BACKS UP DAYTONA VICTORY AT 64TH TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING
Coming off of a stirring victory in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Honda Ligier JS P2 returned to Victory Lane with a second consecutive triumph in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Pipo Derani captured the checkered flag in a final sprint in Saturday’s 64th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. With five minutes and 45 seconds to go, Derani passed Dane Cameron in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP from Action Express Racing to take the lead and the eventual victory, sweeping Daytona and Sebring in back-to-back rounds of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“What a tough race this was,” said Derani. “We had some contact, some spins, and moving our way back to the front was just unbelievable. In the end, I knew we had a great car, and new tires. But with only 10 to 15 minutes to go and still be in fourth was difficult to believe that we were going to make it. God had an eye on me and everything I executed was perfect. I can’t believe it all. It happened like that. I was so focused to bring the car home. The adrenaline was so high I couldn’t think about anything else.”
Cameron took second place in the No. 31 Corvette DP along with co-drivers Eric Curran and Scott Pruett. After leading the first two Patrón Endurance Cup segments, the sister Action Express No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette finished third, driven by Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque.
Fittipaldi led at the four-hour mark, picking up the five-point bonus for the first Patrón Endurance Cup segment. Barbosa had control at the eight-hour mark, bringing home another five points the No. 5 team earning the maximum 10-point bonus for leading both segments.
The Patrón Endurance Cup continues with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International in July and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
Like January’s 24 Hours of Daytona, this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring was won by the Extreme Speed Motorsports’ N°2 Ligier JS P2-Honda (Sharp/Brown/Van Overbeek/Derani), while the N°4 Corvette C7/R/Michelin (Milner/Gavin/Fässler) took the GTLM prize. For both cars, it was their third major success in 10 months (Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring).
Round 2 of the 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was marked by poor weather but it will also be remembered for its breath-taking finish.
Torrential rain in central Florida forced the organisers to interrupt the race for more than two hours after the early stages had been dominated by the Corvette DP prototypes. They still led at the midpoint, with the N°5 car running ahead of the N°31.
With 12 minutes remaining, the race was restarted after the 14th ‘Full Course Yellow’ and it seemed as though the Corvettes would duel for the victory when Brazil’s Pipo Derani eased past them both in the N°2 Ligier JS P2-Honda to collect Extreme Speed Motorsport’s second win in a row after Daytona.
The GTLM class saw all 10 cars qualify within less than eight-tenths of a second and it was always going to be a thrilling race. In changing conditions, the Michelin-equipped N°911 Porsche 911 RSR dominated until a big collision with the N°3 Corvette at Turn 1.
As at Daytona, it was the Corvette C7.R/Michelin of Milner/Gavin/Fässler that was first past the chequered flag, four seconds clear of the N°25 BMW M6/Michelin (Auberlen/Werner/Spengler). The Porsche 911 RSR/Michelin of Bamber/Makowiecki/Christensen was third again, with the N°62 Ferrari 488 GTE/Michelin (Risi Competizione) and the N°67 Ford GT rounding out the top five.
The PC class was won by the N°54 Oreca FLM09 (Bennett/Braun/Wilkins) and GTD honours went to the N°63 Ferrari 488 GT3 (Nielsen/Bazan/Segal), 2.280s clear of the N°96 BMW M6 GT3. The top four in this class were covered by just 3.014s!
· Eric Curran, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP: “It was eventful for sure, a pretty wild day – between the weather and delayed race and red flags. Overall we’re really happy. The Whelen staff did such a good job putting together a great car. Leading with just a few laps to go and finishing second is still a great result … a win would have been nice but we’ll take the second and head on to the next race.”
· The No. 2 Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 is the first team to sweep Daytona and Sebring since Doran-Moretti Racing last accomplished the feat in 1998 in a Ferrari 333SP. Wayne Taylor and Jim Pace also accomplished that fete in 1996 co-driving a Riley and Scott Oldsmobile, with Sharp sharing that car in the Rolex 24 victory.
· The No. 10 Corvette DP brought out a caution flag with two hours and 33 minutes remaining when Max Angelelli stopped on track in Turn 7 due to electrical problems, leading to the team’s eventual retirement. Rubens Barrichello and brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor also co-drove.
· Competition was halted for a two-hour, 15-minute, nine-second red flag period called due to lightning and track conditions. After running under yellow as track drying continued, the race went back to green with six-hours, 31-minutes remaining.
· This was the seventh time the Sebring event has been impacted by rain in its 64-year history, and first time since 1997. It was the fifth time the Twelve Hours has been red flagged. The race was stopped in 1993 and 1995 for rain, and 1997 and 2014 for on-track incidents.
- See more at: http://www.imsa.com/articles/Tequila-Patron-SM-Honda-Prototype-Wins-Second-Straight-Victory#sthash.9KxfQx7v.dpuf