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.
JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac Wins 12-Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sebastien Bourdais, driving without the top element of the rear wing of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, took home the overall win in IMSA’s 12-Hours of Sebring for JDC-Miller Motorsports and co-drivers Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval.
Bourdais crossed the finish line 1.45-seconds ahead of Harry Tincknell and the No. 55 Mazda. Bourdais said he lost the element with just under 19-minutes left in the event and was fortunate he didn’t lose control of the car.
“I’m just really lucky that I didn’t stuff it in Turn 17 before I made the adjustments,” Bourdais said. “That was a very, very close call there. At the same time, thankfully I had enough of a gap to (Tincknell) that he didn’t pass us by the time I collected myself. I didn’t know it was the rear wing until I got out of the car (in victory lane), but I knew something had happened aerodynamically.”
The No. 48 Cadillac co-driven by Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi and Simon Pagenaud finished third followed by the Acura Dpi’s of Meyer Shank Racing (Dane Cameron, Olivier Pla, Juan Pablo Montoya) and Wayne Taylor Racing (Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi).
The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac finished 2-laps down in sixth. The CGR Caddy was one of the dominant cars in the event but got clipped by the BMW of Connor De Phillippi with 71-minutes left in the race.
“It was very frustrating,” said Scott Dixon, who was behind the wheel of the Ganassi machine at the time. “It was a very late call from the pits, so I was scrambling to get everything undone. On my way into pit road there was another car there and I had nowhere to go. I feel bad for the team, because everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing did a fantastic job.”
The Ganassi team’s misfortune opened the door for Bourdais, who just put his head down and somehow kept Ticknell behind him.
“Every corner that was coming, I was like, ‘Man, how am I going to do this one?’” Bourdais said. “The flip side of (the broken wing) is that the car was extremely fast down the straightaway, too. I was very hard to pass there.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season resumes May 14-16 with the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
Heartbreak for Chip Ganassi Racing in Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s return to IMSA sports car racing was going along as planned in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race.
The No. 01 Cadillac Daytona Prototype International (DPi), driven by Renger Van der Zande, Kevin Magnussen and Scott Dixon, started seventh but quickly made their presence known leading 225 of the races 807-laps.
A battle to the end was shaping up between CGR and Wayne Taylor Racing in the race’s final half hour. CGR brought Van der Zande in for his final pit stop and WTR brought their new Acura ARX-05 to pit road and changed just left side tires and was able to get out ahead of the No. 01 by about 5-seconds.
Van der Zande, who used to drive for WTR, put the hammer down and chased down Filipe Albuquerque in an epic duel between the two drivers.
— IMSA (@IMSA) January 31, 2021
Disaster struck a few minutes later for the Ganassi team when Van der Zande had to come to pit road because of a cut right rear tire.
It is OVER for Renger Van Der Zande and Chip Ganassi Racing.
— Motorsports on NBC (@MotorsportsNBC) January 31, 2021
The Ganassi team quickly changed the tire but the battle was over at that point as WTR raced to the victory and CGR settled for a fifth place finish.
Team owner Chip Ganassi was proud of his team, especially since the program came together late in 2020.
Im so proud of our team performance this past weekend. Saturday was the 7th day we ran our new @cadillac DPi car. Not even a Covid scare could stop @CGRTeams. Fighting for the lead with 7minutes to go after 23h53m. I'm really proud of all of our men and women on this team.
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) February 1, 2021
Magnussen knew the team had a car capable of winning, which is something the second generation driver didn’t have a chance to do the past few years in Formula One.
If we hadn’t had a puncture with 5 laps to go, I think we would have had a really good chance of winning the race. Motorsport is tough sometimes. Thanks @CGRTeams for an awesome race car. Great job by my teammates @Rengervdz & @scottdixon9. 12h of Sebring next! pic.twitter.com/wHFDY2cOJG
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) February 1, 2021
The Ganassi team did serve notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Wayne Taylor Racing Wins Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) is the 2021 winner of the Rolex 24-Hours At Daytona endurance race.
WTR’s Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 crossed the finish line 4.704-seconds ahead of the Ally Cadillac of Action Express Racing to capture the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class victory as well as the overall victory.
The victory was the third straight for team owner Wayne Taylor, who switched manufacturers from Cadillac to Acura in the off-season, and WTR’s fifth overall.
Filipe Albuquerque drove the final stint of the race and survived a late race battle with Chip Ganassi Racing’s (CGR) Renger Van der Zande, who was forced to pit road after cutting a tire with just over 7-minutes remaining in the twice around-the-clock race.
“He was fast,” said Albuquerque of Van der Zande. “He was faster than me, obviously. But I thought there must be tire trouble. Physics tells you that. When you push too hard, something happens. When you go off track as well, something goes bad. I was not expecting that to happen. When he blew, we were lucky. But there is nobody who has ever won Daytona or any championship without luck.”
WTR’s victory tied CGR’s record of three straight overall wins in the event. The Ganassi team went back-to-back-to-back from 2006-2008.
Co-drivers Helio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi and Ricky Taylor (son of team owner Wayne) exalted in winning the Rolex watch, which is awarded to all of the class winner.
“So much went into this,” said Ricky Taylor, who scored the second overall Rolex victory of his career. “It was definitely a test of trust and a testament to preparation and sticking to a plan. We skipped all of the offseason testing because the guys needed time to do everything properly. They know how to win this race. I feel like we were all lucky to be a part of it.”
The next race for WeatherTech IMSA Sports Car Series is the 12-Hours of Sebring, March 17-20 at Sebring International Raceway.