2017 IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring Winners equipped with Braille Lithium Batteries
By: Charles Bradley, Editor in Chief
Wayne Taylor Racing added the 65th 12 Hours of Sebring to its 55th Daytona 24 Hours success, leading a Cadillac 1-2-3 in the American sportscar classic.
WTR’s Alex Lynn, paired with team owner Wayne Taylor’s sons Ricky and Jordan, scored a hard-fought victory over first of the Action Express Cadillacs.
Lynn took the lead after WTR opted to short-fuel the car in the eighth hour, leapfrogging ahead of the AXR’s erstwhile leading #5 car of Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, having run an extra lap in its previous stints.
Albuquerque jumped ahead again when Lynn tripped over a GTD Audi, but the shoe was on the other foot in the next stint, when Jordan Taylor dived past Albuquerque when he got baulked by the #33 GTD Mercedes.
Ricky Taylor was installed for the final stint, against Barbosa in the #5 AXR machine. Taylor was in complete control, adding a second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory on the trot.
The second Action Express-run Cadillac, the #31 car, suffered a setback when Eric Curran rammed the dawdling Nissan DPi of Johannes van Overbeek at Turn 17, and it took four laps to restart the car. It regained enough time to finish third, but was never a factor in the lead battle.
The #85 JDC-Miller-run Oreca was the best of the LMP2 cars, but finished a distant fourth overall.
The challenge of the pole-sitting Rebellion-run Oreca withered right from the end of Neel Jani’s first stint, when a sequence of airgun, starter motor and alternator problems blighted its challenge. Both ESM Nissan DPi machines also fell out with mechanical woes.
Performance Tech Motorsports led the PC category throughout, from the Starworks #8 car.
Corvette takes stunning GTLM win
The pole-sitting GTLM #67 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook/Scott Dixon did not take up its position on the grid due to an issue getting it started. But once going, the car tore through towards the front in just a couple of hours – albeit running off sequence to rivals, which complicated matters.
In the latter stages, Ford stuck to its pit strategy plan, while rivals from Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche all pitted opportunistically under yellow in Hour 9.
It allowed the #3 Corvette to lead into the final hour, ahead of the #911 Porsche – with the trio of Fords giving chase.
A full-course yellow with just over an hour to go added intrigue to the equation. The final pistop was a disaster for Porsche, as Patrick Pilet was stranded with a right-rear wheelgun failure that dropped him from second in class to fifth.
That put Corvette’s Garcia in pole position for GTLM victory, with two Fords restarting right behind him. But Pilet was flying as the green flag flew – his Porsche working perfectly in the cooler conditions of the night – and he made short work of both Fords and set off after Garcia’s Corvette.
But with potential victory in his sights, Pilet had to pit again with a left-front puncture, handing the race to Corvette and slumping to seventh as he had to serve a drive-through penalty for running over his airgun’s hose.
The #66 Ford of Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais finished second, ahead of the Risi Ferrari and #67 Ford which spun on the final lap.
Riley Mercedes wins GT Daytona
The Riley Motorsports AMG Mercedes GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Mario Farnbacher won the GT Daytona class, overcoming a late-race pit gamble by the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 to skip fresh tyres.
However, Bleekemolen – who had pulled a 28sec lead in the final stint before the yellows – sized up his quarry and passed Alessandro Balzan to retake the lead and pull away to win by nine seconds.
Tristan Vautier drove a heroic race, overcoming mistakes and drive-through penalties by co-driver Boris Said to grab third on the very last lap from Christopher Mies in the Land-Motorsport Audi R8.
Two Lamborghini Huracans, driven by Jeroen Mul (Change Racing) and Mirko Bortolotti (Grasser Racing), stopped in the closing stages, so the highest finishing Lambo was the #48 Paul Miller Racing entry in fifth.