Race Recap: 12 Hours of Sebring Marred by Missed Calls and Cautions [w/videos]
This past weekend saw an event-filled 12 Hours of Sebring race. Chip Ganassi Racing, with driver Marino Franchitti at the wheel, took the overall victory after a long fought battle with Ryan Dalziel for EMS Racing. Unfortunately, along with some great racing, there were too many preventable driver accidents, a late yellow flag that paused the race for WAY too long, and another horrendously bad call from Tudor Series officials that possibly cost a team their win. The first half of the race saw several amateur drivers in PC class make questionable decisions about re-entering the track, as well as maneuvering around other competitors. This is partially due to too many teams and classes out on the track at once, and the lack of experience from amateur drivers. The IMSA and FIA need a deep overhaul of driver rankings in order to prevent such errors — someone will get hurt, it's only a matter of time. Race organizers, officials, and the drivers themselves need to demand and make changes. PHOTOS: See More of the 2014 Ford Daytona EcoBoost Prototype
This incident between Gaston Kirby and the experienced Alex Tagliani, is a prime example of some of the poor decisions made on the part of drivers this past weekend. Luckily, Alex came away with only a minor injury to his hand:
We also saw great racing in the first 6 hours. In PC class, the always brilliant and steadfast team of CORE Autosport raced head to head with RSR Racing. The two teams would occasionally trade positions as 1 and 2 in the class, but they would battle until the end when CORE would take the PC class victory with the talented Colin Braun at the wheel. Porsche was well represented in the 12 Hours as well. They came away with victories in both the GTLM and GTD classes. The team of Porsche North America would win GTLM and Magnus Racing battled to the front for a thrilling and well fought GTD win. While it was Porsche that beat other German OEMs and the American-built Vipers and Corvettes, they were also at the losing end of a bad call. IMSA officials handed out a time penalty of 80 seconds— to the wrong Porsche.
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Apparently, one white Porsche looked like the other. Officials penalized the #22 Porsche of Alex Job Racing, when they should have given it to the #912 of Porsche North America. That team would go on and win. The last half of the race was fairly uneventful. A few Pro-Am PC teams knocked themselves out of the running, which thinned the herd a bit. The DeltWing lead a race for the first time early on, but after the usual mechanical issues and being hit by a GT car, they were unable to finish the race. It will be nice to see them do well in an lengthier endurance test.
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Other highlights of note include one of the Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R deciding to self immolate. The driver, Ben Keating, safely left his vehicle only to watch it burn down to the ground on the track. Video of Viper Flambé:
A late 20 minute yellow flag thrown for a car on track threw the entire race off. Almost everyone agreed while it was necessary to move the car, the stop should not have lasted as long as it did. There are definite teething issues for the series to work out. This is only the second race of the new combined series, and we hope everyone still continues to give it a chance. Barring some of the more egregious errors, the overall racing was fantastic. Now with races being broadcast both on TV and on the IMSA site, it's also convenient to watch. We're definitely looking forward to the next race in April at Long Beach.
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