Coverage of the 12 Hours of Sebring is currently on NBCSN, the NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com.
After nearly four hours of dry weather, rain returned to Sebring International Raceway. As most often is the case, it returned to part of the track first with Turns 9-13 getting wet and the remainder of the course largely dry.
As half of the the track lost grip, drivers tried to put the decision of whether to pit off as long as possible. Jonathan Bomarito went a lap too far in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest car. He slid off course and contacted the wall. The No. 55 already had some nose damage and were hoping for a caution. While they did not want to be the car that brought out the caution, the damage was not severe and they were able to continue albeit two laps behind in eighth.
Pipo Derani and the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac maintained the lead with Renger van der Zande assuming second before the pit stops.
The incident saved Joao Barbosa, who chose to stay on slick, dry tires during his most recent pit.
The caution gave everyone chance to make a more informed decision and Barbosa left pit road in second.
Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac exited in third with Simon Trummer fourth and the only other car on the lead lap (Lap 171).
During this segment, the No. 6 Acura Team Penske entry had a long pit stop at just short of the 4-hour mark. Sitting still for nearly five minutes with electrical gremlins, they also changed the back wing. Juan Pablo Montoya turned the wheel over to Simon Pagenaud with a three-lap deficit.
The 4-hour mark was important for another reason. Points are awarded for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup; at that point, Felipe Nasr led Olivier Pla by 25 seconds.
At the halfway point, Scott Dixon exited the pits with the lead over Antonio Garcia in the GTLM class. Six of the eight teams that started GTLMs were still on the lead lap. In GTD, Rik Breukers in the No. 11 Grasser Racing Lamborghini led Zacharie Robichon in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, with 11 of 17 entrants still on the lead lap and in contention.
At the 4-hour, 9-minute mark, Bia Figueiredo spun from second. She took the opportunity to come in and make a driver change, handing the No. 57 Meyer Shank Racing Acura (GTD) to Katherine Legge.
One of the biggest incidents of the first half of the race came in the GTD class at the 4-hour, 32-minute mark. Philip Frommenwiler in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus car got into the back of his teammate, Frankie Montecalvo, when it appeared that Montecalvo’s No. 12 entry got loose in Turn 14.
“We were running nose to tail, staying very clean,” Montecalvo told NBCSN after climbing from his car for a driver change. “I ended up pushing a little wide getting up on the wet curb. Not sure what happened or how he came into the back of me. It just was a direct hit from behind. I think the water and the wheel spin slowed down my exit speed.”
The No. 12 Lexus got to the 6-hour mark one lap off the pace and 12th in class.