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.