By Mark Robinson
SEBRING, Fla. - The 68th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts – the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale – has moved into the dramatic closing stage at Sebring International Raceway. At the eight-hour mark, Tristan Vautier was the overall and Daytona Prototype international (DPi) leader in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R shared with fellow Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Loic Duval
NBCSN has live television coverage through the historic race’s conclusion at approximately 10:10 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio coverage continues through the checkered flag on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius channel 217, XM 202 and Internet 972).
Other class leaders at the eight-hour mark were: Simon Trummer (No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07) in Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Antonio Garcia (No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R) in GT Le Mans (GTLM) and Bryan Sellers (No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3) in GT Daytona (GTD).
For the second time in the race, a major DPi player suffered a setback. This time it was the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R when six-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was driving with a tick more than seven hours remaining. Oliver Jarvis, in the No. 77 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi, made contact with Dixon in Turn 10. The No. 10 sustained rear-end damage and a flat right-rear tire, forcing Dixon to limp it around the track to pit lane and then to the paddock for repairs.
"I think there was no way he was going to make the corner," Dixon said of Jarvis. "I kind of saw him coming and tried to give him enough without wrecking myself. I got off track a little bit in the hairpin and got dirty tires. … I haven’t seen the replay yet, but I don’t think it was our fault."
The No. 10 and its full-season drivers, Ryan Briscoe and Renger van der Zande, trail the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura and drivers Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves by two points in the driver and team standings. The No. 7 had its own problem in the opening hour of the race, spending nearly a half-hour behind the wall to fix a left-side intercooler.
At the eight-hour mark, the No. 10 was five laps off the pace and the No. 7 seven laps back.
Earlier in the race, Michelin completed its one millionth mile among all IMSA WeatherTech Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge practice, qualifying and race sessions since becoming the Official Tire of IMSA in 2019.
- The No. 10 Cadillac’s effort to recover from the contact with the No. 77 Mazda was hindered when it was assessed a drive-through penalty for passing another car under a full-course caution with six hours remaining.
- The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac and driver Pipo Derani retain flickering hopes of upending the Nos. 7 and 10 for the DPi championships. With four hours remaining, the No. 31 ran in fourth place, but it must win and have the other contenders finish near the bottom of the class.
"This is crazy," Derani said. "It’s up and down all the time. We were in the lead and we lost it on the pit stop, and now we’re P4. We’re just trying to do our jobs. … We’re not thinking about the championship at all. We’re trying to get back in the lead. That’s the most important thing right now. If we can do that and win the race, then I think we can contend for the championship."
- The No. 51 Inter Europol Competition ORECA was running a solid second in LMP2 until Jakub Smiechowski slid backward into the Turn 17 tire barrier with eight hours, 13 minutes remaining. It returned after lengthy repairs but was 19 laps behind the class leader with four hours left to race.
- Chevrolet claimed the GTLM manufacturer championship when the two Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R entries started the race. It gives Chevrolet 13 manufacturer titles in IMSA GT competition since 2001. The No. 3 Corvette and drivers Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor had previously clinched the GTLM team and driver crowns.
"The first season for the Corvette C8.R has shattered all of our expectations," said Mark Reuss, General Motors president. "The success of the Corvette Racing team wouldn’t be possible without the close link between the crew and the Corvette engineering team. It has been great to watch these two teams work closely together to learn from each other. I can’t wait to see what next season brings."
- While running second in GTLM with six hours to go, No. 3 Corvette endurance driver Nicky Catsburg collided with Patrick Kelly in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA as they entered Turn 17. Both cars were able to continue into the pits, where repairs were quickly made and they both continued in the race.
- The No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 survived a scare in its bid to hold onto the GTD driver, team and manufacturer crowns. No. 86 driver Mario Farnbacher was tapped from behind by Nick Yelloly in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, sending Farnbacher into a 360-degree spin. Farnbacher lost several positions but continued. The No. 86 needs to finish fifth or better to clinch the GTD driver and team championships.
- Through eight hours, five of the six GTLM cars were still on the class lead lap, while 10 of the 13 were the same in GTD.
- As darkness fell around 6 p.m. ET at Sebring, the BMW Team RLL duo heated up. Jesse Krohn moved the No. 24 BMW into the GTLM class lead before turning the car over to Augusto Farfus, and Connor De Phillippi took no prisoners in powering the No. 25 BMW into second place following a spirited and physical battle with the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 driven by Nick Tandy.
IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Points Update
The eight-hour mark represented the second scoring opportunity at Sebring for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, which offers points at different segments in each of the WeatherTech Championship endurance races.
All of the Prototype titles were wrapped up by the four-hour mark in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and all GT titles were clinched at eight hours. The No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE team and drivers John Edwards and Jesse Krohn secured the GTLM team and driver titles by running second at the eight-hour mark. In addition, BMW wrapped up the manufacturer crown with an insurmountable, four-point lead over Porsche.
The GTD team and driver titles also were clinched at two-thirds distance by the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 squad and its trio of co-drivers, Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers and Corey Lewis which claimed the class lead just as the clock switched into Hour 9.