The 2012 12 Hours of Sebring holds a special place in motorsport history as the very first FIA WEC event, the one and only time that both the WEC and ALMS shared a single grid, and the one and only international endurance race of the modern era that still, to this day, has not had a combined final result sheet issued!
64 cars across no fewer than nine classes were quite a sight, whether in the paddock, on pit road, on the grid or indeed at speed in the race. It remains a record starting number for any WEC round.
The event itself was, well, just a bit weird, the ALMS still strong but certainly not at its strongest point in a pendular swing, the WEC keen to impress but very aware that with the withdrawal of Peugeot just before the season, that there were substantially more questions than answers over its future!
It would be fair to say that there was a not inconsiderable amount of inter-series rivalry on display, professional relationships were, at times, somewhat under strain, with every detail of the event seemingly infused by difficulty, from car numbering, here was an event that we effectively had thee cars numbered #55, spotted by producing a #55, #055 and #155.
On the track, the racing was, well, pretty good, though in many of the classes the winning margins ended up being measured in laps. The real drama came in the GTE Pro and GTLM classes right at the end of the race, as seems to be the case so often at Sebring
As DSC reported on the night “Joey Hand won GT for BMW Team RLL on the last turn of the last lap with a daring pass for the team’s second straight Sebring victory with the BMW M3 GT.
“It was a frantic race for much of the second half with six cars in position for the lead. Hand appeared to lose the lead on the final lap when he was forced off on the first third of the lap by an AF Corse Ferrari (this was Gimmi Bruni trying to unlap himself!).
“Hand went off track but never lost the lead thanks to a remarkable recovery. Corvette Racing’s trio of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor also got around Beretta at the finish and ended 6.3 seconds behind the BMW. Beretta, Andrea Bertolini and Marco Cioci placed third in their Ferrari F458 Italia.”
Audi won and Allan McNish, one of the ‘Three Musketeers’ aboard the winning car alongside Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen with the Starworks LMP2 HPD making the overall podium to take LMP2, an LMP2 car on the overall podium, a feat not repeated until Le Mans in 2017!
McNish is back, of course, in 2019 as Grand Marshal for both WEC and IMSA races as well as being part of the WEC TV commentary crew.
All 64 cars can be found in a pair of DSC galleries from Martin Spetz posted at the time –
After what was a seriously trying event for more or less anybody and everybody directly involved the WEC decamped to CoTA for the next five years, the return, after Plan A went to Plan B, then Plan C, is one that has fans excited and others donning their tin hats for a week that will see fireworks, on and off track!!
Never a dull moment!