a long night for sure. I’m just happy for Joel and the team to be up on top, the car was very good today. The track kind of got away from us a bit at the middle there so we had to adapt, but I’ll tell you what, it feels good to be here.”

All IMSA Prototype Challenge races are shown on NBCSN throughout the season with the Sebring broadcast scheduled for Thursday, March 28 at 2 p.m. ET.
Trinkler Earns First Motul Pole Award for Team TGM
In MICHELIN Pilot Challenge at Sebring

 
Thursday Practice Times Foreshadow Motul Pole Award for JDC-Miller and Casey, Jr.
 
March 14, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – Don’t look now, but the defending IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge champions are back on top.

 
Owen Trinkler delivered the first Motul Pole Award for Team TGM driving the No. 46 Mercedes-AMG GT4 on Thursday evening, recording a best lap time of two minutes, 10.521 seconds (102.066 mph) in the Grand Sport (GS) class.

 
The Nashville native, who is defending his GS title alongside his 2018 co-driver Hugh Plumb, will lead the 43-car field to green on Friday at Sebring International Raceway.

 
The two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 will be streamed live on IMSA.tv beginning at noon ET.

 
Not only was this the first Motul Pole Award for Trinkler since 2009 – being a rare starting driver over the years – this was also the second pole position for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the Pilot Challenge. Additionally, Friday’s race will mark Trinkler’s 150th start in the series.

 
“We worked all weekend so far in our practices on long runs, but we made a change right before qualifying to make it look quick for one lap,” said Trinkler. “I told the guys, ‘Give me one lap and if it’s a clear lap, we’ve got a good shot at the pole.’ I’m so happy for these guys at TGM and Ted (Giovanis) and Joe (Varde) and Hugh and everybody on this team to get our first pole. It means a lot.

 
“I mean the AMG GT4, man, that’s a beautiful car. It’s an awesome car and I’m so happy to be in that product and AMG Mercedes, what they do for us. We’ll have some fun tomorrow and see what we can do.”

 
The GS qualifying session was red flagged with five minutes remaining due to an incident and did not resume. Kuno Wittmer will start second in the No. 75 Compass Racing McLaren GT4 that he shares with Paul Holton and with whom he also won the first race of the season at Daytona. Starting third will be Tyler McQuarrie in the No. 39 Audi R8 GT4 for Carbahn Motorsports with co-driver Jeff Westphal.

 
Thursday Practice Times Foreshadow Motul Pole Award for JDC-Miller and Casey, Jr.
If the No. 17 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS TCR wasn’t already a threat to win the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 in the TCR class before Thursday, they sure are now.

 
After his co-driver Mikey Taylor posted the fastest laps in the first two practice sessions, Britt Casey, Jr. earned the Motul Pole Award with the quickest lap time of the 15-car TCR field at two minutes, 13.751 seconds (99.601 mph). This is the second consecutive Motul Pole Award at Sebring and fourth Pilot Challenge pole in Casey, Jr.’s career.

 
“We’re sitting on pole, two years in a row at Sebring,” said Casey, Jr. “One of my favorite tracks to be honest. It’s brutal on the drivers, it’s brutal on the cars and I think it really matters taking care of your equipment so hey, we’re here now and we’re clicking pretty good going into tomorrow.”

 
Lined up outside the front row for the team’s second Pilot Challenge start is the No. 84 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic with starting driver Brian Henderson and team owner Todd Lamb sharing driving duties. Making it three different manufacturers in the top three starting spots is the No. 98 Hyundai Veloster N for Bryan Herta Autosport and with qualifying driver Mark Wilkins and Tom Dyer.  
Corvette Racing Finds Nighttime Speed, Garcia Turns Thursday’s Fastest GTLM Lap in Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Presented by Advance Auto Parts Practice
 
March 14, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – Nighttime is the right time for Corvette Racing, or at least it was on Thursday in practice for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

 
While the day’s fastest times in the other three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes were set during one of the two daytime sessions, Antonio Garcia posted the fastest GT Le Mans (GTLM) time of the day at 1:56.954 inside the final 30 minutes of what was a 90-minute night practice session in preparation for the once-around-the-clock race set to start at 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday.

 
The evening speed may bode well for Garcia and co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller, as they’re also competing in Friday’s FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 1000 Miles of Sebring. The qualifying session for that race – which starts at 4 p.m. ET and is expected to last approximately eight hours – followed WeatherTech Championship night practice.

 
“The good thing about this is, even if we had some misses earlier in practice, we went back out and followed the plan,” Garcia said. “For sure, this was a qualifying run towards the WEC. This is maybe the only advantage we have, knowing we can do this right away before qualifying. Let’s see if the other car behaves exactly the same, because if it does, we might have a good chance.”

 
The fastest overall time of the day came in the afternoon session, when Olivier Pla lapped the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway circuit at 1:46.834 in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi machine. Pla and his co-drivers – Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell – also are pulling double duty, racing for Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK in the WEC race.

 
Matt McMurry led all three LMP2 practice sessions, but his best lap was a 1:50.877 set this morning. He’s sharing the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA with Gabriel Aubry and Anders Fjorback.

 
And in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, the fastest time of the day went to Bill Auberlen in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. Auberlen’s best lap from the afternoon session was 2:00.583 in the car he will co-drive with Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern.

 
Friday’s WeatherTech Championship schedule calls for a fourth practice session from 8 to 9:25 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying from 9:55 to 11 a.m. ET. The qualifying session will be streamed live with IMSA Radio commentary on IMSA.tv. 

 

 

 

MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Drivers Prepare for Qualifying
Following Two Practice Sessions
Automatic Racing Unveils Livery of New Aston Martin GT4
in Front of Large Manufacturer Presence
 
March 14, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. The IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge got its first official on-track action at Sebring International Raceway Thursday with two practice sessions before lunchtime as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts weekend officially began.

 
Following the second practice session, two BMW M4 GT4s topped the charts in the Grand Sport (GS) class, the No. 82 of James Clay and Devin Jones for BimmerWorld Racing and the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW of Bill Auberlen – who was fastest in first practice – and Robby Foley. A cool morning gave way to warmer temperatures later in the day, which mirrors the forecast for race day on Friday.

 
“The heat with the track is definitely playing a role, especially tomorrow it looks like it’s going to be even hotter,” said Jones, who was fastest in second practice. “We’re trying to just keep up with the changes, but these BimmerWorld guys have done a great job. We had a fuel pump problem right before that last practice, so we were only able to get out the last 15 minutes or so. The guys hustled hard to get us on track for that practice and it was satisfying to go fastest for them, so it felt good.”

 
In the TCR class, the newly announced No. 17 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS driven by Mikey Taylor along with Britt Casey, Jr. posted the fastest lap in both practice sessions and only had raving comments about the team and the new car.

 
“It’s been a great start to our program,” said Taylor. “Overall, we’ve all put in a lot of work – myself, Unitronic, JDC, Out There Brands – have done a lot of work to get here. We all knew the potential was there, but it’s just great to actually realize it and see it in person.

 
“The car is really good and surprisingly, it can actually get better. I think that’s a worry to some of our competitors. It’s been great, both of our team cars are running really well, so I’m fairly confident for the race. But again it’s a long race.”

 
The second JDC-Miller Audi of Stephen Simpson and Michael Johnson finished second to its sister car in both practices as well. 
Automatic Racing Unveils Livery of New Aston Martin GT4 in Front of Large Manufacturer Presence

 
A large contingent of Aston Martin executives and stakeholders were at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday for the livery unveil of the No. 97 Invisible Glass/Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

 
Aston Martin Vice President David King and Managing Director of Aston Martin Racing John Gaw joined Automatic Racing’s Team Owner David Russell and two drivers, Rob Ecklin, Jr. and Ramin Abdolvahabi for the unveil.

 
“We’re proud to represent our brands with Aston Martin Racing and Automatic Racing, two institutions in the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge,” said Ecklin. “David Russell has been at this a long time and Aston Martin has a long history. Stoner Car Care is excited and proud to have that association and I’m excited to be able to drive the new car. I’m very thankful and enjoying every minute of it.”

 
The car was delivered unwrapped to the team in January, just days before the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, and Ecklin describes how the new Aston Martin GT4 is completely unlike its predecessor.

 
“It really is a new car, with no comparisons to the previous generation Aston Martin,” said Ecklin. “It’s got a twin-turbo eight-cylinder engine instead of the normally-aspirated eight cylinder, it’s got a better, quicker gearbox, better brake package, and it’s got air conditioning in the cockpit, which is a luxury we’ve never experienced! It’s more compliant, more stable in really hard, straight-line braking, and it’s really good in trail braking. And we’ve got the suspension and chassis completely tuned for racing. As Ramin says, it’s built from the ground up as a race car and you can feel the difference.”

 
Up next for the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge is qualifying for tomorrow’s Alan Jay Automotive 120 at 5:55 p.m. ET on Thursday. The two-hour race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv at noon ET and fans can follow along with updates on social media using the hashtags #AlanJay120 and #IMPC. 

 

Ferrari Challenge Opens North American Season
at Circuit of the Americas
 
March 14, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
AUSTIN, Tx. -

 
MacNeil, Ghandour, Baker and Davis all Claim Wins at COTA
An early morning gave way to a hazy afternoon as Challenge competitors gathered at the Circuit of the Americas for Race 2 of Ferrari Challenge competition in North America. Cloudy skies, however, meant cooler temperatures, a welcome respite for the drivers after Saturday’s warm and humid conditions. Ultimately, however, the patterns started on Saturday were maintained into Sunday; clean racing, respect across the field and enjoyment while racing Ferraris.

 
Trofeo Pirelli. Cooper MacNeil avenged his last lap mistake of Saturday and took an absolutely dominant win in Race 2 at Circuit of the Americas. The Ferrari of Westlake driver bolted on the start and never looked back, averaging nearly 1 mph more than his nearest competitor, equivalent to a 17 second gap as they crossed the line.  Benjamin Hites (The Collection) had a thrilling race, but for different reasons as he was shuffled back at the start and spent the rest of the race chipping away. A number of thrilling passes later, none more so than multi-lap battle with Martin Burrowes (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale), and Benjamin was back in second position, but no where near close enough to chase down Cooper. Martin came home in third, seven seconds ahead of last year’s Coppa Shell champion, Thomas Tippl (Ferrari of Beverly Hills).

 
Trofeo Pirelli AM. Ziad Ghandour (Boardwalk Ferrari) repeated on the podium, but this time earned the top step over Todd Morici (Wide World Ferrari) and Dave Musial (Ferrari Lake Forest). Ziad’s performance was similarly demonstrative to Cooper’s in the Trofeo class, where Ziad generated a 19 second gap by race end. Further back it was a bit closer, with Todd only one second ahead of Dave as they crossed the line. Saturday’s race winner, Mark Fuller (Ferrari of Silicon Valley) unfortunately did not start the race.

 
Coppa Shell. Danny Baker (Ferrari of Palm Beach) made it a perfect weekend as he again took control of the Coppa race and never looked back. After a clean getaway and excellent opening lap, he was able to settle in for the 30 minute sprint to the finish.  Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) did make things interesting about mid-way through as he was able to close up and challenge Danny’s position. But ultimately, Danny was able to find a few more tenths per lap and finished 4 seconds ahead of Mark. The pair were in a league of their own as Claude Senhoreti (Ferrari of Ft Lauderdale) finished third and nearly thirty seconds back on the leading pair.

 
Coppa Shell AM. Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) again took the top step of the Coppa AM podium, delivering a strong drive that earned him a 20 second gap to the second place finisher, Eric Marston (Ferrari of Westlake). A first time competitor, Eric did an excellent job to finish 6th overall, just ahead of more established competitors like Kevan Millstein (Ferrari of San Diego, in the Coppa category). Another first time podium finisher, Gianni Grilli (Ferrari of Quebec) rounded out the podium in third.

 
Schedule. Ferrari Challenge will return to racing action in a month’s time on April 5th at Sebring International Raceway.

 
A recap of the weekend is available here.

 
First Winners of 2019 Crowned at Circuit of The Americas
The 2019 Ferrari Challenge Trofeo season kicked off at the home of Formula One in the United States, the Circuit of the Americas. What began as a gloomy day with threat of thunder and lightening, turned glorious and warm at the mid-day mark. It became the best possible context for the opening round of a Ferrari Challenge weekend.

 
Trofeo. Cooper MacNeil (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Westlake) stormed off from pole to an immense lead that he maintained successfully for most of the race. His concentration, however, slipped at the very worst moment, as he entered the final corner on the final lap. What seemed to be a small moment of instability entering the corner became a massive moment of rotation as his 488 Challenge car pirouetted on the apex of turn 20.  Benjamin Hites (The Collection), running a lonely race in 2nd seized the moment, attacked and eked out a victory by just two tenths of a second. Further down the order, Martin Burrowes (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale), recently transitioned from his 458 EVO and championship 2018 season, came out top trumps in a three way dice between long time competitor James Weiland (Ferrari of San Francisco) and another 2018 champion, Thomas Tippl (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills).

 
Trofeo AM. Mark Fuller (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Silicon Valley) took the win, the Pirelli award and the Gentleman’s Cup, a clean sweep. Mark was a bit ahead of his nearest challenger, Barry Zekelman (Ferrari of Ontario), generating a five second gap by race-end, while Ziad Ghandour(Boardwalk Ferrari) took third position, pressuring Barry to the end, though ultimately falling short by just over one second.

 
Coppa. A crowded circuit made life a bit more interesting for those in the Coppa category. Sharing the circuit with the Coppa AM drivers, COTA was filled with 30 488 Challenge cars for their opening race of 2019. In the Coppa category, Danny Baker (Ferrari of Palm Beach) romped to victory after an excellent start. The former 458 EVO driver, clearly found a comfortable groove, surviving various amounts of pressure through the 30 minute race.  Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta), claimed an emotional 2nd place finish after earning pole in the morning’s qualifying session.  Dale Katechis (Miller Motorcars) claimed a tense third, just ahead of Kevan Millstein (Ferrari of San Diego). The two were well acquainted from many shared battles in 2018 when they were both in the Coppa AM category.

 
Coppa AM. Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) claimed his first ever win in Ferrari Challenge competition, holding off Ian Campbell (Ferrari of New England) in the thirty minute sprint. The race to the finish saw multiple mixed class battles as an early spin for Geoff Palermo in the Coppa category meant that he had to claw his way back to the front through several Coppa AM competitors. Nevertheless, Brian’s result was quite impressive as he finished in fifth overall, and well among many of the Coppa competitors. The duo was joined on the podium by Kris Perzan (Ferrari of Ft Lauderdale) who claimed third position.

 
 
Nasr Gets Off To Quick Start, Leads Sebring Opening Practice
In No. 31 Cadillac DPi
 
March 14, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – Defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season champion Felipe Nasr and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R team were the quickest ones “off the truck” in Thursday’s initial practice session for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

 
Nasr posted a best lap of 1:46.996 (124.507 mph) to top the overall and DPi class time charts in the car he’s sharing with new full-season co-driver Pipo Derani and Eric Curran, the driver with whom he co-drove to the 2018 WeatherTech Championship Prototype title who has moved to an IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup-only role with the team this year.

 
Derani has won the Twelve Hours of Sebring in two of the past three years – including last year in the No. 22 Nissan DPi with Johannes van Overbeek and Nicolas Lapierre – and is new to the No. 31 squad this year.

 
“Now that he’s in the car with us, we need to make sure he wins this race as well, which will be my first time here winning Sebring,” Nasr said. “I really want to do it. I felt like we had an amazing car at Daytona and we started on the right foot here again. I’m really hoping we can get on that top step pretty soon.”

 
Nasr’s best lap was 0.355 seconds faster than Dane Cameron’s time in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi that placed him second on the speed chart. Third was Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Renger van der Zande in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. The top three times were within less than four-tenths of a second.

 
In the GTLM class, 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro winner Laurens Vanthoor led the way with a lap of 1:56.983 (113.877 mph) in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR he shares with Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet. Vanthoor saw his teammates in the No. 911 team win the GLTM class win here last year, and he’s eager to flip the script in 2019.

 
“Obviously, Porsche won last year, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I would like it to be 912 this time,” he said. “Porsche has a really big history at Sebring, it’s the most wins ever (95 wins), so we’ll try to continue that.”

 
Matt McMurry was quickest in LMP2 practice with a lap of 1:50.877 (120.148 mph) in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA he is co-driving with Gabriel Aubry and Anders Fjorback. In GTD, two-time class winner Mario Farnbacher led opening practice in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 he’s sharing with Trent Hindman and Justin Marks. Farnbacher’s best lap was a 2:00.793 (110.285 mph).

 
The next WeatherTech Championship practice starts at 2:40 p.m. ET.

 

Sebring Wednesday Notebook

 
March 13, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. -

 
Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Teammates Return to Site of Biggest Triumph To Date
There’s been no bigger victory so far for the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini team than last year’s GT Daytona (GTD) class win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

 
That victory was a key to propelling the team to its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD title at the end of the season. Two of the three drivers who won for the team at Sebring last year – Bryan Sellers and Corey Lewis – are back to defend the title, but it’s not going to be easy.

 
“Sebring is a difficult race to win,” Sellers said. “Last year, we were strong. We had good pace, had a good car and we were able to sort of wait around the whole race until the very end to be in the fight. I would say as the series is starting to evolve, the opportunity to do that becomes less and less. The competition this year is higher than it was last year.”

 
Ryan Hardwick is Sellers’ new full-season teammate in the No. 48 and was the 2018 Lamborghini Super Trofeo AM world champion. It will be Hardwick’s first race at Sebring, but he likes the team’s chances.

 
“We tested here and after my very first laps, honestly, I surprised myself on how confident I felt here,” Hardwick said. “I think it’s a lot of testament to the car and all the work that these guys have done on this car. Even with all the bumps and all the technical sections of this track, it really was – this track is not easy – but our car was very confidence-inspiring as I was getting up to speed.”

 
Baptism By Fire for Bomarito in Sebring Double
Most of the 11 drivers competing in both the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Friday’s 1000 Miles of Sebring FIA World Endurance Championship are racing in cars that are familiar – or at least in a similar class to the ones they race regularly in either the WeatherTech Championship or the WEC.

 
That’s not the case for Jonathan Bomarito. Yes, he’s very familiar with the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P DPi car he’s sharing on Saturday with Harry Tincknell and Olivier Pla. But on Friday, he’s racing the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK Ford GT for the first time, sharing the car with Tincknell and Andy Priaulx.

 
Bomarito is confident in his abilities to quickly adapt to the car, but he reckons he’ll need to make a few adjustments between racing in the WeatherTech Championship and WEC.

 
“Driving the car was a bit of an adjustment, but with Harry and Andy Priaulx being on and looking at some data, I think I adjusted fairly quick to the driving style,” Bomarito said. “The biggest things is procedurally with the WEC compared to IMSA. There’s a lot of different rules and regulations, how the full-course yellows are done, slow zones, safety cars, you have to turn off the engine when you do pit stops in that series, it’s a different pit lane.

 
“There’s a lot of logistical differences. Believe it or not, as a driver, that’s harder for me to wrap my head around than actually driving the car. I think it’s a bit of an advantage going from a slower-paced car on Friday to the faster car on Saturday. It’s usually easier to do it that way. At least on Saturday, if you miss the braking zone, you’re probably not going to slide off the track. It’s going to be fun. There is some transition, for sure.”

 
Stacy, Marcelli Set Sights on Sebring Three-Peat in MICHELIN Pilot Challenge
If not for the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 being one day later than it was last year, Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli would be seeking their third IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge win at Sebring International Raceway in exactly one year’s time.

 
In the No. 60 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4, the duo won last year’s race in March and followed up with a victory in the inaugural Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore in November.

 
“It was a really big deal for us,” said Stacy. “It was our first race of the season and after that we proceeded to go for three more podiums in a row with two more of those being wins. We came back for the Encore in 2018 and were fortunate enough to win that one by a pretty decent margin. We have a big notebook to work off here, especially with the Michelins and just really glad we’re able come back and try for a three-peat this year.”

 
Stacy and Marcelli kicked off the weekend at the Sebring Fan Fest on Tuesday, being two of the many drivers who represented the Pilot Challenge in downtown Sebring.

 
“It was an awesome autograph session, a huge turnout,” said Stacy. “We had an awesome pinewood derby race, we all got smoked by five-year-olds so that feels bad but it was a lot of fun. Hopefully we get to do more of that with IMSA in the future and I think it was super cool to represent such an awesome prestigious series for its 50th anniversary.”

 
Defending TCR Champion Britt Casey, Jr. Returns to Pilot Challenge Paddock
Starting off his partial IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge season this weekend at Sebring International Raceway is Britt Casey, Jr., the defending TCR class champion.

 
It was announced in February that Casey, Jr. and Mikey Taylor would join JDC-Miller Motorsports for a four-race TCR effort in the No. 17 Audi RS3 LMS starting this weekend and continuing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

 
Given his commitments outside of track, Casey, Jr. feels this was the best opportunity for him in 2019.

 
“It definitely feels good to be back,” said Casey, Jr. “It was a long offseason. I’m still a full-time student at Miami of Ohio which keeps me busy. I wanted to wait for something that really made sense for all involved and I think this partial season with Mikey, Unitronic and JDC-Miller Motorsports made a lot of sense just based on the knowledge that I was bringing to the table and the knowledge that the JDC crew and engineers are bringing to the table.

 
“I think we’re going to have four really strong races based on what these cars are capable of doing. To come back at Sebring, which is one of my favorite tracks based on history and we almost won it last year. I’m looking for a little bit of redemption this year. It is definitely something I’m looking forward to.”

 
Stars Aligned For Lamelas, ANSA Motorsports At Sebring
There may not be a team and driver with more momentum going into this weekend’s IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway than Leo Lamelas and ANSA Motorsports.

 
Defending Sebring winner? Check.

 
Daytona race-winning driver? Check.

 
Daytona race-winning team? Check.

 
Most recently Lamelas and Neil Alberico co-drove to the victory in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway in the No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3 as the duo raced its way from the back of the field after missing qualifying due to an engine change.

 
That followed ANSA Motorsports’ win in the inaugural Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring in November in the No. 13 Ligier JS P3 with Roman DeAngelis and Kyle Kirkwood.

 
And if the back-to-back race wins weren’t enough momentum heading into this weekend, Lamelas also won at Sebring last March driving for Charles Wicht Racing alongside co-driver Pato O’Ward.

 
“We are in a good position for the weekend,” said Lamelas. “The car is showing good work during practice and we won at Daytona, so the pace is there. I think we're going to have a good place tomorrow.”
 

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WORLD CHALLENGE

 

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International Motor Sports Association

Audi Finds Success on Track in MICHELIN Pilot Challenge,
off Track with North American Sales Market
 
March 21, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. With its win in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge last Friday at Sebring International Raceway, Audi’s plan of action for motorsports and business in North America is continuing to find success on and off the track.

 
The No. 39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal recorded an impressive five top-five finishes in 2018 as the only full-time Audi R8 LMS GT4 in the Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class. Yet its first win eluded the team until at Sebring. 

 
It was a dominating performance en route to victory, topping seven other manufacturers plus three additional Audi R8 GT4s new to the series this year, a second car for Carbahn and two from eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing.

 
“We’ve sold 25 R8 LMS GT4s in the US Market, so when we see them in competition with other manufacturers and the success of the past weekend, it’s huge for us,” said Tristan Herbert, Manager of Motorsports and Customer Racing for Audi of America. “It’s something we’ve been wanting to celebrate in the IMSA GS class. We definitely fought for it. The folks at Carbahn – Steve Dinan and drivers Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie – have just been so close to winning many races, last year when it was introduced to the market, and then this year at Daytona.

 
“It was great to see them win, but it’s also very important for us. We’re against our competitors in the market not from just the street car side, but also in motorsports.”

 
There are 60 different Audi customer racing programs in the North American market that Herbert and his colleague Bernd Goeres manage across three levels – TCR, GT4 and the top-tier GT3. Audi is currently the only IMSA manufacturer to offer cars in all three classes as part of its ladder system for drivers and teams. It’s also the only manufacturer competing for a sweep of the 2019 Pilot Challenge class championships in GS and TCR.

 
“Fifty percent of our entire sales are actually track day customers – Monticello in New York, Spring Mountain in Las Vegas, Thermal Club in California, Lime Rock in Connecticut,” explained Herbert. “We have a lot of customers that buy R8 LMS GT4’s and Audi RS3 LMS TCR cars who just go out and track them.

 
“We’ve been investing a lot of time in trying to cultivate the track market, the gentleman driver who’s running at The Thermal Club on the weekends. That’s why we work with teams like Matt Moran and eEuroparts to really find those guys that are ready to graduate from running the track days at the club level into competing in places like IMSA and other series.”

 
And why Audi, one might ask?

 
If clinching last year’s first-ever TCR championship in the Pilot Challenge, in addition to two Motul Pole Awards and one win between the two series classes already in 2019 isn’t enough, Herbert points to the level of support that the manufacturer provides race in, race out to its customer teams at track.

 
“We have a full-time dedicated engineer for the GT4 program and a full-time dedicated engineer for the TCR Audi program as well,” said Herbert. “Any technical issues, any support or questions they have related to the platform, we can answer on site at any IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race.

 
“We also have a really good parts support program for TCR. We’re the only brand that has a truck on site with TCR Audi parts. I don’t think any other manufacturer offers parts support which tells you how important this market is for us. We have the most TCR cars in the field and we also have a separate parts truck that supports the GT3 and GT4 programs.”

 
If the level of support is appealing to team owners and crews, Herbert credits the “drivability” of the car that is alluring to drivers, especially those just starting out in their professional racing career.

 
“We offer three levels of motorsports platforms, but they’re all factory-built cars that come with 50,000 kilometers of testing,” Herbert said. “What you’re getting is a very well-tuned product. Customers really like the fact that it’s easy to drive and when you get it, it’s turnkey.”

 
And for those teams and drivers like Carbahn Motorsports pulling out their long overdue victory at one of the toughest road courses in North America?

 
 “We give them the product, but at the end of the day I give the kudos to the teams because it’s execution and teamwork that wins races,” said Herbert. 
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts Delivers Stellar Results for IMSA
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 21, 2019) – Last Saturday’s 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts was a tremendous success both on and off the racetrack for IMSA and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

 
The four-day event – billed as “Super Sebring” with the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge’s Alan Jay 120, the one-hour, 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge race and the addition of Friday’s inaugural 1,000 Miles of Sebring FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) race set an all-time Sebring International Raceway attendance record. Ticket sales and camping increased by more than 40 percent from 2018 to 2019.

 
Event merchandise sales reached unprecedented levels this year, more than double what was considered an impressive sales figure in 2018. U.S. television viewership of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on CNBC and NBCSN saw a 46 percent increase over 2018.

 
On the track, three of the four classes in the Twelve Hours saw margins of victory under three seconds. That included an all-time record margin of victory overall of 1.030 seconds by the winning No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran over the second-place No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi co-driven by Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and Matthieu Vaxiviere.
 
“We could not be prouder of what we collectively accomplished last weekend at Sebring,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Two world-class sports endurance sports car races were flawlessly organized and executed, garnering rave reviews from fans, media, competitors and stakeholders.

 
“After 12 hours of intense racing, much of it occurring in challenging wet conditions, the margin of victory was just one second. The bottom line is, I am not aware of any other motorsports event that has generated this level of record-setting performance and year-over-year growth.”

 
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the 100-minute BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday, April 13. The race features only the DPi and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes as part of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach event weekend. Tickets are available now on GPLB.com.

 
NBCSN will have live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race beginning at 5 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also will cover the action live on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
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Mobil 1 Twelve Hours Of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts Delivers Stellar Results For IMSA

Last Saturday’s 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts was a tremendous success both on and off the racetrack for IMSA and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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Five Takeaways: Mobil 1 Twelve Hours Of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts

It was another grueling Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts last Saturday, made even more challenging by morning rain showers.

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No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi Squad Caps Dominant Day With Victory

They were the class of the field for the vast majority of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R team of Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran were rewarded with an overall victory in a grueling IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship battle on Saturday.

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Porsche Continues Sebring Dominance, Scores 96th Career Win At Track

No manufacturer has come close to Porsche’s success through the years at Sebring International Raceway, and while Saturday’s win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts brought its win total at the track to 96, this one certainly didn’t come easy.

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Past Champions Hold Slight Edge In IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Standings At Halfway Point

Experience is paying off in the race for the 2019 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, as previous champions are among the leaders in all four classes with two of four races already in the books.

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Carbahn Motorsports Scores Long Overdue Win In IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge At Sebring

On a steamy Friday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway, Carbahn Motorsports clinched its first victory in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge the way every team would wish to do so � in dominating fashion.

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McAleer Breaks Through For IMSA Prototype Challenge Win At 'Favorite Track In the World'

On a hot and muggy day at Sebring International Raceway � one of the most physically demanding road courses in the world � it was one of the few cars in the IMSA Prototype Challenge field with only one driver that came away with the checkered flag Thursday.

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Turning Sebring into a Super Speedway is no problem for IMSA drivers!

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Keating Team Gears Up For Huge Opportunity With Ford GT In 2019 24 Hours Of Le Mans

Ben Keating’s imagination is running wild just thinking about what his No. 85 Ford GT will look like at June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Past Champions Hold Slight Edge in IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Standings at Halfway Point
 
March 20, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Experience is paying off in the race for the 2019 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, as previous champions are among the leaders in all four classes with two of four races already in the books.

 
The stature of the Michelin Endurance Cup is such that teams – especially those that have won it before – build their race strategies around maximizing their points at each scoring interval. At the Rolex 24 At Daytona points were distributed after six, 12 and 18 hours as well as at the finish; at both the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and Motul Petit Le Mans, points are distributed at four and eight hours in addition to the finish and at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen the scoring intervals are at three hours and the checkered flag.

 
Since the inception of the Michelin Endurance Cup in 2014, Action Express Racing has won its class every year. It’s No. 5 Mustang Sampling team won the first four consecutive, while its No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi V.R team won last year’s Prototype title.

 
With a victory last Saturday at Sebring and a runner-up race result at Daytona, the No. 31 team and its co-drivers Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran are currently tied for the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) lead in the Michelin Endurance Cup standings with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi and its season-long co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande.

 
The No. 10 squad opened the year with a win at Daytona and finished second to the No. 31 team last weekend. Both teams are nine points ahead of the third-place No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi in the Michelin Endurance Cup standings. On the DPi manufacturer front, Cadillac leads Acura by six points, 34-28.

 
Two years ago, Performance Tech Motorsports won the Michelin Endurance Cup in the final season for the Prototype Challenge (PC) class. This year, the team is leading the LMP2 standings with co-drivers Cameron Cassels and Kyle Masson in the No. 38 ORECA, thanks in large part to scoring the maximum five points in all three scoring segments en route to their Sebring victory last weekend. They’re eight points ahead of the second place No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA team and drivers Matt McMurry and Gabriel Aubry.

 
After winning at Sebring, the No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR and its co-driving trio of Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki took the lead in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) Michelin Endurance Cup standings. The No. 911 team and Pilet won the Michelin Endurance Cup in 2017, while the team’s No. 912 Porsche entry also won in 2014.

 
The GTLM battle is a close one, with just one point separating the leading No. 911 team from the second-place No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT squad of Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.

 
In fact, there’s a two-way tie for third between the No. 66 Ford GT team of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais and the No. 912 Porsche trio of Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Matthieu Jaminet – and there’s just five points between first at last. Ford and Porsche are tied atop the Michelin Endurance Cup manufacturer standings with 21 points, three ahead of Chevrolet.

 
In the GT Daytona (GTD) class, the quest for a Michelin Endurance Cup threepeat by the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG and its Mercedes-AMG GT3 co-drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen is off to a solid start.

 
The No. 33 team, which also includes Brazilian driver Felipe Fraga, has a three-point lead, 25-22, over the Daytona- and Sebring-winning No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 team and drivers Mirko Bortolotti, Rik Breukers and Rolf Ineichen. Three teams are tied for third in the GTD standings with 18 points each.

 
Mercedes-AMG has the same three-point margin in the GTD manufacturer standings over Lamborghini, 25-22. Audi is currently third with 20 points.

 
The next Michelin Endurance Cup round is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 30.

 
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the 100-minute BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday, April 13. The race features only the DPi and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes as part of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach event weekend. Tickets are available now on GPLB.com.

 
NBCSN will have live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race beginning at 5 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also will cover the action live on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.

 

Keating Team Gears Up For Huge Opportunity With Ford GT
In 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
 
March 19, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ben Keating’s imagination is running wild just thinking about what his No. 85 Ford GT will look like at June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 
“With the purple and the pink and the orange, I mean, it just makes a great-looking race car,” said Keating, who confirmed last week that Wynn’s, which sponsors his No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, also will support his recently confirmed Le Mans program on June 15-16. “I’m really excited to see what we come up with as a livery for our Ford GT.”

 
The excitement doesn’t stop there for Keating, longtime co-driver, Jeroen Bleekemolen or their 2019 endurance teammate Felipe Fraga. After all, they’re going to be racing a Ford GT at the Circuit de la Sarthe – a car that longtime Ford GT driver and 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro winner Joey Hand says was specifically designed to race at Le Mans.

 
And they’re going to be the first privateer team ever to get their hands on a Ford GT.

 
“It’s surreal,” Keating said. “I’m a third-generation Ford dealer. I grew up in the Ford business. My grandfather and my father and all my uncles, they were all Ford dealers, and my very first dealership ever was a Ford dealership. So, I had this deep history with Ford and Ford obviously has a deep history at Le Mans.”

 
A large part of that history was four consecutive Le Mans victories from 1966 through 1969 by Ford GT40 race cars. Among those who worked on that program was respected racing engineer Bob Riley, whose son, Bill, has fielded Keating’s WeatherTech Championship programs for the past several years and will guide the Keating Motorsports efforts this year at Le Mans.

 
“I’ve known the Ford people my whole life,” said Bill Riley. “I’m a Ford kid. I was born in Dearborn, Michigan. My dad was a Ford employee and he worked on the Ford GT program in the ‘60s. So, to get the opportunity to be with Ben and run the Ford GT at Le Mans was pretty special.”

 
Bleekemolen is the only one of the drivers who knows the special feeling of winning at Le Mans, having scored an LMP2 class victory there in 2008. Fraga is making his first run this year and Keating’s best outing in four previous appearances was third in the GTE Am class last year in a Ferrari he fielded in partnership with Risi Competizione. With this car, Bleekemolen knows he has a great shot at winning again.

 
“Yeah, the whole effort is there to try and win it,” Bleekemolen said. “We finished third last year, so we know where to improve. I think the whole package is unbelievably strong. It’s a great car. It’s won Le Mans in (GTE) Pro before.”

 
The specific car they’ll be using is the same one Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe drove to three straight WeatherTech Championship GTLM victories at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016. Riley and the Ganassi team are working closely together, rekindling a relationship that goes back more than a decade in GRAND-AM Daytona Prototypes.

 
“Between Chip Ganassi and Multimatic and Ford Performance, with their support and them telling us what they’ve learned through the years, we should have a pretty good setup,” Keating said. “We should have some pretty good support and we expect to do great things.”

 
With that support, all three drivers got their first taste of the Ford GT at Sebring International Raceway in the break between January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, where they finished sixth in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, and last Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts where they finished fifth in class.

 
“That was great,” said Bleekemolen of the first test. “We had the whole Ganassi team there, they were testing their own cars and we gelled right in there. The car felt really good. All three drivers drove – Felipe and Ben as well – and the pace was good. I almost feel that we’re already ready to go for Le Mans.”

 
Before that, they’ve still got some work to do, not least of which is May’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio which is the next WeatherTech Championship round for the GTD class. 

 

Five Takeaways: Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Presented by Advance Auto Parts
 
March 18, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It was another grueling Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts last Saturday, made even more challenging by morning rain showers.

 
But a strong field of 38 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams and many of the world’s best sports car racers put on a show that won’t soon be forgotten. In the end, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R shared by Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran won in the closest finish ever at Sebring – as Nasr crossed the stripe just 1.030 seconds ahead of Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi.

 
The GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) races were also close. The No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR of Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki won at Sebring for the second straight year by just 1.951 seconds over the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais in GTLM. In GTD, just 2.724 seconds separated the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Rik Breukers from the second-place No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini of Andy Lally, John Potter and Spencer Pumpelly.

 
Let’s take a closer look at the action with our five takeaways from Sebring:

 
1. Clean and Green for the Most Part
If the over/under on full-course yellows going into the race was set at five, most people definitely would have taken the over, especially with mornings rains that caused the race to start behind the safety car. But if you would have bet the over, you’d have lost.

 
The track was still plenty damp when the green flag flew for the first time 40 minutes into the race, but aside from a spin or two – and an epic save by Tom Blomqvist after getting all kinds of squirrely when he blasted through a puddle on the frontstretch – everybody got through the rainy period relatively unscathed.

 
In fact, the first full-course caution after the initial green flag didn’t come out until two hours and 21 minutes into the race and it was for a mechanical issue on the No. 77 Mazda DPi. The next one after that didn’t come until three and a half hours later, when Jonathan Bomarito slipped off course into the Turn 14 tire barrier in the No. 55 Mazda. It was the only FCY of the day involving contact, and the team was able to repair the No. 55 relatively quickly and get it back on track for the duration.

 
The final two – one in the 10th hour for the No. 9 Starworks Motorsport Audi and the other with less than 15 minutes left in the race for the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW – both were for mechanical issues.

 
Sebring is a tough track under any circumstances and it was a tremendous job by the whole field to keep it clean and green for the most part.

 
2. Lamborghini’s 72 Hours of Florida Sweep
Since its victory in the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 has been the car to have in Florida endurance races. In three of those races – both Rolex 24s and last Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts – it was the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team entry taking the honors, while the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini won last year at Sebring.

 
The Italian manufacturer went a step further last Saturday in Sebring, sweeping the top two positions on the GTD podium, with the No. 44 Magnus Racing Huracán coming home just behind the No. 11 Grasser Lamborghini.

 
Which Lamborghini would win was very much in question for the final hour of the race, though. Lally kept the pressure on Bortolotti and pulled out almost all the stops to get what would have been his and Potter’s second Sebring win for Magnus.

 
“Man, when you’ve won Sebring already, the only other thing to do is win it again,” Lally said. “So, a second stings a little bit, especially being that close. It’s not like we made a pass from third to second on the last lap. We were right there for the last two hours. We were just pace for pace and we’d get separated a little bit and go back and separated and go back.

 
“Probably if he wasn’t a Lamborghini, I’m going to be totally honest, I would’ve nerfed him in (Turn) 5 and just moved him off the groove a little bit. But I know that wouldn’t be good manufacturer relations for only our second race with Lamborghini. I’ve got to applaud them for helping us build a really good car, and obviously a 1-2 finish.”

 
3. Five Straight Sebring Podiums for Scuderia Corsa
While Lamborghinis may have won back-to-back years at Sebring, there’s no GTD team that has performed better over the last half decade than the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari program. On Saturday, Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander and Jeff Westphal brought the WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 home in third place, marking the team’s fifth consecutive podium at Sebring.

 
“To take our fifth consecutive podium at Sebring felt great and is a testament to the talent of our team,” said Scuderia Corsa Team Owner Giacomo Mattioli. “I am very pleased with the performance of everyone, from the drivers to the crew, who gave this race their all. Our car was strong when it mattered the most, at the end of the race. I’m really happy for Cooper and Jeff, and Toni handled a very high-pressure end to the race, but delivered the car clean and on the podium.”

 
4. Close But No Cigar – Again – for No. 67 Ford GT Squad
Under different circumstances, the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT and its trio of drivers – Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon – would be 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona and/or Twelve Hours of Sebring winners.

 
At Daytona, a late pit stop just two laps from what ended up being the finish of the rain-shortened race took them from the lead to fourth in the final race standings. At Sebring, the No. 67 dominated most of the race, leading 270 of the 330 laps GT Le Mans (GTLM) laps completed.

 
Late-race yellows played right into the hands of the GTLM-winning No. 911 Porsche, enabling them to get into the lead on strategy. But the No. 67 was fast and Briscoe was charging on the race’s final restart with under 10 minutes remaining until he spun while trying to overtake Lally – who was between him and Tandy and was trying to win his own race in GTD.

 
With that, the No. 67 fell back to sixth in the final race standings.

 
“You always end up having a fight on your hands until the very end,” Westbrook said. “Ryan and Scott did an amazing job. It looked like it was going to come down to fuel mileage at the end until about 15 minutes to go. Ryan was trying to hang on and get around lapped traffic, fighting all the way to the end. I’m proud of the team and the effort overall and look forward to Long Beach.”

 
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing still managed a podium result despite the late spin, as the No. 66 Ford GT came home second with Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais.

 
“(After) that last yellow it got fun, man,” Hand said. “It was like the old days. We were racing through GTDs, I think I passed, like, eight cars in five corners. We were just talking about it. It’s all about the show, right? As long as the fans had a good show, that’s what I come here for. I love for people to come to the fence and cheer.”

 
5. No. 7 Acura DPi Squad Salvages Fourth After Early Struggles
After Dane Cameron scored the Motul Pole Award in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi and Helio Castroneves put the No. 7 Acura third on the starting grid in Friday qualifying, the two-car squad had high hopes for a strong run in Saturday’s race.

 
But the wet conditions early on proved diabolical for both cars. Cameron fell back in the field as soon as the green flag was displayed and the No. 6 trio of Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud battled electrical issues throughout the race – leaving them ninth at the checkered flag.

 
The No. 7 of Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi also had their hands full with the wet setup, culminating in a spin by Taylor in Turn 17 in which Taylor’s belts came unfastened and forcing an unscheduled pit stop. The No. 7 Acura ended up losing two laps early on, but gamely stayed in the battle and eventually found their way back to the lead lap.

 
In the end, the No. 7 came home fourth on a day that could have been much worse. That performance coupled with their third-place showing in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona has Taylor and Castroneves just nine points out of the two-way tie for first in the DPi point standings between the Daytona-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team and season-long co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande, and the Sebring-winning No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi of Nasr and Derani.

 
“We really got behind the 8-ball right from the beginning in the wet,” said Rossi. “The entire Acura Team Penske organization rallied after that to make up a two-lap deficit without any yellow flags to help us out as much as we would have liked. To bring the No. 7 Acura home in fourth, kind of a ‘best of the rest’ situation, is a positive, but we come here wanting to win.”

 
Salvaging a fourth-place result on a day like that, though, may go a long way in the DPi championship battle later on.

 

 

in or Shine, It’s Go Time at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts
 
March 16, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. - Mother nature will play a role in the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, but the show will go on as scheduled this morning starting at 10:30 a.m. ET.

 
CNBC will kick off NBC Sports’ complete live U.S. coverage starting at 10:30 a.m. ET. At 1 p.m. ET, coverage shifts to the NBC Sports App for two hours before moving to NBCSN for the duration of the Twelve Hours. IMSA Radio also will have complete live coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Drivers got a taste of wet track conditions in this morning’s 20-minute warm up session. The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R spun and made relatively light contact with a barrier, but the GT Daytona (GTD) class car Hargrove shares with Zacharie Robichon and Lars Kern is expected to be on the grid and ready to race. A few other cars also spun during the warm-up session, but none incurred any substantial damage.

 
The wet weather is a departure from the bright sunshine and warm temperatures the teams and drivers experienced throughout the week at Sebring International Raceway. Wet conditions bring an added challenge for the competitors to overcome in the Twelve Hours.

 
“I think we have a very good car for the race, as we’ve seen on the dry,” said No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R driver Pipo Derani, who is going for his third overall victory four Sebring starts. “On the wet, it changes completely, but I’m hoping for just a safe race. If it’s rain, I’m pretty sure we’re going to figure something out, but for now we have a good car in the dry.

 
“If it could stay dry, I think it’s less chaos for everyone. It makes it for a better show for the fans, so I would prefer dry racing, but you never know. It’s a 12-hour race. It can have plenty of types of weather conditions during 12 hours, so we’ve just got to be focused and maintain our calm to get to the end.”

 
Derani’s Action Express Racing teammate, Filipe Albuquerque is ready to race regardless of the weather conditions.

 
“I really don’t care,” said Albuquerque, who is co-driving the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R with Joao Barbosa and Brendon Hartley. “I just want to win the race. We’ll see as it goes. We have a good car for the race, for sure.

 
“I think in the rain, it’s more of a gamble for everyone and we just need to be the best on that as well. Sometimes it can go dry and you wish that it was rain, so that would mess around a little bit for you. For me, I’ve done that, so it’s whatever it is.

 

Nunez Ready to Rock in Mazda DPi and “Acceleration” Band at Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts
 
March 15, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – Are you ready to rock? I said, ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?
 
Tristan Nunez is, which is a good thing, since he’s got a lot of rocking and rolling to do over the next day-and-a-half at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. Friday morning, Nunez will be doing his day job, which is co-driving the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi car with Oliver Jarvis and Timo Bernhard.

 
That includes qualifying for Saturday’s legendary 12-hour race, and Nunez has a good shot, as the team was strong in practice on Thursday. Qualifying starts at 9:55 a.m. ET and will be streamed live on IMSA.tv.

 
After qualifying, Nunez will debrief with the team and set a plan for tomorrow’s race. And then … he’s going to be onstage in the Spring Brake Party Zone in the world-famous infield of the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit.

 
And he won’t be there to do a driver Q&A or Fan Forum. Nope, Nunez is there to perform with his band.
“The band’s name is ‘Acceleration,’ which is pretty fitting, actually, for this year for Mazda,” Nunez said. “It’s the ‘Year of Acceleration’ as they like to call it. It’s their little slogan for this year, so it kind of worked out perfectly.

 
“It’s me, my dad, who’s a bass player, and then a family friend of ours. So, I play drums on some of the songs and vocals, and I’ll play guitar and vocals for some of the songs as well. It’s going to be fun. We’re doing a couple covers and then some of my original songs that I’ve written and have composed with the band. They come across really nicely, and I think on a live performance it’s going to sound really well.”

 
Nunez explained the band will be playing a mix of classic rock covers and original “alternative rock” songs he’s written and composed with his bandmates. It’s something he’s been doing for the past four years, and he applies the same focus to music that he does to driving the race car.

 
“I think there’s a lot of similarities,” he said. “With every musician and every driver, I think it’s different the way they prepare, but for me, it’s going to be the same. I just cannot think about it. If I overthink it, then I’m just going to dig myself into a rut, and I would do the same thing in the race car.

 
“If I overthink qualifying before I go out there, I’d overthink things and I’d make some mistakes. I think it’s going to be the same thing when I’m performing. I just need to not think about it at all, think about qualifying and then get on stage and do my thing.”

 
And when it happens, it’ll be the realization of a dream he’s had for some time.

 
“I think when I get on stage, I’m going to be all about it,” he said. “It’s going to be fun. I’m really excited. I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

 
“It’s been actually kind of a dream of mine to play here. I remember seeing the stage just on the inside of the front straightaway in years past. Now that it’s in the big fan zone with the new bridge, it’s going to be awesome.”
Event

mobil 1 twelve hours of sebring
Presented by advance auto parts

As IMSA celebrates its 50th anniversary season, it fittingly embarks this weekend on North America’s oldest endurance race � the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

One of the most grueling tests of sports car endurance racing anywhere in the world begins this Saturday, March 16 shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET with live television of the start and opening hours on CNBC. Continuing coverage will be available on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN.

International, flag-to-flag coverage is available on IMSA.com and a variety of international television outlets, as well as IMSA Radio commentary on RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.

IMSA.tv, meanwhile, will bring both domestic and international fans live streaming Friday of Motul Pole Award qualifying for the WeatherTech Championship at 9:55 a.m. ET., followed by the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 event at 12:05 p.m. ET.

Visit IMSA.com for full details.

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March 13 - 16
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Friday, March 15: 9:55 AM - 11:00 AM ET
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Saturday, March 16: 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM ET
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Friday, March 15: 12:05 PM - 2:05 PM ET
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Tune-In: Mobil 1 Twelve Hours Of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts

One of the most grueling tests of sports car endurance racing anywhere in the world begins this Saturday, March 16 shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET with live television of the start and opening hours on CNBC.

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How To Watch

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Sebring Notebook: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

Check out live updates from the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

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News and notes from the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge throughout the weekend at Sebring.

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Throwback Thursday:
2000 Twelve Hours Of Sebring

Just days before the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, flash back to the race’s running in 2000.

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What It's Like Out There: A Lap Of Sebring According To Allan McNish

The 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway course layout is one of the most challenging and respected anywhere in the world.

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St. James Recalls 1990 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours Of Sebring Victory; "Hardest Track I've Ever Raced On"

Lyn St. James co-drove to the GTO class victory in the 1990 Twelve Hours of Sebring alongside current NBC Sports IMSA commentator Calvin Fish and racer’s racer Robby Gordon in a Roush Racing-prepared Mercury Cougar XR-7.

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NASCAR Stars Swap Trucks For Sports Car This Weekend In IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge At Sebring

Four drivers entered in this weekend’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway may be new names to sports car fans, but most are definitely not to NASCAR fans.

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Socially Speaking

This week�s top social post featured a look at Corvette Racing now and then at Sebring International Raceway.

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Ferrari Challenge Opens North American Season At Circuit Of The Americas

First winners of 2019 crowned at Circuit of The Americas.

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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Stars In Real Racing 3 For First Time

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Event

mobil 1 twelve hours of sebring
Presented by advance auto parts

As IMSA celebrates its 50th anniversary season, it fittingly embarks this weekend on North America’s oldest endurance race � the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

One of the most grueling tests of sports car endurance racing anywhere in the world begins this Saturday, March 16 shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET with live television of the start and opening hours on CNBC. Continuing coverage will be available on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN.

International, flag-to-flag coverage is available on IMSA.com and a variety of international television outlets, as well as IMSA Radio commentary on RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.

IMSA.tv, meanwhile, will bring both domestic and international fans live streaming Friday of Motul Pole Award qualifying for the WeatherTech Championship at 9:55 a.m. ET., followed by the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 event at 12:05 p.m. ET. IMSA.tv will also be home to Round 2 of the IMSA Prototype Challenge on Thursday at 12:35 p.m. ET.

Visit IMSA.com for full details.

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March 13 - 16
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Friday, March 15: 9:55 AM - 11:00 AM ET
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NASCAR Stars Swap Trucks for Sports Cars This Weekend in
MICHELIN Pilot Challenge at Sebring
 
March 13, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. Four drivers entered in this weekend’s IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway may be new names to sports car fans, but most are definitely not to NASCAR fans.

 
Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes and Myatt Snider – all ThorSport Racing drivers in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – are entered with Ford Performance and Multimatic Motorsports for Friday’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring.

 
The opportunity comes as part of Ford Performance’s NASCAR Driver Development Program, which was first announced in 2017. The program gives road course experience to NASCAR drivers, as well as learning to work together, bond and depend on each other as teammates.

 
"We've been thrilled with the program so far and the experience it is getting to some of our NASCAR development drivers,” said Mark Rushbrook, the Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “The 2018 season was the first year we tried it, and outside of Austin Cindric, we had three other drivers in NASCAR Xfinity with little or no road course experience. The IMSA GS class provided them a chance to not only practice being better road course drivers, but also better road course racers, learning road course race craft like how to set up passes, and what kind of feedback to give to their crew chiefs and their fellow drivers.”

 
This will be the first start in the Pilot Challenge for each of the four drivers and they sure picked one of the toughest tracks to make their debut, as Sebring has long been known for its bumpy and physically demanding surface.

 
Matt Crafton, the veteran of the group and the first driver to ever win back-to-back Truck Series titles (2013 and 2014), knows that road course skills are crucial to have in NASCAR.

 
“You have to be good on all types of tracks to compete for a NASCAR championship, and this opportunity with Ford Performance and Multimatic Motorsports, to race a Mustang GT4, will give us the valuable road course experience we need as we get ready to race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park later this year,” Crafton said. “I love road course racing, and I have a blast doing it, so I’m really looking forward to the added seat time, and the challenge of racing in a new series, and on a new track.”

 
Crafton will be co-driving the No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 with Grant Enfinger, who currently leads the Truck Series standings by six points, three races into the 2019 season.

 
“I hear Sebring is a challenge because the track is tight, and there’s a lot of congestion, but it will be a great opportunity to hone in on my road course racing skills for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, later this year,” said Enfinger, the 2015 ARCA Racing Series Champion. “Just getting seat time, and making laps in a competitive car, with a competitive team, with the backing of Ford Performance, is imperative as I continue to develop my road course racing skills.”

 
In the No. 15 Ford Mustang GT4 will be Snider, the 2018 Truck Series Rookie of the Year, and Rhodes, who won the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship and Rookie of the Year.

 
“Last autumn I got to test with Multimatic in a Mustang GT4,” Snider explained. “I had a blast wheeling the stallion around Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and ever since then I've been itching for a taste of IMSA racing. So, I'm happy to be racing Sebring this weekend in a Ford Performance MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Mustang. Myself and Ben Rhodes have been working hard at getting ourselves up to par to go compete this weekend, so overall, I'm very excited to get going for my first IMSA race."

 
“IMSA is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time; so I have to give a huge thank you to Ford Performance and Multimatic for this opportunity,” Rhodes added. “Sebring is such a historic venue, and it’s pretty awesome to make my first start there. It’s going to be a fun challenge, and will hopefully make me a better road course racer.”

 
The first on-track action the NASCAR drivers will see will be on Wednesday morning and early afternoon as part of a promoter test day. On the official schedule, three practices for the Pilot Challenge are slated for Thursday before qualifying that evening at 5:55 p.m. ET.

 
The two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 goes green on Friday at noon ET and can be streamed live on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary. To follow along with the action, fans can use the hashtags #AlanJay120 and #IMPC.
What It’s Like Out There: A Lap of Sebring According to Allan McNish
 
March 12, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway course layout is one of the most challenging and respected anywhere in the world.

 
Built on the site of the former Hendricks Army Airfield used in World War II, the track uses a combination of former concrete runways – the same concrete from back in the day – and asphalt sections. It’s memorable enough to remain fresh in the mind of Allan McNish, a four-time Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts overall winner and the grand marshal of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 12-hour event and Friday’s FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring.

 
Here’s the Sebring racetrack according to McNish:

 
“You could stand at the outside of Turn 1 and just watch a car going through there, and you could see the driver – even in a closed-cockpit car – you could see the driver sweating and having to hang onto it. The car’s bucking around underneath you, trying to make sure you don’t have a little bit too much lateral load onto the right rear as you come over the bump from the concrete onto the tarmac at the exit of 1, because that could quite easily spit you into the barrier on the left-hand side.

 
“Just things like that, you get a real feeling that these cars are going so quick. Like, so, so fast. A small mistake is a huge mistake in terms of the consequences at Sebring. That, I think, made us as drivers treat it with a lot of respect. At the same time, the fans could really watch it. When I say fans, I’m talking about us drivers who weren’t qualifying, going and watching out there just to see how much your teammate is giving it one, because you could see it live and it gave such feedback. That’s one very special thing about it.

 
“There’s not many corners, in all honesty, at Sebring, where you didn’t really have to be on top of your game. I talked about 1, that’s because of the bumps, the fast entry speed and the blind apex and the fact the track narrows up on exit.

 
“But then you talk about 3, going into 3 at the chicane there. You hit the brakes and you’ve got to watch out, because there’s a little dip on the right-hand side and it’s easy to lock the right-front into there. It’s also easy to brake too early, because then you miss your apex and then you lose the front and it washes out and it compromises you in 4 and into 5 and then all the way down into 7.

 
“At 5, you’ve got to change your line through the race, because it hooks up in a different way from the start of the race to the middle to the end. At 7, again, you’ve got to change your line, and you’ve also got to be careful in the first attack on the braking.

 
“At 10, you can brake so deep into 10 that you cannot believe when the grip’s there. You’ve got to adapt and understand what you can do and how you can overtake on the inside in 10, as well, which at some points in the race is not so easy.

 
“Through 11, 12 and into 13, can you overtake into 13 or not? It’s a big risk, so you need to be able to do it in traffic, because you can lose a second out of 13 following a GT car through there. But at the same time, you need to have the front grip to be able to achieve it.

 
“Then, into 15, floating so much speed into 15 without compromising your run through 16 and onto the back straight. So, every corner itself, before you sort of take the big deep breath and wing around the wall and over the bumps in 17, it requires total focus and concentration. That’s why it’s a really, really cool one. I’ve got memories of every single corner and something that’s gone on at every single corner.”

 
McNish is convinced that the track layout is one of the key reasons why thousands of race fans return each year, as they will again this week. Tradition is a valuable commodity in motorsports, and Sebring has it in spades.

 
“From watching videos of Stirling Moss driving around there whenever it was (Moss won in 1954), it hasn’t really changed that much from then either,” he said. “That’s something that gives it a real character. It’s something that I think as well, when you go back, you’ve got a memory of something that you can really attach to.

 
“I’m sure that’s why the fans come back and they come back every single year in droves. They’ve got their rituals. If you go back a few years, you do build up the relationship with the particular sets of fans. The one that most people think of, obviously, is the Turn 10 Club, but those guys, they live and love and breathe it just as much as we do as competitors or drivers or team bosses or whatever it is. That gives that race a special, one-off, unique atmosphere that I’ve never found anywhere else.”

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, with continuing coverage on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout race week on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and the IMSA App, with IMSA Radio’s race call available on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Tickets for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring event week, which has been dubbed the “Super Sebring” event weekend, are available now on SebringRaceway.com. Race week also includes a 1,000-mile FIA World Endurance Championship race and the two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge on Friday, March 15; and a one-hour and 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge race on Thursday, March 14.
Eleven Drivers, One Team Set for Double Duty at “Super Sebring”
 
March 13, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is widely considered one of the most grueling races in motorsport all by itself.

 
But for 11 drivers and one IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team, the Twelve Hours will represent only about 60 percent of the battle with the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway circuit. That’s because they’ll also compete in Friday’s FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 1000 Miles of Sebring as part of the first “Super Sebring” event co-headlined by the WeatherTech Championship and the WEC.

 
While there are five manufacturers with race cars in both events, Corvette Racing is the only complete team running cars in both races. It’ll field its familiar pair of Corvette C7.Rs – the No. 3 for Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller and the No. 4 for Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler – in the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the Twelve Hours.

 
On Friday, Magnussen, Garcia and Rockenfeller will compete in the 1000 Miles – which is expected to last approximately eight hours – co-driving the No. 63 Corvette in the GTE Pro class. The drivers know that 20 hours of racing in a 30-and-a-half hour-period is going to be a challenge, especially here.

 
“In a way, it’s a good thing because I love both championships and to be able to race more is always good,” Garcia said. “But to be here at Sebring, where it’s probably one of the most physical racetracks, it can get a little bit hard, so I don’t know. We’ve been training.

 
“I mean, I was working out a little bit harder just to be more prepared towards this race, because I don’t want to miss anything. Let’s see how the WEC race influences how tired you are for the Twelve Hours. I think I’m as prepared as I can be and I think the team is as well.”

 
Another driver pulling double duty this weekend is 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner and current WeatherTech Championship DPi class points co-leader Renger van der Zande. The Dutchman is sharing the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in the DPi class for the Twelve Hours with Jordan Taylor and Matthieu Vaxiviere and the No. 10 Dragonspeed BR01-Gibson with Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman in the LMP1 class for the 1000 Miles.

 
“It’s going to be tough,” van der Zande said. “We are used to racing for 24 hours, but I think 24 hours in Sebring – there is no 24-hour in Sebring because it’s so heavy here. Twelve hours is normally enough, and for sure it would have been enough for me as well, but I’m doing the full season in IMSA and I’m doing most of the season in WEC and, well, it happened that it’s in the same weekend, so I’m up for it. I trained hard in the last three, four months, especially for this weekend.”

 
Other prototype drivers doing the double are Brendon Hartley in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi (IMSA DPi) and the No. 17 SMP Racing BR1-AER (WEC LMP1); Vaxiviere in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi (IMSA DPi) and the No. 28 ORECA-Gibson (WEC LMP2); and Gabriel Aubry in the No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA (IMSA LMP2) and the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA-Gibson (WEC LMP2).

 
All three drivers of Mazda Team Joest’s Twelve Hours effort in the No. 55 RT-24P DPi car also will be competing in the 1000 Miles, all with the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK squad. Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito, who share the No. 55 Mazda full-time in the WeatherTech Championship, are pairing up in the No. 67 Ford GT in the WEC GTE Pro class alongside co-driver Andy Priaulx.

 
Olivier Pla – a three-time pole winner for the Twelve Hours – is co-driving with Bomarito and Tincknell as part of the team’s IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup lineup. He’s in his regular ride on Friday, the No. 66 Ford GT with co-drivers Stefan Mucke and Billy Johnson.

 
Like the Corvette Racing trio, Patrick Lindsey also is driving both races in GT machinery. He’ll be in his No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in the WeatherTech Championship race with Patrick Long and Nicholas Boulle, and the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR with Joerg Bergmeister and Egidio Perfetti in the WEC race.

 
The 1000 Miles of Sebring takes the green flag Friday at 4 p.m. ET time. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts starts at 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday.

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, with continuing coverage on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout race week on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and the IMSA App, with IMSA Radio’s race call available on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Tickets for “Super Sebring,” are still available on SebringRaceway.com. The race week also includes the two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge on Friday, March 15; and a one-hour and 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge race on Thursday, March 14.

 

One Year After Making History, House Looking To Return
To Sebring Victory Lane at Age of 76 
 
March 13, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – IMSA history was made one year ago this weekend at Sebring International Raceway when Dave House wheeled his No. 86 Elan DP02 to the IMSA Prototype Challenge MPC class victory at 75 years young to become what is believed to be IMSA’s oldest race winner. It was his first career win and came at one of North America’s most prestigious – and physically demanding – road courses.

 
So what is House looking to do for an encore? Win at the age of 76, of course.

 
“I'm really looking forward to it,” House said of returning to Sebring. “I was 75 last year when I won. This year I'll be 76 when I win, assuming I can win of course. But there's a whole new field, a whole new car, a much heavier car, a lot more horsepower, power steering, so it's not as hard to drive.”

 
As the IMSA Prototype Challenge shifts to a single-class LMP3 platform for 2019, House is one of many drivers moving up from the MPC class. Ironically, the driver he beat for the win one year ago, Paul LaHaye, will be his co-driver this year in the No. 86 ONE Motorsports Ligier JS P3.

 
“The MPC car is much lighter, it has less horsepower,” he added. “This has a lot more torque and weighs a lot more. This has got power steering as opposed to very stiff, manual steering on the other car. So, this is less work. Maybe a year older this will be an easier car to drive and it'll help me. This is my first time driving in a closed car, racing in a closed car, first time racing a V8, so it's a really big change for me. It's taking a little bit of time to get used to, but I'm really looking forward to it.”

 
In the season opener at Daytona in January, House finished 16th. He noted that while more seat time is certainly a help, the differences between the high banks of Daytona and the notorious bumps of Sebring will be a challenge.

 
“(Daytona) is much simpler,” he said. “A big banking, straightaways. Sebring has got all kinds of turns and of course, those awful bumps that beat the daylights out of you. Hopefully with this heavier car, it'll be a little more comfortable going over those bumps at Sebring.”

 
The one hour, 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge race will go green at 12:35 p.m. ET on Thursday and will be streamed live on IMSA.tv. All IMSA Prototype Challenge races will be shown on NBCSN throughout the season with the Sebring broadcast on Thursday, March 28 at 2 p.m. ET.

 
You can follow along with the conversation throughout this race weekend by using #IMSAPC.
Potter Recalls Capturing “Crown Jewel” Sebring Win
In First Year of Merged IMSA Series
 
March 13, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – Back in 2014, a North American sports car racing dream became reality.

 
The biggest endurance races in North America were on the same schedule. Thanks to the merger between GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) – the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans – were finally all part of the same series and schedule.

 
With it came the opportunity for teams who had been competing in one series or the other to chase the glory of additional crown jewels that were previously part of the other series. Such was the case for Magnus Racing.

 
The team won the GT class in both the 50th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the inaugural GRAND-AM race at the hallowed ground of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2012. But 2014 brought the team’s first shot at a Twelve Hours of Sebring win.

 
“There were GRAND-AM and ALMS teams, and an ALMS team had just won Daytona, so coming in here, no one knew which way it was going to go,” remembers Magnus Racing owner/driver John Potter. “Being from the GRAND-AM side, people thought maybe the ALMS teams might be a little better, a little more familiar having Sebring practice. Certainly, any time at Sebring is helpful with all the bumps.

 
“Setting up the car and everything is an experience game, so we came in here sort of as underdogs, sort of unexpected. But we were hungry for more. We had won all the big races over on the GRAND-AM side and Sebring was the biggest jewel on the ALMS side, so we were determined.”

 
That determination paid off in a big way. Potter and his No. 44 Porsche co-drivers, Andy Lally and Marco Seefried, came away with the GT Daytona (GTD) class victory after an eventful 12 hours of racing.

 
“The short version is, we fought a long race, and managed to – with some good strategy calls and quick driving by everybody – pull out a really amazing win here,” Potter said. “Having won those other big races, there’s still nothing that compares to a Sebring win on top of that podium with that silver plate.”

 
He’ll go for another one this Saturday in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 alongside longtime co-driver Lally and Spencer Pumpelly. Potter likes his chances, especially considering that a Lamborghini won last year’s GTD race in the hands of the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing squad and drivers Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis.

 
“Andy and I have driven together so many times,” Potter said. “It’s always great to drive here with him. Spencer and I have driven together many, many times too. Both great drivers. I think we’ve got a great driver lineup for it.

 
“As far as the car, our Lamborghini is ready to go, right? Lamborghini has got some history here too, I believe, in fact, winning last year. We just hope to repeat it, but with the Magnus Racing name on it instead of that other team that also happens to be back.”

 

What It’s Like Out There: A Lap of Sebring According to Allan McNish
 
March 12, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. The 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway course layout is one of the most challenging and respected anywhere in the world.

 
Built on the site of the former Hendricks Army Airfield used in World War II, the track uses a combination of former concrete runways – the same concrete from back in the day – and asphalt sections. It’s memorable enough to remain fresh in the mind of Allan McNish, a four-time Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts overall winner and the grand marshal of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 12-hour event and Friday’s FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring.

 
Here’s the Sebring racetrack according to McNish:

 
“You could stand at the outside of Turn 1 and just watch a car going through there, and you could see the driver – even in a closed-cockpit car – you could see the driver sweating and having to hang onto it. The car’s bucking around underneath you, trying to make sure you don’t have a little bit too much lateral load onto the right rear as you come over the bump from the concrete onto the tarmac at the exit of 1, because that could quite easily spit you into the barrier on the left-hand side.

 
“Just things like that, you get a real feeling that these cars are going so quick. Like, so, so fast. A small mistake is a huge mistake in terms of the consequences at Sebring. That, I think, made us as drivers treat it with a lot of respect. At the same time, the fans could really watch it. When I say fans, I’m talking about us drivers who weren’t qualifying, going and watching out there just to see how much your teammate is giving it one, because you could see it live and it gave such feedback. That’s one very special thing about it.

 
“There’s not many corners, in all honesty, at Sebring, where you didn’t really have to be on top of your game. I talked about 1, that’s because of the bumps, the fast entry speed and the blind apex and the fact the track narrows up on exit.

 
“But then you talk about 3, going into 3 at the chicane there. You hit the brakes and you’ve got to watch out, because there’s a little dip on the right-hand side and it’s easy to lock the right-front into there. It’s also easy to brake too early, because then you miss your apex and then you lose the front and it washes out and it compromises you in 4 and into 5 and then all the way down into 7.

 
“At 5, you’ve got to change your line through the race, because it hooks up in a different way from the start of the race to the middle to the end. At 7, again, you’ve got to change your line, and you’ve also got to be careful in the first attack on the braking.

 
“At 10, you can brake so deep into 10 that you cannot believe when the grip’s there. You’ve got to adapt and understand what you can do and how you can overtake on the inside in 10, as well, which at some points in the race is not so easy.

 
“Through 11, 12 and into 13, can you overtake into 13 or not? It’s a big risk, so you need to be able to do it in traffic, because you can lose a second out of 13 following a GT car through there. But at the same time, you need to have the front grip to be able to achieve it.

 
“Then, into 15, floating so much speed into 15 without compromising your run through 16 and onto the back straight. So, every corner itself, before you sort of take the big deep breath and wing around the wall and over the bumps in 17, it requires total focus and concentration. That’s why it’s a really, really cool one. I’ve got memories of every single corner and something that’s gone on at every single corner.”

 
McNish is convinced that the track layout is one of the key reasons why thousands of race fans return each year, as they will again this week. Tradition is a valuable commodity in motorsports, and Sebring has it in spades.

 
“From watching videos of Stirling Moss driving around there whenever it was (Moss won in 1954), it hasn’t really changed that much from then either,” he said. “That’s something that gives it a real character. It’s something that I think as well, when you go back, you’ve got a memory of something that you can really attach to.

 
“I’m sure that’s why the fans come back and they come back every single year in droves. They’ve got their rituals. If you go back a few years, you do build up the relationship with the particular sets of fans. The one that most people think of, obviously, is the Turn 10 Club, but those guys, they live and love and breathe it just as much as we do as competitors or drivers or team bosses or whatever it is. That gives that race a special, one-off, unique atmosphere that I’ve never found anywhere else.”

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, with continuing coverage on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout race week on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and the IMSA App, with IMSA Radio’s race call available on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Tickets for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring event week, which has been dubbed the “Super Sebring” event weekend, are available now on SebringRaceway.com. Race week also includes a 1,000-mile FIA World Endurance Championship race and the two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge on Friday, March 15; and a one-hour and 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge race on Thursday, March 14.

 

St. James Recalls 1990 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Victory; “Hardest Track I’ve Ever Raced On”
 
March 11, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Not that we’d ever need an excuse to catch up with Lyn St. James, but the confluence of last Friday’s “International Women’s Day,” the fact that March is “Women’s History Month,” this Saturday is the 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, and the currently under way IMSA 50th Anniversary Celebration made this a perfect time to do so.

 
Of course, there’s also the fact that St. James was selected among the “50 Great IMSA Drivers” in the recently published “IMSA: Celebrating 50 Years” commemorative book – the only woman on the list. And also the fact that she co-drove to the GTO class victory in the 1990 Twelve Hours of Sebring alongside current NBC Sports IMSA commentator Calvin Fish and racer’s racer Robby Gordon in a Roush Racing-prepared Mercury Cougar XR-7.

 
“Because of the personalities of Robby and Calvin, it was certainly an entertaining race,” St. James recalled. “’Cause with Robby (especially), it’s always entertaining. It was part of that team effort. I can’t remember who all was on the other Roush team, but the fact we beat them, it’s always a good feeling when you not only win against your competition, but that competition includes your teammates from the team – not your co-drivers, but the team. You always like to be the ones that came out on top, which we did this time.”

 
St. James, Fish and Gordon led a 1-2 GTO class sweep in the No. 15 Mercury. Dorsey Schroeder and Max Jones finished second in the No. 11 Roush entry.

 
St. James admits that specific recollections of on-track happenings from a race that happened 29 years ago largely escape her. But her memories of racing at Sebring are vivid as ever.

 
“It’s the hardest track I’ve ever raced on,” she said. “Mentally and physically, it beats the (stuff) out of you. I know it’s better now, because I’ve been on it. I’ve gotten to go back and race in the vintage race there, and heck, they’ve smoothed it out, they put markers, it’s like, ‘This is a piece of cake compared to what it was back then.’

 
“It used to just beat the hell out of you. The bumps and the dirt, I mean, it’s not a good, happy description of driving a lap at Sebring and driving in the Twelve Hours. I mean, it’s brutal.”

 
Her earliest recollections of racing at Sebring go back to 1978, when she shared her then-husband, John Carusso’s Corvette with co-drivers Luis Sereix and Phil Currin.

 
“I just remember them telling me just before the hairpin – I forget the name of the turn back there – but to make sure that I hold my breath,” St. James said. “’Because if you don’t, you’re going to inhale things that you don’t want to inhale.’

 
“I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ They said, ‘Not really. Just make sure that you do not break down at the hairpin. And if you do, don’t leave the car. Don’t let anybody near the car, because they’ll tear the car apart.’”

 
That was a different era, obviously. St. James got into IMSA at the beginning of what many consider to be a golden era for the sanctioning body under the leadership of co-founder John Bishop that stretched through the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s.

 
“I know there were some fabulous drivers and teams and cars from the earlier years of IMSA, but I do think that prototype – and quite frankly, the dominance of Roush and Ford in the GTO category, but we had competition – era was the best,” she said. “There were some strong GTO programs as well from Chevrolet and others. I think that the cars were just exquisite. The drivers were the best of the best, and it wasn’t just one team.

 
“In the era we’re talking about, it was wide open. It was the best race car drivers and they were there for the season. If you ran for Gurney’s All American Racers, or if you ran for Nissan or you ran for Ford, I mean, you were in. You were there for the season and you were there in the best equipment with the best preparation and it was a war.

 
“It was a battle and it was a war out there and it brought on great, great racing with great technology and great cars. They were sexy and they were fast, and they were a bit wide open. There wasn’t all this Balance of Performance, but I know John did a lot of dicing to try to keep everybody competitive. Not happy, but competitive.”

 
St. James readily acknowledges that the level of competition in today’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will be on display for another 12-hour battle this Saturday, continues to be strong. Many consider this another “golden era” for IMSA.

 
“The quality of racing today is certainly as good as it’s ever been in IMSA and sports car racing,” she says.

 
And as one of the pioneers of Women in Racing – with six career IMSA victories, including becoming the first woman to win a race driving solo, which she did at Watkins Glen in 1985 – there’s one team in this weekend’s field she’ll be pulling for enthusiastically. It’s the all-female No. 57 Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank Acura NSX GT3 co-driven by Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen and Ana Beatriz.

 
St. James has much in common with all three drivers. She was the 1992 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, a race that both Legge and Beatriz both have raced in as well. Nielsen also is a Sebring winner, having scored the 2016 GT Daytona (GTD) class win, the same class in which the No. 57 competes this year.

 
St. James will be following the action via NBC Sports coverage, which starts on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET and continues on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN.

 
“Obviously, I am cheering them on as aggressively as I can without being there, but it’s a great team,” she said. “It’s a great team as far as the actual race team of support with Michael Shank and his support and then it’s a great lineup.

 
“I’ve never met (team principal) Jackie (Heinricher), but I have to congratulate her for putting the deal together and putting the sponsorship (from Caterpillar) together. I’m a huge fan of Katherine and Christina and Ana. They’re three of the best.

 
“They just have to do the job and then hope Mother Luck is on their shoulders, ‘cause it’s such a crazy race. They always say that, basically, in an endurance race, somebody else decides who’s going to win. You’ve just got to do everything proper, everything right and hope the gods are on your shoulders.”

Just like they were for St. James back in 1990.

 

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Stars In Real Racing 3 For First Time

 
Update to popular mobile racing game from Electronic Arts brings GT3 class cars to life for millions of gamers worldwide 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Mar. 8, 2019) – Gamers worldwide can now enjoy an exciting new addition to Real Racing 3 as Electronic Arts (EA) partners with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), North America’s premier sanctioning body for sports car competition.

 
For the first time, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship content is now featured in the highly-successful smartphone racing game. The high-performance GT3 class of cars that compete in the series’ GT Daytona (GTD) class is available in the latest update running now through April 2, 2019.

 
Players can take on four premier WeatherTech Championship limited-time series events and experience the GTD class first-hand. Week by week, players can drive the 2018 Acura NSX GT3, 2018 BMW M6 GT3, 2018 Ferrari 488 GT3 and 2018 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in a series of competitive races to test their skills.

 
Real Racing 3 features eight real world teams in the WeatherTech Championship update for players to dominate the field on familiar tracks such as Daytona International Speedway, the home of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and many others.

 
Follow Real Racing 3:
https://www.ea.com/games/real-racing/real-racing-3
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/realracing/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/realracing3/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/realracing (@RealRacing)
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/RealRacingEA
Gade Ready to Add to Her List of Racing Accomplishments
with Mazda Team Joest in IMSA
 
March 8, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – “The car doesn’t know the difference.”

 
It’s a phrase first coined by IMSA driver Katherine Legge in response to media questions about what it’s like to be a female race car driver.

 
It’s a phrase that pays for accomplished race engineer Leena Gade as well as she and the world celebrate International Women’s Day today.

 
“I don’t even think about it, and I don’t think anyone I work with thinks about it either,” says Gade, who is in her first season as race engineer for the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest DPi car in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “I say that because, in all the time I’ve done it, I don’t believe there’s ever been a single time where anyone has ever referred to that as being an issue, a good thing or a bad thing.

 
“There’s never been that there. I think what they said is absolutely correct. The car is inert to you, but pretty much, you are to the team as well. It works both ways.”

 
What matters is results on the racetrack, not gender, and Gade’s résumé is full of those. The UK native did become the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, which she achieved with Audi Sport Team Joest and drivers Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. A year later, she received – ironically – the ‘Man of the Year’ award from the FIA World Endurance Championship.

 
Gade’s association with Audi Sport Team Joest lasted from 2007 through 2016. Since then, she’d worked with Bentley Motorsport and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports IndyCar program. Over the winter, Gade rejoined many of her former colleagues with Mazda Team Joest.

 
“I’m the race engineer on the No. 77 car with – for the full season – Olly Jarvis and Tristan Nunez, but for the longer races, Timo Bernhard – and Rene Rast was with us at Daytona,” Gade explains. “Really, my responsibility is making sure the car is prepared before the event, we’ve got all the plans in place for things we want to try during the race week or during testing, and then allocating the time that’s relevant for the drivers so that they get the time on track.

 
“In the race, really, it’s kind of managing and coordinating the car and crew for the No. 77 so that we’ve got everything working together performance-wise, but also strategy and race-wise to make sure that we’re in a position to be competitive.”

 
The No. 77 was certainly competitive at Daytona, especially in qualifying, where Jarvis took the Motul Pole Award and broke a 26-year-old track record in the process. Gade was proud of the achievement, although she’s generally much more interested in race performance than qualifying.

 
“I think the impact of it was mainly on the team, rather than one single person,” she says. “I say that because there was a lot of hard work put in across the winter to get the team to a position to where they could be fighting for that place on the grid and fighting for a really convincing and strong qualifying position.

 
“Maybe this sounds a bit arrogant but qualifying hasn’t always been something that I’ve been that bothered about, especially in endurance racing. It’s primarily because, on a 24-hour race, if you start at the front, it doesn’t mean you’re going to finish there. There are instances where you can have not such a great qualifying session and be starting elsewhere.

 
“The most time that you spend during race week in the practice sessions is preparing the car for the race. It’s not actually for that one lap, but on the opposite side, just seeing the elation in the team from all the parties that are involved in this project was really quite nice to see. It was kind of satisfying to see that we’d actually managed to make it and do it – and do it really convincingly.”

 
It was the latest chapter for Gade, whose sister, Teena, also is an engineer. Both are racing enthusiasts from way back.

 
“It actually started when I was quite young, when I was probably around 13 or 14, and it’s the same for my sister,” Leena said. “We just watched the coverage for Formula 1 on the TV, and that’s how we got interested in it. I had spent time in the automotive industry and just felt I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be.

 
“Yes, there were some things that were quite challenging in terms of technical development, but the pace wasn’t there, the teamwork wasn’t there that you get on a race weekend, or when you’ve got three sessions to get a car sorted out before you go racing, and maybe that camaraderie of how a race team works, or how a car crew works, where everyone is just focused on the one thing, which is the best performance possible to get a win.

 
“When I first experienced it, that’s what I thought, ‘Well, I want to still be a part of that and keep doing that.’ Even when it’s going badly, there’s still a lot to be learned. It’s that, I guess, that keeps you interested.”

 
Gade is most gratified when she encounters young people – male or female – who are interested in following in her footsteps, although maybe not exactly the same path.

 
“A lot of kids that do come up and speak to me aren’t necessarily talking about coming into motorsport, but they’re maybe talking about going into engineering,” she explains. “That’s actually much more gratifying, because what we do is quite unique and it’s quite specialized. There’s not really that much – I don’t want to say ‘need’ for it – but there’s not so many teams that you can go into.

 
“But the broader spectrum of engineering, which needs a lot more people coming into it and a lot more kids getting interested into it so that we can fill up those positions – engineering’s got a shortfall. Depending on which country, it can be quite large, but worldwide, I think we don’t have enough. That’s more gratifying, to know that people are starting to think of engineering as an opportunity, whether they’re male or female.”

 
Gade acknowledges that she’s encountering more and more women working in the racing industry each year. That’s a positive message every day, but most especially on this International Women’s Day.

 
“I’ve certainly noticed over the last couple of years that there’s more women coming into the ranks in the motorsport field, and that’s a great thing,” she said. “Because for a long time, it’s always been known as a man’s sport. That’s not really true.

 
“I think there were women there before me, and they were certainly doing a lot to, kind of, pave the way or show that it was possible for women to come in and be in the sport, whether it’s in a technical position or as a mechanic, or as a driver, in team management, all the little aspects that make up the sport. There had been people who were doing it before I got there.

 
“I think, perhaps, as things have moved on over the last few years, and it’s become more apparent that there are people more accepting of the situation and more women coming in, it’s made it a little bit easier for others to kind of come through the door and then find a position where they feel comfortable and they can do a good job.”

 

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Gade Ready To Add To Her List Of Racing Accomplishments With Mazda Team Joest In IMSA

�The car doesn�t know the difference.� It�s a phrase first coined by IMSA driver Katherine Legge in response to media questions about what it�s like to be a female race car driver. It�s a phrase that pays for accomplished race engineer Leena Gade as well as she and the world celebrate International Women�s Day on Friday, March 8.

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Highlights From The 1970
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IMSA will write another chapter in the history books at Sebring International Raceway on March 16. Take a trip down memory lane to relive the 1970 Twelve Hours of Sebring in preparation for the race’s 67th running in 2019.

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Allan McNish To Be Grand Marshal At Super Sebring

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Nielsen Set For Remaining IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Events With Heinricher Racing

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Super Sebring Marshal Allan McNish Relives Audi Dominance At Sebring International Raceway

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67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented
by Advance Auto Parts – Entry List Notebook
 
March 6, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s considered one of the most grueling tests of sports car endurance racing anywhere in the world, and it’s North America’s oldest endurance race.

 
It’s the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, which starts just past 10:30 a.m. ET next Saturday, March 16, and it will feature an outstanding field of 38 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship machines ready for a once-around-the-clock battle on the legendary, 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit.

 
The field will include 11 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) entries, two LMP2 machines, eight GT Le Mans (GTLM) entries and 17 GT Daytona (GTD) race cars. A total of 13 different manufacturers are represented in at least one class, and every car in the field will be riding on Michelin tires.

 
Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. ET on CNBC, with continuing coverage on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout race week on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and the IMSA App, with IMSA Radio’s race call available on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

 
Tickets for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring event week, which has been dubbed the “Super Sebring” event weekend, are available now on SebringRaceway.com. Race week also includes a 1,000-mile FIA World Endurance Championship race and the two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge on Friday, March 15; and a one-hour and 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge race on Thursday, March 14.

 
Here’s a closer look at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring entry list released today:

 
  • Of 114 drivers on the provisional entry list, 39 drivers (34 percent of the field) have won at least once previously in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

 
  • The winningest active driver at Sebring is No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R pilot Oliver Gavin, who owns six class wins (GTS in 2001 and 2002, GT1 in 2006 and 2007, GT in 2013 and GTLM in 2016). He’s one Sebring win ahead of his teammate, Jan Magnussen, in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. Magnussen’s five wins came in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2015 and 2017.

 
  • Pipo Derani, who drives the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R is the winningest active driver in terms of overall Sebring victories with two. He won in 2016 and last year with the Patrón ESM team.

 
  • There are 17 drivers on the entry list with at least one pole position at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 driver Bill Auberlen has the most among active drivers with four: 1994 (GTU), 1997 (GTS-3), 1998 (GT3) and 2016 (GTLM).

 
  • The No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR is the only 2018 Sebring winning team to return with the same driver lineup it used last year. Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frederic Makowiecki – who also won the 2018 WeatherTech Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans – will be looking for back-to-back GTLM victories.

 
  • The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, which won the GTD class championship last year, returns two of the three drivers from its 2018 lineup in Bryan Sellers and Corey Lewis. Ryan Hardwick, the 2018 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Pro/Am world champion, completes the lineup in the No. 48 in place of Madison Snow, who went on to win the 2018 WeatherTech Championship GTD title alongside Sellers.

 
  • There are 17 teams on the entry list with at least one Sebring victory. Corvette Racing is far and away the winningest, with 11 victories at Sebring. It won its class seven times in eight years with three straight GTS wins in 2002, 2003 and 2004 followed by four consecutive GT1 wins from 2006 through 2009. It also won the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT class in 2013, before three consecutive WeatherTech Championship GTLM wins in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

 
  • Eleven of the 13 participating manufacturers have at least one previous Sebring victory. Porsche leads the way with 95 Sebring wins, followed by Chevrolet with 41 and Ferrari with 37.

 
Previous Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Winning Drivers in 2019 Field (39)
Oliver Gavin (6) – GTS – 2001, 2002; GT1 – 2006, 2007; GT – 2013; GTLM – 2016
Jan Magnussen (5) – GT1 – 2006, 2008, 2009; GTLM – 2015, 2017
Bill Auberlen (3) – GTS-2 – 1995; GTS-3 – 1997; GT3 – 1998
Dirk Mueller (3) – GT – 2000, 2011; ALMS GT – 2012
Antonio Garcia (3) – GT1 – 2009; GTLM – 2015, 2017
Timo Bernhard (2) – GT – 2004; P2/Overall – 2008
Patrick Long (2) – GT2 – 2005; GTLM – 2014
Sebastien Bourdais (2) – GTD – 2006; P/Overall – 2015
Joey Hand (2) – GT – 2011; ALMS GT – 2012
Joao Barbosa (2) – ALMS P2 – 2012; P/Overall – 2015
Marcel Fassler (2) – P1/Overall – 2013; GTLM – 2016
Ryan Briscoe (2) – P2 – 2013; GTLM – 2015
Tommy Milner (2) – GT – 2013; GTLM – 2016
Jeroen Bleekemolen (2) – GTC – 2013; GTD – 2017
Jon Bennett (2) – PC – 2014, 2016
Colin Braun (2) – PC – 2014, 2016
Mario Farnbacher (2) – GTD – 2015, 2017
Pipo Derani (2) – P/Overall – 2016, 2018
Romain Dumas (1) – P2/Overall – 2008
Dane Cameron (1) – PC – 2011
Ryan Dalziel (1) – WEC PC – 2012
Townsend Bell (1) – GTC – 2012
Oliver Jarvis (1) – P1/Overall - 2013
Richard Westbrook (1) – GT – 2013
Cooper MacNeil (1) – GTC – 2013
John Potter (1) – GTD – 2014
Andy Lally (1) – GTD – 2014
Alex Riberas (1) – GTD – 2015
Christina Nielsen (1) – GTD – 2016
Ricky Taylor (1) – P/Overall – 2017
Jordan Taylor (1) – P/Overall – 2017
Kyle Masson (1) – PC – 2017
Mike Rockenfeller (1) – GTLM – 2017 
Ben Keating (1) – GTD – 2017
Patrick Pilet (1) – GTLM – 2018
Nick Tandy (1) – GTLM – 2018
Frederic Makowiecki – GTLM – 2018
Bryan Sellers – GTD – 2018
Corey Lewis – GTD - 2018

 
Previous Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Pole Winners in 2019 Field (17)
Bill Auberlen (4) – GTU – 1994; GTS-3 – 1997; GT3 – 1998; GTLM – 2016
Oliver Gavin (3) – GTS – 2001, 2003; GT1 – 2009
Timo Bernhard (3) – GT – 2003, 2004; P2 – 2007
Olivier Pla (3) – WEC P2 – 2012; P/Overall – 2015, 2016
Jan Magnussen (2) – GT1 – 2007; ALMS GT – 2012
Dane Cameron (2) – PC – 2011; GTD – 2014
Ryan Briscoe (2) – P2 – 2013; GTLM – 2017
Colin Braun (2) – PC – 2013, 2016
Tristan Vautier (2) – GTD – 2017; P/Overall – 2018
Dirk Mueller (1) – GT – 2000
Scott Dixon (1) – P1/Overall – 2009
Marcel Fassler (1) – P1/Overall – 2013
Andy Lally (1) – GTC – 2013
Sebastien Bourdais (1) – P/Overall – 2014
Frederic Makowiecki (1) – GTLM – 2015
Jeroen Bleekemolen (1) – GTD – 2015
Connor De Phillippi (1) – GTLM – 2018

 
Previous Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Winning Teams in 2019 Field (17)
Corvette Racing (11) – GTS – 2002, 2003, 2004; GT1 – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009; GT – 2013; GTLM – 2015, 2016, 2017
Team Penske (4) – Proto 15 (P 5000+) – 1964; GT13 (GT – 5000+) – 1966; Trans-Am – 1968; P2/Overall – 2008
Team Joest (4) – LMP900/Overall – 2003; P1/Overall – 2009, 2013; WEC P1/Overall – 2012
CORE autosport (3) – ALMS PC – 2012; PC – 2014, 2016
BMW Team RLL (2) – GT – 2011; ALMS GT – 2012
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports (2) – PC – 2013, 2015
Porsche GT Team (2) – GTLM – 2014, 2018
Black Swan Racing (1) – GTC – 2011
Starworks Motorsport (1) – WEC P2 – 2012
Chip Ganassi Racing (1) – P/Overall – 2014
Magnus Racing (1) – GTD – 2014
Action Express Racing (1) – P/Overall – 2015
Scuderia Corsa (1) – GTD – 2016
Wayne Taylor Racing (1) – P/Overall – 2017
Performance Tech Motorsports (1) – PC – 2017
Riley Motorsports/Team AMG (2) – 2017
Paul Miller Racing (1) – GTD – 2018

 
Previous Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Winning Manufacturers in 2019 Field (11)
Porsche – 95
Chevrolet – 41
Ferrari – 37
Audi – 12
Nissan – 12
Ford – 9
BMW – 7
Acura – 3
Mercedes – 2
Cadillac – 1
Lamborghini – 1 
New Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Aims
To Revolutionize Racing Industry
With Sustainability Elements, Car To Add Benefits Far Beyond The Racetrack
 
March 7, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. On the surface, the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge seems like any other race car.

 
A deeper dive, however, proves otherwise. The new generation GT4 Clubsport is the first race car to use organic materials in its production, building certain parts of the car with natural fiber materials as opposed to previously used synthetics.

 
The concept – and implementation – could be just the start of changes for the racing industry when it comes to sustainability, and Porsche is happy to pave the way.

 
“Porsche is always trying to be a leader in being green and this was another direction we could go with our use of materials and cars,” said Kyle Millikin, the GT4 Clubsport Technical Support Specialist at Porsche Motorsport North America. “You’re starting to see it on the OEM side as well, but it’s definitely a first in motorsports.”

 
Unveiled the first week of January at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the new GT4 Clubsport features doors made of natural plant fibers – from flax or hemp plants, for example – as well as the fixed rear wing.

 
Millikin described how the benefits of using agricultural byproducts in the car extends far beyond the racetrack.  

 
“It’s an exercise in sustainable use of raw materials where we were using synthetic composites before with certain materials,” said Millikin. “Now we’re using renewable plant-based composites. The production of these composites is a lot greener, has lower carbon emissions and it still has the same characteristics as the carbon fiber we’ve been using in the past. But on the greener side, it’s a shorter degradation lifetime with these natural fibers.”

 
How Porsche acquires these fibers also is changing.

 
Up until December 2018, commercial hemp production was illegal in the United States, so the materials primarily came from Europe. With the signing of a farm bill in late December legalizing hemp production, Porsche customer teams can now potentially look closer to home for repairs of these new GT4 Clubsport race components.

 
“I think you’ll start to see this more and more from other manufacturers,” Millikin said. “They’re already using it on the road car side in certain areas, but I think it’s going to expand more into other parts of the cars versus just body panels right now.”

 
Eight of the new cars were delivered to Pilot Challenge teams at the Roar, with a pair finishing in the top 10 at the series’ four-hour opener on Jan. 25 at Daytona International Speedway. Millikin explained how the teams’ reaction to the new car has been largely positive, frankly because there wasn’t much of a change.

 
“I think it’s been well received for the cost of production being lower, that’ll pass on to the customers,” said Millikin. “It has the same characteristics that you’re used to with carbon fiber and it can be repaired the same way as carbon fiber. It’s not a big transition for the teams to get used to it, but I think it’s been pretty well accepted.”

 
The GT4 Clubsport will tackle one of the toughest challenges of the year at the infamously bumpy Sebring International Raceway next weekend. The two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 goes green on Friday, March 15 at noon ET and can be streamed live on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary.

 
A tape-delayed broadcast of the race will air the following week on Thursday, March 28 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.  

 

 

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Sees IMSA Prototype Challenge
As Opportunity To Develop Young Talent
 
March 5, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports is doubling down on IMSA and investing in bringing young talent to sports car racing.

 
The California-based operation prides itself on identifying and guiding up-and-coming drivers through its ranks and has had no shortage of success in doing so. Notable alumni includes Mazda factory driver Jonathan Bomarito, and IndyCar drivers Charlie Kimball and J.R. Hildebrand, just to name a few.

 
With that identity still at the core of the team’s values, team owner Bobby Oergel has chosen the IMSA Prototype Challenge as the next-generation platform to cultivate that talent.

 
News of a transition to the LMP3 ranks was released earlier this month, as part of a team announcement headlined by an expansion to a two-car LMP2 effort for 2020 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team is already campaigning the No. 52 ORECA LMP2 full-time in the WeatherTech Championship in 2019 with co-drivers Matt McMurry and Gabriel Aubry.

 
The timeline of a full-time IMSA Prototype Challenge effort in 2019, followed by an additional WeatherTech Championship entry in 2020 is no coincidence.

 
“This program for many years dating back to 1999 has had a feeder program within it,” said Oergel. “It’s usually been junior open-wheel formula cars. An LMP3 program is one of those things that’s been on the horizon for the last few years. What you’re seeing now is the first crop of a junior program, if you want to call it that, internally bringing drivers into our LMP3 program with hopes of putting them into the LMP2 program eventually as well.”

 
The team will make its series debut at Sebring International Raceway on March 14 with its Formula Pro USA F4 Western Champion Scott Huffaker staying with the team on the jump from open-wheel to LMP3. Fellow open-wheel prospect Calder McWhinney also recently tested the team’s No. 52 Ligier JS P3.

 
Huffaker and McWhinney are just two of the latest young open-wheel drivers to embrace IMSA and the LMP3 platform, joining recent Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring winner and 2018 F3 Americas champion Kyle Kirkwood, and season-opening Daytona winner Neil Alberico.

 
When surveying the current motorsports landscape, Oergel landed on IMSA Prototype Challenge and its burgeoning LMP3 platform as the ideal series to develop talent while also having a clear ladder to his WeatherTech Championship program, if sports car racing is the route his young drivers want to take.

 
“The scenario that makes LMP3 make sense in the current environment is the cost per mile and budgetary needs are very attractive,” said Oergel. “There is lots of valuable track time, a heavy and high horsepower car and a path into the future if sports cars are your forte and want and will.

 
“Regardless if it is or isn’t, it’s still a very good platform to springboard to the next step, even if it’s back onto the open-wheel side of the fence. It's part of the ladder system and training programs to prepare these drivers and/or their sponsors and partners for the future.”

 
You can see the debut of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ “junior program” in action at Sebring International Raceway with the IMSA Prototype Challenge race on Thursday, March 14 at 12:35 p.m. ET (live, IMSA.com). The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts will be broadcast on Saturday, March 16 starting on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET with more coverage throughout the day on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. The entire race can be streamed live on the NBC Sports App.

 
Live IMSA Radio coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring also will be carried on IMSA Radio which is available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (XM Channel 202/Sirius Channel 216/Internet Channel 972).

 
Tickets for the doubleheader Super Sebring weekend featuring the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship are still on sale for the weekend of March 13-16.
Ticket packages are available on www.sebringraceway.com.
 

Super Sebring Grand Marshal McNish Relives Audi Dominance

At Sebring International Raceway
 

 

Mar. 4, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - When you’re on the grid for the pre-race fan walk on the morning of March 16, shortly before the command to start engines for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, take a look at the long structure behind and towering above the pits.

 
You’ll notice signs with national flags, names and years corresponding to the overall-winning manufacturer of each race going back to the first Twelve Hours back in 1952. And when you’re on the pit-in end of the tower, you’ll see a whole bunch of German flags and the name, “Audi.”

 
We’ll save you the trouble of counting them yourself. Between 2000 and 2013, there are 11. And there are eight in a row from 2000 through 2007.

 
What the signs don’t tell you, however, is that those 11 wins came from five different types of Audi prototypes: the R8, R10 TDI, R15 TDI, R18 TDI and R18 e-tron quattro; or the fact that these engines ran the gamut from gasoline to diesel to hybrid. They also don’t tell you that 16 different drivers won for Audi at Sebring between 2000 and 2013.

 
Allan McNish, the recently announced Super Sebring grand marshal, was part of Audi’s Sebring driver lineup for its entire, 14-year run. He won four times, in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012. But it’s one he didn’t win that he reckons was the most significant for Audi, and that was the maiden victory in 2000 by Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro in a 1-2 sweep for Audi R8s ahead of McNish, Rinaldo “Dindo” Capello and Michele Alboreto.

 
“It was Audi’s first victory in sports car racing,” said McNish in his unmistakable Scottish brogue. “So, you think about all of Audi’s successes in sports car racing, but you always remember your first. It has got a very, very special place in Audi’s heart, but also in its history books, because it was the first one.

 
“I was there. I finished second with Michele Alboreto and Dindo Capello, and it was Frankie, Tom and Emanuele that won. That was a special night, I’ve got to be honest with you. It was like a little mark in the book. And for every single one afterwards, it was trying to uphold the honor that the circuit has, and that we were able to join on.”

 
In addition to kicking off the unbelievable run of success in the Twelve Hours of Sebring, that 2000 victory launched an amazing period of sports car racing for Audi worldwide. In June that same year, Biela, Kristensen and Pirro won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, beginning a run of 13 victories from 2000 through 2014.

 
Audi would win nine American Le Mans Series (ALMS) championships from 2000 through 2008 and took FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) titles in 2012 and 2013. The manufacturer leveraged the on-track success in global marketing and advertising programs, making Audi prototypes among the most recognizable race cars anywhere in the world.

 
But which one was the best?

 
“I would say my favorite is the R10 (which won Sebring in 2006 and 2007),” McNish said. “However, my favorite Audi at Sebring, without a question or shadow of a doubt, was the R15. That car was just stunning that year, in 2009.”

 
It was McNish’s third Sebring victory, coming alongside Capello and Kristensen in a head-to-head battle with the Peugeot shared by Sebastien Bourdais, Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny. The field also included two different versions of Acura prototypes, including the ARX-02a from de Ferran Motorsports that Scott Dixon qualified on the pole position.

 
“That was probably the toughest race,” McNish recalls. “That was a race where, I think, Tom, Dindo and I were absolutely on our peak and the R15 was stunning. It was simply stunning. It was the first time I ever overtook an LMP car around the outside into Turn 1 and right through the corner.

 
“It was one where I was building up from the start-finish line and working out where I was going to catch, and realized it was going to be just after the braking point. The car gave me so much confidence that I thought, ‘Right, ‘round the outside we go,’ and pulled it off.

 
“That was a bit of commitment, I’ve got to be honest with you, but the sort of commitment we needed to do, because we were not quite as quick as the Peugeot over singular laps, but we could achieve it over the course of the race distance and the stints. That was a very, very special one to continue our war with Peugeot.”

 
McNish, who became Audi’s coordinator of all motorsport activities for the Audi Group in 2015, looks back on the entire period with fondness.

 
“You see all the names above the pits,” McNish said. “When Audi came back in 2001 – because we had the 1-2 in 2000 – the first time we came back and the Audi name was above the pits, it was like, ‘Bloody hell, our name is on the board with everybody else. Look at the other people and then our name’s up there.’

 
“It went forward, and it got to the point where – we won there the first time out with the R8 in 2000, we won the first time out with the R10 in 2006, which was the first run with the diesel, and then in 2009 with the R15. Then, it became a bit of a thing like, ‘Crikey, you’ve got to try and win every time that you’ve got a new car coming there.’”

 
McNish scored his final Sebring victory in 2012 – when the WEC ran concurrently with the ALMS in a field that included 64 cars and nine different classes – in an R18 TDI with co-drivers Kristensen and Capello. Audi’s last overall Sebring win came a year later with Oliver Jarvis, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer in the R18 e-tron quattro.

 
“To have made a little bit of a mark of history at Sebring, at a race that’s been around for a very, very long time – it’s been around longer than me and it will be around longer than me, that’s for sure,” McNish said. “I think that, if you can be a part of that, it’s really, really special. Certainly, from Audi as a brand, it is.”

 
Tickets for the doubleheader Super Sebring weekend featuring the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship are still on sale for the weekend of March 14-17.
Ticket packages are available on www.sebringraceway.com.

 
For fans unable to attend, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be broadcast on Saturday, March 16 starting on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET with more coverage throughout the day on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. The entire race can be streamed live on the NBC Sports App. 

 
The 12-hour race follows the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race, the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, on Friday at noon ET and the IMSA Prototype Challenge race on Thursday at 12:35 p.m. ET, all of which can be streamed live on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary.

Live IMSA Radio coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring also will be carried on SiriusXM Radio (XM Channel 202/Sirius Channel 216/Internet Channel 972).
Allan McNish to be Grand Marshal at Super Sebring

 
Legendary Racer Returns to Site of his Four Twelve Hour Victories
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 4, 2019) – The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship announced today that endurance racing legend Allan McNish has been named as Grand Marshal for both the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and 1000 Miles of Sebring.

 
The two races, the second race weekend of the 2019 WeatherTech Championship and round six of the WEC Super Season, headline the Super Sebring event scheduled to take place at historic Sebring International Raceway in Florida track between March 13-16.

 
“It’s a great honor to be named Grand Marshal for both events and I look forward very much to the entire weekend,” McNish said. “Sebring is a great old school track with fantastic fans and always amazing races. I was lucky enough to have won the 12-hour race four times and have so many memories of great battles through the years. When you win there, you know you’ve achieved a significant victory and beaten every challenge, both technical and physical.” 

 
Both of the sanctioning bodies believe McNish is the perfect choice to give the command of the most famous words in motorsports.

 
“As part of our IMSA 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2019, the selection of Allan McNish as the Grand Marshal at Sebring represents a perfect fit,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said. “Allan’s name and accomplishments with Audi are etched in Sebring lore for his outstanding performance at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours, just as it is at Le Mans and many other historic sports car racing venues around the world. As IMSA co-headlines the Super Sebring event with the WEC, Allan is the embodiment of excellence in both championships. And he’s a fan favorite and a genuinely nice guy – the perfect Grand Marshal for this epic combined weekend.”

 
“There are few drivers who can match Allan’s excellent career as an endurance competitor, not to mention his additional, considerable skills as a commentator and journalist and now his success as a team boss,” Gérard Neveu, CEO of the WEC said. “His successes at Sebring makes his return here all the more meaningful to the fans and competitors alike, and we are delighted that he has agreed to serve as Grand Marshal for this great weekend ahead. We can’t think of anyone better for the role.”

 
The 2013 World Champion, synonymous with Audi’s LMP1 dominance in endurance racing, is a four-time winner of the Twelve Hours of Sebring (2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012) and knows better than most what is required of drivers at this most challenging of sportscar classics. His last victory at Sebring was on the occasion of the WEC’s first-ever race on March 18, 2012.

 
McNish’s illustrious and storied career also includes three American Le Mans Series championship titles (2000, 2006 and 2007), the ALMS being a predecessor to the current WeatherTech Championship, and three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1998, 2008 and 2013). On many of these occasions, the Scot was accompanied on the path to success by Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo “Dindo” Capello.

 
Tickets for the doubleheader Super Sebring weekend featuring the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship are still on sale for the weekend of March 13-16 and are available at www.sebringraceway.com.

 
For fans unable to attend, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be broadcast on Saturday, March 16 starting on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET with more coverage throughout the day on the NBC Sports App and NBCSN. The entire race can be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App. 

 
Live IMSA Radio coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring also will be carried on IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (XM Channel 202/Sirius Channel 216/Internet Channel 972).

 

 

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 WORLD CHALLENGE

 

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Sports Car Club of America

 

SCHEDULES   SCHEDULES   SCHEDULES   SCHEDULES   SCHEDULES   SCHEDULES   SCHEDULES

2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule:

Date

Venue

Classes/

Jan. 4-6  

Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

3-day test

Jan. 24-27 Rolex 24 At Daytona
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

24 hours

March 13-16 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Sebring International Raceway
Sebring, Florida
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

12 hours

April 12-13 BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix 
Long Beach, Calif.
DPi/LMP2/GTLM 

 

100 minutes

May 3-5 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Lexington, Ohio
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

2 hours, 40 minutes

May 31-June 1 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Island Grand Prix
Detroit, Michigan*
DPi/LMP2 (GTD Sprint Cup)

 

100 minutes

June 28-30 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen
Watkins Glen, New York
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

6 hours

July 5-7 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

2 hours, 40 minutes

July 19-20 Northeast Grand Prix
Lakeville, Connecticut
GTLM/GTD

 

2 hours, 40 minutes

Aug. 2-4 Road America
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

2 hours, 40 minutes

Aug. 23-25 VIRginia International Raceway
Danville, Virginia
GTLM/GTD

 

2 hours, 40 minutes

Sept. 13-15 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
Monterey, California
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

2 hours, 40 minutes

Oct. 10-12 Petit Le Mans
Brazelton, Georgia
DPi/LMP2/GTLM/GTD

 

10 hours

 

Pirelli GT World Challenge America

Circuit of The Americas March TBA
VIRginia International Raceway April 27-28
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 18-19
Sonoma Raceway

June 8-9

Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 5-6

 

GTS Pirelli World Challenge

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 9-10
VIRginia International Raceway April 27-28
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 18-19
Sonoma Raceway

June 8-9

Portland International Raceway July 13-14
Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 5-6

 

GT4 America East

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 9-10
VIRginia International Raceway April 27-28
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 18-19
Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22

 

GT4 America West

Palm Springs April 6-7
California TBD May
Sonoma Raceway

June 8-9

Portland International Raceway July 13-14
Grand Finale Oct. 5-6

 

Touring Car

Circuit of The Americas March 1-3
VIRginia International Raceway April 27-28
Portland International Raceway July 13-14
Sonoma Raceway

June 8-9

Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 5-6
 

2019 Hoosier Super Tour Schedule

- January 11-13: Sebring International Raceway; Sebring, Florida

(Southeast Conf., Central Florida Region)

 

- February 8-10: Circuit of the Americas; Austin, Texas

(Southern Conf., Lone Star Region/Southwest Division)

 

- March 15-17: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta; Braselton, Georgia

(Southeast Conf., Southeast Division)

 

- March 30-31: Hallett Motor Racing Circuit; Jennings, Oklahoma

(Mid-States Conf./Southern Conf.; Ark Valley Race Group)</