Mazda Wins 12-Hours of Sebring; Acura Team Penske Wins DPi Championship
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Mazda Motorsports captured the 12-Hours of Sebring endurance race with the No. 55 Mazda DPi, driven by Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell and Ryan Hunter-Reay, beating the No. 6 Team Penske Acura by 10.154-seconds at Sebring International Raceway.
The No. 77 Mazda DPi appeared to be headed for the victory but cut a left rear tire with 27-minutes remaining to bring out a full-course caution. That gave the lead to Tincknell in their sister car who brought the car home with the win with the No. 77 rallying to finish third.
“I said to myself, ‘This is what you dream of,’” Tincknell said. “Twenty minutes to go, leading one of the biggest races in the world. You just have to go for it, give it everything you have. No regrets. I just pushed like crazy.”
The DPi victory went to Mazda but the DPi Championship went to the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi co-driven by Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi.
Forty minutes into the race, the left intercooler malfunctioned on the Team Penske machine, which took 25-minutes to repair. The Acura returned to the race far behind the field with their championship hopes looking dim.
Team Penske’s hopes brightened when a collision between Oliver Jarvis in the No. 77 Mazda and Scott Dixon in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac forced Dixon to limp to the pits with a flat right rear and led to an extensive repair.
“I think there was no way he was going to make the corner,” Dixon said. “I kind of saw him coming and tried to give him enough without wrecking myself. I got off track a little bit in the hairpin and got dirty tires.”
The No. 10 Cadillac returned to the race but was laps down and the WTR Caddy only finished one spot ahead of the No. 7, which was not good enough in the final standings.
The No. 7 Acura finished one point ahead in the final IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings in the driver, team and manufacturer categories.
“In racing, anything is possible,” said Castroneves, who picked up the first season Championship in his 23-year career. “We started the season with no points on the board and all of a sudden we’re battling for the championship. Unfortunately, in this situation, it was completely outside of our hands. We literally were waiting for things to happen, and they did. It was destiny. I always say if it’s meant to be it will be, and I’m so glad it was our turn. You never give up. … We never gave up.”
“To me, Helio is Team Penske, and it was the privilege of a lifetime to get to drive for Acura Team Penske,” Taylor said. “To win it with him was one of the highlights of my life.”
The No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07, co-driven by Patrick Kelly, Simon Trummer and Scott Huffaker, took home the victory in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class. The No. 52 claimed the team and driver championships Nov. 1 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R took home the victory in the GT Daytona class. The GTD Championship went to the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX of defending series champion Mario Farnbacher, Matt McMurry and Shinya Michimi thanks to a third-place class finish at Sebring. MSR takes home the class Championship by eight points over over nine other competing performance car OEM’s, include Porsche, Lexus, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Porsche Penske Motorsport grabs IMSA GTP win at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Porsche Penske Motorsport picked up their inaugural IMSA Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) win taking Saturday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Penske’s team elected to not take tires on their one and only pit stop of the day and the time savings on pit road proved to be the difference.
Nick Tandy kept the No. 6 Porsche 963 within striking distance of leader and pole winner Filipe Albuquerque and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura, who elected to take on new tires during their pit stop. The Penske drivers figured it was their best shot at the win.
“We kind of knew from practice and qualifying that our pace was probably not going to win us a race,” said Tandy. “We wanted to try something different, and one of our options was to try and negate the tire warm-up issue that many teams have had in GTP this year, so we went with no tires. What we didn’t know was how the tire was going to end up over the last 40 minutes because nobody had run the tire that long.”
Co-driver Mathieu Jaminet, who took over for Tandy, took to the lead but ran into lap traffic late in the race to set-up a 2-lap dual with the No. 10, who had Jordan Taylor now behind the wheel.
The Acura drafted the Porsche down Shoreline Drive and drew even under braking into Turn 1, but Taylor misjudged the maneuver and skidded wide into a tire barrier allowing third-place runner Connor de Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 to squeeze past.
The caution flag came out ending the racing with Jaminet and Tandy celebrating a monumental first win for the Porsche 963. De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly celebrating second place in the No. 25 BMW.
“(Taylor) had fresher tires and after I got caught in traffic with two laps to go, it made sense that he went for it,” said Jaminet. “I braked really late, and I saw him going past. I thought, ‘If he can make it stop, I’ll be impressed.’ I saw him lock up and he went straight in the fence.
“I knew it was going to be very close,” he added. “I just tried to make no mistakes with the traffic. As a team, you need to figure out the opportunities and take what’s there when it’s in front of you. Today was a real team effort, in the pits and with car No. 7. Everybody can be proud today.”
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N, May 12-14 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Heartbreak for Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing at 12-Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Things were looking promising for Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing through the first eight hours of the 71st running of the 12-Hours of Sebring endurance race but disaster struck in hour nine.
Sebastien Bourdais was leading the field when things started going wrong on the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R forcing the car to pit road. Smoke and flames could be seen coming out from underneath the bodywork as the car came down pit road.
“The No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R experienced a fuel distribution system issue,” Cadillac Racing said in a statement. “It is the first time we have seen it in testing — including a successful 24-hour test at Sebring International Raceway in November and two days of testing at the track in February — and race conditions. Cadillac Racing will figure out the root cause and prepare for the next race.”
“The team has worked hard to prepare for this race,” said Mike O’Gara, CGR Director of Operations. “We proved we have a fast race car and great pit stops. Some things happen that are out of your control, but that’s racing. I’m proud of the effort from the entire team, and I know we’ll keep at it and continue chasing this championship.”
The No. 01 Caddy started from the front row and led 120-laps in the race before the retirement with Bourdais grabbing the lead after just over an hour.
“It’s obviously pretty disappointing for everybody,” said Bourdais, a two-time 12-Hour winner. “The car was quick. Cadillac seems to have something that works pretty well at Sebring, so that’s really encouraging. I think we made some great progress from Daytona in performance, so that’s also encouraging for the rest of the season after finishing on the podium. It’s great to see the program heading in the right direction and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac are working very hard to make progress.”
6-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon added to the lead following the first driver change, building a 47-second lead before turning over the driving duties to Renger van der Zande following the fourth pit-stop, 4-hours and 7-minutes into the race.
“It was quite the race,” said Dixon. “The car was really fast and I felt like everybody on the team did a tremendous job. We had some ups and downs, but ultimately, we were top-three most of the race and led a good majority of it. Just bummed that it ended the way it did, and we didn’t win the race. It’s one that’s eluded me, and it would have been great to take this one. But, we had great speed, great teamwork and everybody did a hell of a job.”
van der Zande was just as quick, setting the fastest lap of the race (1:48.311) on lap 165.
“Sebring is a special one, and it’s a shame that it didn’t fall in our direction,” said van der Zande. “We had a strong Cadillac car here and while we’ve been testing all over, we’re still trying to improve things across the board. We’re still learning. We go deep to try to optimize performance. It’s just an unfortunate end to the race after showing so much speed.”
The No. 01 Cadillac crew will compete in their next IMSA race on April 15 in Long Beach, California.
Chip Ganassi Racing returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans
DETROIT, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing is returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June with the newly named Cadillac V-Series.Rs where they will compete for the overall win in the Hypercar class.
Ganassi will field two Caddy’s in the twice around-the-clock endurance event. The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R received an automatic entry based on its full-season participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook are the drivers.
The No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R is a full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entrant in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class, where it races as the No. 01. Sébastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon will be the drivers.
“We are all looking forward to Cadillac returning to Le Mans and challenging for the overall victory. It has been decades since an American manufacturer has achieved this and we will be strongly pushing to achieve our goal,” said Bamber, the overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and 2017.
“We are thrilled to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the full Cadillac Racing team,” said Rory Harvey, Global Vice President of Cadillac. “Over the last 20 years Cadillac Racing has built a legacy of winning on the track and we feel very privileged to return to Le Mans during this exciting new electrified era in racing.”
“Cadillac is excited to build on its racing legacy by competing against the very best internationally and at one of the world’s toughest races,” said GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser. “We’re proud to be representing the United States and the Cadillac V-Series.R is a great continuation of our racing heritage.”
Chip Ganassi Racing last competed in the 24-hours of Le Mans in 2018-2019 when they campaigned Ford GT’s in the LMGTE Pro Class. CGR took home the class win in 2016 with Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller taking the checkered flag 50-years after Ford’s first overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victory.