The 62nd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is underway. Some race updates follow:
In brief, anyone could win in three of the four classes by this point. Nine Prototypes, six GTLM and four GTD cars are all on the lead lap. The battle in P is between DP and P2-spec cars, which was unlikely to occur at Daytona.
Extreme Speed Motorsports’ HPD ARX-03bs were the star fighters to the DPs as the race settled into a rhythm over the last two hours. Unfortunately for the leading No. 2 car, driven by Johannes van Overbeek, contact with the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS at Turn 17 has eliminated that. “JVO” pitted for repairs after the two collided; the Miller car wasn’t sure the HPD was there.
That contact promoted the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to the lead, with other class leaders CORE autosport (PC), Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R (GTLM) and AIM Autosport’s No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD).
A number of GTD class cars had issues, either punctures, fuel pressure or paddle-shift related.
We’re halfway home, but holy yellow flags, Batman. There were eight of them in the first six hours, four of which were caused by the No. 87 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 PC class car as one of several PC-related incidents.
That said, there were some proper racing highlights as this headed to the crossed flags mark. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Dalziel had a great scrap in the lead in the diverse combination of the Action Express Corvette DP and Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b. Then Justin Wilson and Sage Karam went toe-to-toe in the pair of Ford EcoBoost Rileys, Wilson for Michael Shank Racing and Karam for Chip Ganassi Racing.
PC has more or less been a battle of survival with the CORE autosport and RSR Racing having mostly clean races to this point. Unfortunately even that went awry before the 6-hour mark, when Alex Tagliani’s No. 08 car was tagged by Gaston Kearby in the aforementioned No. 87 car exiting Turn 16 in a violent accident.
In GTLM, Porsche, BMW and SRT Viper have thus far had trouble-free races. Same for most of the Ferraris, the Turner BMW and handful of Porsches in GTD.
But otherwise, this first half of this race has been weird.
As if the Riley GTD Viper and Risi GTLM Ferrari incidents weren’t bad enough, things got worse when two PC class cars collided just past the four-hour mark.
The No. 38 Performance Tech entry driven by David Ostella wrecked on exit to Turn 17 and careened into the path of No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen entry of Frankie Montecalvo. Montecalvo spun into the pit in area and the race was briefly red flagged.
At the four-hour mark, where points were awarded for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, the Nos. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing (P), 52 PR1/Mathiasen (PC), 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (GTLM) and 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 (GTD) were class leaders.
Just at the end of the third hour, following a third full-course caution for two BAR1 Motorsports PC class cars colliding, things got worse in terms of contact.
Matteo Malucelli, in the rebuilt Risi Ferrari, spun off at Turn 1. Upon rejoining, he entered right on the racing line of corner exit and contacted Christina Nielsen’s No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America. It put the race under a fourth full-course caution. Several others took evasive action to avoid.
IndyCar champion Scott Dixon led overall at the three-hour mark in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley.
The race settled into a rhythm after the first yellow flag. Klaus Graf took the overall lead through the most recent pit stop cycle in the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ORECA 03 Nissan.
Risi Competizione’s No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia and the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR battled for the GTLM class lead. RSR Racing (No. 09, PC) and Scuderia Corsa (No. 63, GTD) were other class leaders at the two-hour mark.
The majority of the first hour was run under a caution flag as Ben Keating had to stop his No. 33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R on track, just at Turn 6. A blaze ignited underneath the car and made a massive fire; Keating got out under his own power but with the car, torched, was taken back to the paddock on a flatbed.
As the pit stop cycle commenced, the DeltaWing racing team took the opportunity to stay out and lead under yellow. Andy Meyrick was behind the wheel of the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13 cope.