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IMSA: Here’s what drivers said after Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring

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Here’s what drivers said after Saturday’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, the second race of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship:

PIPO DERANI (No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R) – OVERALL WINNER: “Unbelievable job! It was tricky at the beginning of the race, with the rain, but I managed to move my way from fifth into first and open a gap. But today was just one of those days, where everything clicked and nothing went wrong. Big thanks to my team, the Whelen Engineering Cadillac is an amazing car and I’m really happy to have won three times in four years. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the job the Action Express guys have done behind the scenes, and Felipe at the end and Eric keeping the car in front. What a day!”

FELIPE NASR (No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R) – OVERALL WINNER: “Today was a super challenging day and I am so proud of the job by the entire Action Express team. They gave us an amazing car to drive today, in all the different conditions from wet to dry to drizzling, and Tim Keene was superb with the calls. Pipo had an amazing start in the rain, that was a really tricky part of the race and he nailed it. He was able to put the car into the lead and just walk away with it, and Eric [Curran] stabilized the lead and kept the car going forward. In the end, the job for me was to get to the finish line. Those last 20 minutes were super intense, trying to hold off the 10 car. They were pretty fast. I’m so happy we got the victory and nailed every hour for the endurance championship as well. A perfect day of racing!”

JORDAN TAYLOR (No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R) – finished second in DPi: “We had a third-place car all day, so to finish second was good. I think we over shot what we were capable of today. It was a good points day. We would have loved to win Sebring again, but I didn’t think it was worth a huge risk for the points to make a move there at the end. I am happy with second and we will go on to Long Beach. He [Nasr] was strong. I could have taken look in the Hairpin when he was being held up by the 54 [Colin Braun], but he was moving around a lot. Maybe I think big picture a little too much, but I think we leave here happy with second.”

BRENDON HARTLEY (No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R) – finished third in DPi: “I really enjoyed working with Felipe [Albuquerque] and Joao [Barbosa] and all the guys with the Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac team. It was tricky in the beginning, to jump into a completely different car and it definitely took one or two stints because I don’t have much experience in this car. I lost a place to Jordan early when I got caught sleeping and was not sure how much was in the tires, which was a little bit of inexperience with this car, but all in all, I felt good. I didn’t expect to end with a quadruple stint and after yesterday’s race, I was completely drained at the end of tonight. We didn’t have the pace of the other car but both sides of the garage had a flawless race and we’re both on the podium, which is amazing.”

NICK TANDY (No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR) – finished first in GTLM, 10th overall: “It was a totally crazy race that one rarely experiences. We got the lot: extremely wet at the beginning, a dry track, then predicted rain, which didn’t eventuate. We started from pole, then quickly fell back, only to end up in the lead again. You only get such things at a long-distance race. And this is the precisely the kind of discipline that Porsche excels at. Never give up, always push and then pull out all stops at the right moment. That’s how it’s done.”

PATRICK PILET (No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR) – finished first in GTLM, 10th overall: “It somehow feels unreal. We started from pole position, and then we were running last, and now we celebrate our second Sebring victory in a row – unbelievable! Our team is simply something very special. We never gave up, we always believed that we had a chance and now we’re standing here as winners. It’s indescribable.” 

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) – finished sixth in GTLM, 16th overall: “What a race. Just a really disappointing result to be honest. Everything else about it was just absolutely perfect. I think we looked pretty good for about eleven hours and 55 minutes yesterday, and unfortunately at the end, we caught the yellow that we didn’t need, and then on the restart, trying to go for the win, [we] got tangled up in some GTD traffic, and it spun me around. It was a real bummer. I know those guys were also having their race and not so worried about checking their mirrors. It’s hard to put blame anywhere, but I was also going for the win and maybe I should of been thinking of settling for second but [that] didn’t even cross my mind at the time.”

KYLE MASSON (No. 38 Centinel Spine/ Orlando Health LMP2) – finished first in LMP2, 17th overall: “This race weekend went really well. We started out with a really solid qualifying. Coming off of Daytona our pace was not as good as we would have liked. To come here and be on pace and able to battle left both myself and the team feeling confident. Our gap was only 1/100 of a second to our competitor, so I’m really happy with how the car ran all weekend. The crew really deserved this; they put together a great car.”

CAMERON CASSELS (No. 38 Centinel Spine/ Orlando Health LMP2) – finished first in LMP2, 17th overall: “It’s incredible to share this win with Performance Tech. To run up front at Daytona and then walk away with a second felt like last place. To come here and pull off a win is incredible. The class was small, but this is multi-class racing, so it was not short of challenges. It really is amazing to walk away from Sebring a winner.”

MIRKO BORTOLOTTI (No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) – finished first in GTD, 19th overall: “What a race! Winning Sebring, one of the toughest races on the entire calendar, is just amazing. The last two hours were the toughest of my whole career. First off, I outbraked Andy Lally in the first turn, and then after that, he stuck to my bumper for an hour and a half until we reached the finish line. The slightest mistake would have been enough to lose us the win, and what’s more, I really needed to save fuel but wanted to secure victory more than anything. Hats off to everyone in the team! I’m really proud of every one of them.”

RIK BREUKERS (No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3) – finished first in GTD, 19th overall: “It had already occurred to us during practice that we had the potential to win here. Conditions at the start were very difficult but Rolf [Ineichen] did a great job. Mirko followed him for his stint and won a couple of positions. We lost some ground after that but hit back as night fell. Mirko then did everything possible over the last two hours to try and get us back in the lead. The whole team were outstanding throughout the weekend and pulled off a masterly feat of strategy. We are delighted to have won this prestigious race.”

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”