Sebring Post-Race Notebook

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***JDC-Miller Motorsports scored its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory since the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in 2018 and the first with the Cadillac DPi-V.R since switching to the DPi ranks in 2019. 

***The Minnesota-based squad was one of the few teams not to test at Sebring International Raceway prior to last weekend’s race, due to budget constraints. 

***While it marked Tristan Vautier’s first WeatherTech Championship win outright, Sebastien Bourdais returned to victory lane at Sebring for the first time since 2015 while Loic Duval also earned his second overall win in the race, with the Frenchman’s first coming ten years ago in ORECA’s Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP, also in an all-French lineup.

***Despite eight full-course cautions, Saturday’s race saw a new DPi distance record of 349 laps/1,305.26 miles, which beat the previous mark by one lap.

***Meyer Shank Racing scored its first podium with the Acura ARX-05, courtesy of a late-race pass by Dane Cameron on the sister Acura DPi of Alexander Rossi. It came after the Ohio-based team overcame handling-related issues with the ORECA-built prototype early on that resulted in a long pit stop while under full course caution for a push-rod adjustment.

***The Rolex 24-winning No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry, meanwhile, had a loss of power in the final stages due to Filipe Albuquerque and the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 of Jack Hawksworth making contact in the ninth hour, resulting in damage to the right side intercooler on the Acura DPi.

***Albuquerque and Taylor have retained the DPi points lead and sit eight points ahead of Mazda’s Harry Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis (688 to 680). Sebring winners Vautier and Duval are third on 645 points in the new-for-2021 points structure.

***Action Express Racing admitted its drive time miscue with Simon Pagenaud exceeding the maximum four hours in a six-hour period was a “team error.” While finishing third on the road, the No. 48 Ally-sponsored Cadillac DPi-V.R was moved to the rear of the DPi finishers due to the infraction.

“We cut it a little too close with our drive times today,” said team director Gary Nelson. “We were less than 60 seconds over the drive time for Simon. It is disappointing. It’s a team error. Jimmie, Kamui, and Simon drove their hearts out today. Win as a team, lose as a team. We will look forward to Watkins Glen.”

***Longtime NASCAR crew chief and Hendrick Motorsports director of competition Chad Knaus was calling strategy on the car.

***Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick was also on the pit box for the race. It marked Hendrick’s first WeatherTech Championship race appearance after initially being scheduled to attend the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, which came out on top in LMP2 for the second consecutive time at Sebring, overcame an upright failure detected by Mikkel Jensen in warmup that sent the car behind the wall. It started from the pit lane and was forced to serve a drive-through penalty early due to not making the grid in time.

***The LMP2 class pole-sitting No. 11 WIN Autosport Oreca 07 Gibson, which starred early in the hands of Bronze-rated Steven Thomas, ultimately retired after the car wouldn’t shift out of 2nd gear and was locked on the pit speed limiter. The electrical issues also sent the team behind the wall.

***Timothe Buret’s massive accident, in which he rolled the Tower Motorsport Oreca 07 Gisbon after heavy contact with the in the 10th hour, resulted in tub damage according to Starworks team owner Peter Baron. Baron told Sportscar365 they are already working with ORECA to source a replacement chassis in time for the next LMP2 race of the season, which is scheduled for Detroit in June.

***Despite their fourth place finish after late-race contact with the No. 25 Team RLL BMW, Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor remain out front in the GTLM drivers’ standings, 41 points ahead of Cooper MacNeil. The next GTLM points-paying round is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in June.

***MacNeil and co-drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell’s class win was the fourth consecutive for Porsche in the GTLM class and came with the same chassis (ex-CORE run No. 911) that won at Sebring in November in the final factory GTLM race for Porsche.

***Proton Competition team principal Christian Reid owns the No. 911 chassis, with WeatherTech founder and CEO David MacNeil owning the No. 912 car that was used in the series last year.

***Laurens Vanthoor claimed his long-awaited first win at Sebring, in 1-2 class result for Porsche in GTD. “Last year a fan asked me to write on a flag what I thought about Sebring and I said, ‘Sebring Sucks’ because I always had bad races here or things didn’t go the way I wanted. Finally it did this year,” he said.

***The class wins by the WeatherTech crew in GTLM and Pfaff Motorsports’ entry brings Porsche’s tally of class wins at Sebring to 76 in the 69-year history of the endurance classic. Steffen Hollwarth, Head of GTLM Operations said: “It was the fourth class win in a row for our Porsche 911 RSR. And it was very special because this was the last time the GTLM class will race at Sebring.”

***An all-Porsche podium in GTD was denied when the No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM entry of Katherine Legge was forced to serve a drive-through penalty in the closing stages due to incident responsibility relegating the all-female lineup entry to fifth in class.

***It was nonetheless a banner weekend for Porsche, which also picked up the pole and second place finish in Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge race and saw the successful debut of Porsche Carrera Cup North America. 

***Paul Miller Racing determined that contact with the No. 99 Hardpoint EBM Porsche of Earl Bamber ultimately led to gearbox problems for its No. 1 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with less than two-and-a-half hours to go after contending for the GTD class win.

“We’ve never had a gearbox failure in the six years we’ve been with Lamborghini,” said team owner Paul Miller. “This was a brand new gearbox; there really isn’t any reason this would have happened without the contact we suffered early in the race.”

***Longtime Sebring track historian and media director Ken Breslauer was honored pre-race in receiving a Rolex watch from IMSA President John Doonan and track president Wayne Estes for his more than 30 years of service. Saturday’s race marked Breslauer’s final prior to his retirement.

***The Sebring media center has also been renamed to the Ken Breslauer Media Center.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon and new FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Frederic Lequien were in attendance on Saturday despite the cancelation of this year’s WEC race at Sebring due to COVID-19. “We certainly hope the World Endurance Championship can join us here real soon,” said Doonan.

***A total of 153 cars raced with Michelin or BF Goodrich tires over the two consecutive race weekends at Sebring, including the IMSA Prototype Challenge round held the week before the 12-hour. (37 WeatherTech, 35 Pilot Challenge, 34 Carrera Cup, 20 Prototype Challenge, 27 MX-5).

***Sportscar365 understands that the Detroit round, which is set to be rescheduled to June 11-12 as part of the NTT IndyCar Series weekend, will add the GTLM class as a non-points round. Corvette Racing is expected to be in attendance but not WeatherTech Racing due to the clash with the WEC at Portimao that same weekend for the Proton-run team.

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