Photo courtesy of IMSA

Taylors, Cadillac complete ’36 hours of Florida’ sweep at Sebring

1 Comment

SEBRING, Fla. – The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R engaged in a neck-and-neck battle with another Cadillac in Saturday’s 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac, and for the second time in as many Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races to kick off the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, the Wayne Taylor Racing team emerged on top.

They won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in dramatic and emotional fashion, but today’s triumph at Sebring was a bit more straightforward. It does see the two sons match their father Wayne as winning Daytona and Sebring in the same year, which he did in 1996.

Jordan and Ricky Taylor led most of the race with new third driver Alex Lynn adding to the effort on his U.S. race debut; Lynn stepped into the seat vacated by the now-retired Max Angelelli. Lynn had one or two minor moments getting through lapped traffic but otherwise matched “Max the Ax” from a pace standpoint to add to the Taylors’ charge, after qualifying an unrepresentative sixth on the grid.

Ricky Taylor brought the car home to the victory over Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Cadillac by 13.614 seconds after 348 laps of racing around the 3.74-mile, 17-turn, Sebring International Raceway. Barbosa shared his car with Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque.

The second Action Express car, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac of Dane Cameron, Eric Curran and Mike Conway, completed an all-Cadillac podium in the Prototype class. That car was delayed after an early spin between Curran and Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi, which ultimately cost Curran two laps and the team spent the rest of the race playing catch-up.

In fourth after running their own flawless race, but lacking the consistent and sustained pace to match the Cadillacs, was the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson of Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller. This gives the John Church-led team its second top-five in as many endurance races to kick off the season.

Those were the only four cars of the 11 in the marquee Prototype class category that did not encounter some sort of issue during the day. Both Mazda RT24-Ps, both Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis, and the LMP2-spec Rebellion Racing and Visit Florida Oreca 07s and the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 all hit some sort of misfortune on the treacherous Sebring circuit.

Prototype Challenge also saw another team repeat from Daytona, with Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based Performance Tech Motorsports adding a Sebring win with three of the same four drivers as at the Rolex 24. A clean, almost effortless run saw James French, Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson take the No. 38 Oreca FLM09 to the team’s second win on the trot after not having won previously since 2013 on the streets of Baltimore.

Starworks Motorsport soldiered on to finish second with its own trio of young guns, Garett Grist, Max Hanratty and Sean Rayhall. Both BAR1 Motorsports cars also finished, with the No. 20 car delayed a bit behind the No. 26 car. For the maligned PC class in its final year, it was a nice surprise to see all four cars finish the race and not cause any of the six full-course cautions.

The GT classes resume alongside with the Prototype class at Long Beach next month, while Prototype Challenge is off until Circuit of The Americas in May.

Hamilton hails ‘greatest day’ after USGP victory, Mercedes title win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his jubilation after taking a giant step towards his fourth Formula 1 championship win with victory in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix that also saw Mercedes clinch the constructors’ title.

Hamilton recovered from an early pass by F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel to take his sixth victory on American soil, five of which have come at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, to extend his lead to 66 points.

With just 75 left on offer this season, Hamilton needs just one top-five finish in the final three races to clinch his fourth world title, with the enormity of the victory not being lost on the Mercedes driver.

“Today has been amazing. It’s been the greatest day,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race.

“I woke up a bit tired, felt the rain, then was like, ‘What the hell?’ But I didn’t mind. I won here in the rain in the past. Then it dried up, clear blue skies, amazing opening at the beginning of the GP.

“I lost first place into Turn 1. It was OK. That first section, we got through there, and it felt very reminiscent of 2012: ‘Game on. You have to save the tires’, and he wasn’t doing that. I kind of kept my cool.”

“I saw I got a good exit of Turn 1, this was the lap and it was. His tires were dropping off anyway.”

Hamilton’s victory saw Mercedes wrap up its fourth consecutive F1 constructors’ title with three races to spare, with the Briton having played a key part in each of its successes.

“I’m so proud of this team. Big congratulations to the guys, people don’t know the amount of work they do,” Hamilton said.

“It’s over 1,500 people in two factories, so much brainpower and a lot of people to manage to extract the best from each of those.

“To come into a new era of car and perform as we have. There’s been a newfound love within the team. Ferrari, we want to beat them, thrash them.

“So they put more hours of working in to do that. That’s for all their hard work.”