SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Earl Bamber passed Richard Westbrook for the lead, not once, but twice in the final hour to win the 12-hours of Sebring with co-drivers Alex Lynn and Neel Jani.
Bamber was chasing down Westbrook and when the clock ticked just under an hour left in the event, the No. 02 Cadillac passed the No. 5 Cadillac. Seconds later Bamber and the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Simon Mann got together, sending Bamber spinning.
All of the drama unfolded about a half hour after the final driver change between Lynn and Bamber. Lynn came to pit road with a 30-second lead and handed the car over to Bamber who, on his out-lap, collided with the No. 13 AWA Duqueine D08 LMP3 car driven by Kuno Wittmer. IMSA issued a drive-through penalty that gave the lead to Westbrook.
Bamber fell behind Westbrook by 6-seconds following the spin with Mann but ran down the former CGR driver and passed him with 435-minutes left in the event.
“It was some of the best driving I’ve done and some of the worst at the same time, all in about one and a half hours,” said Bamber. “I’m just really happy that we could recover and get back to the front. It was a team effort, not an individual one. I could’ve probably made it a hell of a lot easier for everyone else, but hey, I made it.”
Tristian Vautier was able to cut into Bamber’s lead following the final round of pit stops to bring the No. 5 Caddy home in second followed by Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.
“The 02 came out of the pits 7-seconds ahead and we entered the final lap 2.5 behind,” said Vautier. “Then I took it easy on the last lap. I knew it was over and we were tight on fuel. It’s a very solid day for the team. We were third at Daytona and second here. We can be proud.”
The victory was the second in the event for Chip Ganassi’s team, who also won the event in 2014 with co-drivers Marino Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
The WeatherTech Championship resumes April 8-10 with the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Sebastien Bourdais win the pole position for the 70th Twelve Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sebastien Bourdais will lead the 70th Twelve Hours of Sebring field to the green flag after winning the pole position with a fast lap of 1 minute, 45.166 seconds (128.025 mph) in the No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Bourdais managed the notorious bumps of Sebring International Raceway’s 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit Friday to break Pipo Derani’s track record that was set last year.
“Leave it rough, leave it natural, don’t touch it,” said Bourdais of Sebring. “It’s the motto of this place. It is very difficult, but overall, it’s the same. It’s a challenge for everyone.”
Derani was just 0.026-seconds behind Bourdais in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac.
Row 2 of the Daytona Prototype International Class (DPi) has Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 lined up third with Alex Lynn in the No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac.
Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac rounded out the Top 5 in the No. 31 in the Action Express Racing Caddy.
The green flag is scheduled to fly Saturday at 10:10 a.m. ET. Live flag-to-flag coverage is available on Peacock, with USA joining the broadcast on TV from 3:30 p.m. to 10:30. Live coverage also is available on IMSA Radio via IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Chip Ganassi to be Honoree at ‘The Amelia’ this weekend
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi is adding another honor to his considerable list of accomplishments, being selected as this year’s Honoree at ‘The Amelia’, the award-winning car show formerly known as the ‘Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance’.
Ganassi, 63, joins an exclusive list of previous Honoree’s that include Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, Sam Posey, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, Hurley Haywood, David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jochen Mass, to name a few.
“To be selected as the Honoree at ‘The Amelia’ this year, it certainly ranks among the high points of my career,” said Ganassi. “I’m truly honored to be respected by my peers in this way and join the likes of so many legends I’ve long admired. I’ve been fortunate enough to make this a career and I still feel that I have as much passion for the sport as I did 40 years ago, qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie.”
A select fleet of Ganassi’s legendary race cars will be featured as part of the show:
- 1994 Reynard 94i that Michael Andretti scored Chip Ganassi Racing’s first win at Surfer’s Paradise.
- 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner that Juan Pablo Montoya drove to victory and Rookie of the Year honors.
- 2006 Lexus Riley Rolex 24 at Daytona Champion driven by Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears.
- 2010 Chevrolet Impala that Jamie McMurray piloted to the Daytona 500 win.
- 2010 Honda INDYCAR that Dario Franchitti drove to win the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
- 2022 Cadillac DPi which recently competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona.
- Ford GT Chassis 007 which won the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona, 2017 Road America, 2018 Watkins Glen and Lime Rock.
Ganassi is among the most successful race team owners in the world with 14 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championships and eight IMSA Sports Car titles. Overall, his teams have 22 championships with more than 230 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, eight Rolex 24 at Daytona events, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was founded by car collector and businessman Bill Warner in 1996, who launched his career as a photographer and writer for Road & Track magazine in the early 1970s. Today, the event’s economic impact on Florida is estimated at nearly $30 million a year and has donated over $4 million to various charities since its inception.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was recently acquired by Traverse City Michigan-based Hagerty, an American automotive lifestyle and membership company and the world’s largest provider of specialty insurance for classic vehicles. Hagerty rebranded the Florida collector car event as “The Amelia,” in 2021. Showcased throughout the event weekend are some of the rarest and most unusual collector automobiles from all over the world. For more information on ‘The Amelia’, visit: https://www.ameliaconcours.com/event.
Meyer Shank Racing Wins Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves held off Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor to win this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
Castroneves was out front on the last lap when cars from another class got together trying to sort out their race, with the overall leader rapidly approaching.
“I saw nothing, which was absolutely dirt,” said Castroneves. “I did not expect a big crash like that right in front of it. So thank God — it was a little bit of an anticipation/luck at the same time. And thank God I had a little bit of a gap between me and Ricky so that I could plan that. But it was very scary.”
Castroneves brought it home in one piece to secure the victory for the affable Brazilian and co-drivers Simon Pagenaud, Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist.
“First and foremost was the strategy,” remarked Pagenaud. “We were able to save fuel and go longer than anyone. And the team, they set themselves up to make sure at the end we would put less fuel in the car, would take us less time to leapfrog everybody, basically, in the pits. And that’s exactly what happened.”
“I think Simon and Helio really touched on it, it’s a real team effort,” said Jarvis. “I was so impressed, sat up on the pit wall, throughout that race. It was so calm and methodical, the way they went about approaching the race. It was like they had won the race ten times already.”
“I was speechless after the race. I mean, I dreamed of it. Did I believe? Yes. But you never know. I mean, it’s 24 hours of relentless racing. And every time I jumped in the car, moments I felt really comfortable. At moments I was, like, man, I can’t get this car to work. It was just a roller coaster of a race. And every stint here is just flat out.”
The No. 60 MSR Acura started fourth and didn’t exactly light the speed charts on fire early before cutting a tire and going a lap down.
“I was going so crazy today,” said team co-owner Michael Shank. “We came out of the gate and we went from — where did we start? Fourth to last — What the (expletive) is going on here? And we got much better and I stopped talking on the intercom, got better.”
The victory was the second for Shank, who won the 50th Rolex 24 in 2012 and now has his second watch.
“The first thing I’ve got to say is that that day was really special with John Pew and Ozz Negri and AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson,” recalled Shank. “We lost Justin in Pocono in 2015. And so I kind of think about that first. But to do what we did that year, which was just really catapulted the team and the business to another level really kind of started our trajectory that we’re at today. And I’m really grateful for that and met so many great people.”