Mustang Sampling Racing has taken a stunning victory in the Twelve Hours of Sebring, coming back from two laps down to win in a nailbiting finish.
Pipo Derani started the race from the pole position in the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-VR but lost the lead of the race within the first hour to the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-VR of Renger van der Zande.
Derani then became an early casualty when a battle between the two ended with the Brazilian being squeezed into the inside wall at Sunset Bend when the #23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Heart of Racing turned across of them, dealing suspension damage to the Cadillac.
Behind them, the Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-VR also got involved in an early incident when Jimmie Johnson lost the #48 Cadillac DPi-VR at Sunset Bend and hit Duval’s Cadillac, delaying both cars.
After the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 briefly led at the three-hour mark, a pitstop shakeup promoted the #55 Mazda RT24-P into the lead of the race. Chip Ganassi then hit the front again in the fifth hour after a strong pitstop and a charging Scott Dixon, moving into second place before handing over to Van der Zande, who was able to take the lead before Mazda’s Jonathan Bomarito recaptured it before the halfway mark.
Mustang Sampling then suffered even more damage when a wild moment for Felipe Nasr sent the #31 Whelen Cadillac into the #5 Cadillac at turn one, damaging both cars.
Mazda and Chip Ganassi Racing then continued to battle over the lead until Dixon, reinstalled into the car in hour 10 of the race, muscled his way past the Mazda to take the lead of the race on a restart following another caution.
After building up a gap, Chip Ganassi Racing seemed to be headed for a victory until a collision between Dixon and the #25 BMW M8 GTE as the Cadillac attempted to enter the pits damaged the car’s steering and dropped it out of contention.
Amazingly, after all of the bad luck and incidents, the lead was then inherited by the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-VR of Sebastien Bourdais, but he had to face severe pressure from the remaining DPi runners behind.
Bourdais held on to take a remarkable win for himself, Loic Duval and Tristan Vautier, ahead of the #55 Mazda RT24-P of Harry Tincknell, Jonathan Bomarito and Oliver Jarvis, with Dane Cameron, Olivier Pla and Juan Pablo Montoya completing the podium in the #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05.
The #48 Ally Cadillac DPi-VR of Simon Pagenaud, Jimmie Johnson and Kamui Kobayashi did finish third on the road, but was disqualified for a drive time infringement for Pagenaud.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports dominate LMP2
The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07-Gibson of Ben Keating, Scott Huffaker and Mikkel Jensen took a dominant win in LMP2. The team had a relatively clean run to the chequered flag after their two biggest rivals both retired.
The #11 WIN Autosport ORECA 07-Gibson of Steven Thomas, Thomas Merrill and Tristan Nunez retired first with a pitlane limiter issue, before the #8 Tower Motorsport ORECA was taken out by a spectacular crash for Timothe Buret.
The #18 Era Motorsport ORECA 07-Gibson of Ryan Dalziel, Dwight Merriman and Kyle Tilley finished second, while United Autosports completed the podium upon its IMSA return with a third place finish for the #22 ORECA 07-Gibson of Wayne Boyd, Jim McGuire and Guy Smith.
Braun charges through to deliver LMP3 win for CORE Autosport
Performance Tech Motorsports led the early running, but the #38 Ligier JS P320 of Mateo Llarena, Dan Goldburg and Rasmus Lindh fell down due to a combination of spins and penalties. Forty7 Motorsports initially picked up the gauntlet, but it too dropped down the order.
Riley Motorsports then looked to be headed to a one-two finish, were it not for a remarkable comeback for the #54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 of George Kurtz, Jon Bennett and Colin Braun.
After a series of incidents for the team, it was the latter of the three drivers that went on a charge in the night and surpassed both Riley Ligiers to capture the lead and secure an unlikely victory.
WeatherTech Racing claim GTLM win in controversial finish
GTLM was, like at Daytona, a tight battle between BMW and Corvette that had an explosive end. The Corvette camp was reduced to one contender early on when the #4 C8.R of Tommy Milner, Alexander Sims and Nick Tandy developed engine issues, with which it would struggle all race.
BMW seemed to have the race in hand when a strategy error for Corvette dropped the #3 car down the order, but a combination of pace and bad luck for BMW, including a pit lane fire for the #24 M8 GTE, allowed Corvette to catch back up.
Antonio Garcia would regain the lead in the #3 Corvette C8.R after the darkness had fallen, but was still facing intense pressure from the #25 BMW M8 GTE.
That came to a head after the final restart when Connor de Phillippi attempted to overtake Garcia at the Hairpin, only for the two to come together. Garcia suffered damage while De Phillippi was penalized.
This allowed the #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Cooper MacNeil, Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell to take the victory, with the two BMWs completing the podium: the #25 M8 GTE of De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Bruno Spengler second and Jesse Krohn, John Edwards and Augusto Farfus third in the #24 car.
Pfaff Motorsports return to GTD victory lane
The early running in GTD was in the favor of the Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 until the fourth hour, which brought major drama for the GT3-based class.
First, a big crash for two possible victory contender saw the #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo suffer brake failure in the hands of Franck Perera, slam into the side of the #29 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with Billy Johnson behind the wheel, after which both cars smashed hard into the wall.
After the restart, Laurens Vanthoor put the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R into the lead. The Canadian Porsche would remain out front for the majority of the race, with the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R also looking strong and the two Porsches trading the top spot back and forth repeatedly throughout the race.
After the final caution and restart, Vanthoor held on to take the win for himself, Zacharie Robichon and Lars Kern. Second place went to Patrick Long, Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen in the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. Ross Gunn,Ian James and Roman de Angelis completed the podium in the #23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3.