Mazda wins Twelve Hours of Sebring; Acura Team Penske takes DPi championship

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Mazda Motorsports was the winner of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Saturday while Acura Team Penske scored a podium finish and a DPi championship in its final IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race Saturday.

Harry Tincknell, co-driving the No. 55 with Jonathan Bomarito and Ryan Hunter-Reay, brought home the checkered flag in the season finale ahead as the No. 77 of Oliver Jarvis (co-driving with Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla) suffered a tire puncture while leading with just less than 30 minutes remaining.

“We’re feeling for those guys obviously on the 77; they had a dominating lead, but it’s motor racing, and we all ran hard all race long,” Bomarito told NBC Sports’ Kelli Stavast. “Two Mazdas on the podium, 12 Hours of Sebring winner, it’s unbelievable. This is huge, one of the most physical (tracks), hard on equipment and drivers. To get Mazda the victory in an endurance race, hats off to all the guys.”

RESULTS, POINTS: Where everyone finished and final 2020 standings

Mazda winners Ryan Hunter-Reay, Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito celebrate on the podium with champagne and orange juice (IMSA).

It was an emotional victory for Mazda, which scored its first Sebring victory before scaling back to one car in 2021 (Tincknell will return full time, but Bomarito is expected to be used in endurance races only).

“We’ve had three great years together,” Tincknell told Stavast. “We’ve had our ups and downs this year and the last few years but what a way to cap off this chapter of Mazda Motorsports.”

Harry Tincknell and Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrate their Twelve Hours of Sebring victory (IMSA).

Said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner who drives for Andretti Autosport: “This is the overall win I’ve been looking for and to do it with these boys, such great teammates and did such an awesome job. We had two Mazdas up front, and we put together a great race. This team did a great job, it’s just awesome to finish off 2020 like this.”

Jarvis finished third behind the No. 6 Acura Team Penske of Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud.

Its sister car, the No. 7 Acura of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi, finished last in the DPi class but still one point ahead of Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 to clinch the 2020 title.

Penske, which is putting its sports car program on hiatus as Acura moves to Meyer Shank Racing and WTR next season, exited by winning the past two championships in IMSA’s premier class.

It was the first championship with Penske for Castroneves as the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner closed a 21-season career with the team before returning to IndyCar next year with MSR.

“For me, being able to finish the championship with an amazing organization, an amazing group of people and true friends that last forever,” Castroneves, who joined Penske as an IndyCar driver in 2000,  told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider in a tearful interview. “It’s a new beginning for me. But this I’ll never, ever forget. Can’t thank enough everyone, and Roger (Penske) of course. What an incredible journey.

“I get emotional. It’s so many years, putting this thing together and ending like this is absolutely incredible. It’s a blessing. This is why I fell in love with this sport. It’s amazing. I’m speechless just thinking of so many ups and downs. As RP always says, you lose more than you win.”

Castroneves also praised his teammate, Taylor, as “an incredible man and a hell of a driver” after he  finished the race.

“It was everything,” Taylor told Snider about winning the championship for Castroneves. “After what he’s done for Team Penske, to me, he is Team Pesnke. It was a privilege of a lifetime to get to drive for Acura Team Penske and to have the best three years of my carer.

“To contribute to (Castroneves’) amazing career of not having a championship yet and to win it with him was one of the highlights of my life. We’ll be friends for life.”

Other class winners were:

–The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 and No. 912 of the Porsche GT team swept the top two spots in GTLM, closing Porsche Motorsport’s run in the IMSA division.

It was the third consecutive Twelve Hours of Sebring victory for No. 911 drivers Fred Makowiecki and Nick Tandy, who did a long burnout to mark the final race for the car and team.

“It’s been such an emotional time, especially this weekend, knowing this is the last time we come together as a group,” Tandy said. “I said before the race it’ll make it a lot better if we can celebrate a decent result. I was hoping we were going to win and a three-peat was always on.

“But to do a 1-2 and for the whole team, everybody Porsche, everyone who has put seven years of their lives as much as we have into this program. It’s just a perfect finish, really.”

Porsche drivers also closed the season with three consecutive GTLM victories.

“To finish like that for the team, we put so much energy, so much time, and it’s really a family,” Makowiecki said. “It means so much. This is positive for everybody. We work so hard, so a big pleasure to win three times and in the last race with my buddy (Tandy).”

The GTLM podium for the Twelve Hours of Sebring included both Porsche GT cars (IMSA).

–The No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3R of Wright Motorsports in GTD but still came up two points shy of the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 of Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian for the GTD championship.

“We were biting our nails the whole races; a lot of ups and downs,” MSR driver Matt McMurry said. “We just did consistent laps and made it to the front. The team did an awesome job, and crew performed perfectly.”

It’s the final race for the GTD championship entry as Meyer Shank Racing moves into DPi with Acura. “It means everything” to win the championship, No. 86 driver Mario Farnbacher said after the third-place finish at Sebring. “It hurts a bit that the program ends, but a new chapter will open next year. Great to finish with a championship and podium.”

Wright Motorsports ended its first season on a winning note despite drivers Patrick Long, Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen having to overcome a broken left rear shock absorber three hours into a race on perhaps the bumpiest track in auto racing.

“It really bounces you and was hard to put traction down, but we kept our heads in it,” Long said. “The team put us in position at the end.”

Said Hardwick. “This is a monumental day for us. We came with one goal: To win the race. We gave it our all. It was a tough curveball with the shock, and it really was a difficult car to drive. These two (co-drivers) were monsters, man. They probably drove some lap times that most people couldn’t do. Our crew didn’t miss a beat with pit stops, and it was truly a team effort.”

–The No. 52 ORECA of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports won in LMP2.

All three DPi championship contenders encountered trouble from nearly start to finish of the 12-hour race.

Needing a victory to secure a long-shot title, Pipo Derani overshot a corner and locked up the brakes while trying to pass Montoya’s No. 6 Penske for the lead with two and a half hours remaining. Montoya ran into Derani off the turn while retaking the lead.

A minute later, Derani made a dive-bomb move into a corner and rooted Montoya out of the lead. The Action Express driver, who was trying to win his fourth Twelve Hours of Sebring, then gave up the lead to Olivier Pla and served a drive-through penalty for the contact with Montoya.

When Derani returned to the track, his steering failed, and the team lost a few laps repairing the right-front damage in the pits.

The contact with Montoya marked the third Team Penske driver that Derani has been involved in a shunt with over the past three race weekends.

“I’m surprised, we still got 3 hours to go,” Montoya, who went winless this season and has announced his future plans, told Stavast. “We knew we needed to save a lot of fuel, and we were doing that. They didn’t need to save as much. We knew they were going to be coming. He was just a little impatient.

“He’s done it a couple of times, and put themselves in a bad situation, but it ruined our race. We were leading the race, had a shot at the win, and this is 2020 for us.”

He collided with Taylor while battling for the lead in the Petit Le Mans with 10 minutes remaining (which led to a headed postrace confrontation). Two weeks ago, Derani and Castroneves smashed into each other during practice at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway.

Saturday’s race got off to an inauspicious start for Penske’s final race with Acura. A mechanical disaster struck for its No. 7 barely 40 minutes into the race when pole-sitter Taylor lost power after his first pit stop.

The team discovered a broken left intercooler and needed 25 minutes for repairs, sending Taylor back on track 11 laps down.

For the next four hours, the championship catbird seat was occupied by Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Cadillac, which entered the Sebring season finale trailing Penske by two points.

But in the fifth hour of the race, the No. 10 lost five laps replacing a radiator after Scott Dixon was punted by the No. 77 Mazda being driven by Jarvis.

Dixon also picked up a drive-through penalty for passing under caution (the second penalty of the race for the No. 10 after Renger van der Zande was penalized for an improper lane change on the start).

“That was two stints of hell for me,” Dixon, who had won in his previous two endurance races with the team this season in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Petit Le Mans, told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Getting connected in turn 10 did a ton of damage to the car. We were having a smooth day until that happened.

“I think there was no way (Jarvis) was going to make the corner. I kind of saw him coming and tried to give him enough (room) without braking myself. I don’t think it was our fault.”

After the incidents, Acura Team Penske’s No. 7 duo of Taylor and Castroneves (who were joined by endurance driver Alexander Rossi from IndyCar this weekend) was a point ahead of the WTR tandem of Ryan Briscoe and van der Zande (who had six-time IndyCar champion Dixon as an endurance teammate).

That turned out to be the winning margin as the No. 7 finished seven laps down in eighth for Penske in closing out on top after a three-year run with Acura.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage