Nine Prototypes Shatter Sebring Record
Close Competition In All Four TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Classes
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 17, 2014) – The first Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup at Sebring International Raceway resulted in a record-breaking performance.
Nine cars from the top Prototype (P) class finished on the lead lap and were in contention for the victory in Saturday’s race, shattering the record of three lead-lap finishers recorded in 1990, 2008 and ‘11. The finishing mix included six Daytona Prototypes (DPs), which previously raced in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, fighting it out with three LM P2 cars designed under rules written by the Automobile Club l’Ouest (ACO), which organizes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Six of the 10 DPs led the race, while four of the six former P2 cars ran up front. In addition, the DeltaWing DWC13 – which raced last year in the P1 class of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón – led 14 laps.
A huge crowd turned out to see how the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) would balance three markedly different race car concepts to perform on the challenging 3.74-mile circuit. They weren’t disappointed. Marino Franchitti, driving the No. 01 Telcel Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley held off Ryan Dalziel in the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda from Extreme Speed Motorsports by 4.682 seconds.
“I think it’s pretty close right now,” said Scott Sharp, who co-drove the No. 1 machine at Sebring with Dalziel and David Brabham. “I’m sure there will be certain tracks that help one side over the other, so we will have to see as we go. We certainly expected to run better there because it’s our home track and we’ve done a lot of miles there. We had it pretty well set up. They’ve gotten the [balance of performance] much closer, at least in overall lap times.”
Finishing third was the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, ahead of two more P2 cars; the No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan/Nissan and the No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda from ESM.
“I think the two types of cars are definitely very even,” said Ricky Taylor, who co-drove the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP to a seventh-place result. “At different parts of the race, different cars had advantages. It was interesting when you were out on track seeing which cars were doing what in the different corners – and that would change throughout the race. Sebring turned out to be pretty even, and hopefully it will be that way for the rest of the year.”
Competition was very close in the other TUDOR Championship classes as well. The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class had four cars representing four different manufacturers on the lead lap at the finish, led by the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
Second was the No. 93 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R, followed by the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE and the No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GT. The GTLM top five also included two different tire manufacturers, with the top-four Michelin-shod finishers joined by the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 – making its TUDOR Championship debut – in fifth.
The GT Daytona (GTD) class featured six lead-lap finishers, led by the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America. Second was the Rolex 24 At Daytona class-winning No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia fielded by AIM Autosport, ahead of the No. 23 and No. 22 Porsche GT Americas prepared by Alex Job Racing. Audi was represented on the GTD lead lap by the No. 35 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS in fifth and the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports R8 LMS in sixth.
The race in Prototype Challenge (PC) also went down to the end between two of the class’ top drivers in Colin Braun and Bruno Junqueira – who qualified on the class pole position. In the end, Braun took the victory aboard the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09, by just 2.428 seconds over Junqueira in the No. 09 RSR Racing ORECA FLM09.