With 11 hours remaining in the 2019 Sebring 12 Hours, it’s an Action Express Cadillac 1-2 with rain still coming down in Florida.
The rain throughout the morning caused the organisers to start the race under safety car conditions due to the low visibility caused by the spray. It meant the race didn’t get going for 40 minutes, causing a frantic 20 minutes to finish the hour.
At the start into Turn 1, Dane Cameron in the #6 Acura Team Penske DPi went backwards, Tristan Nunez in the #77 Mazda pouncing to take the lead.
Both Cameron and Castroneves in the sister #7 Penske Acura were nowhere on pace, struggling due to the team setting the tyre pressures too high, dropping like stones out of the top 10 and behind the leading GTLM cars.
Meanwhile, Filipe Albuquerque flexed his muscles in the conditions, the Portuguese racer going on to take the lead off the #77 Mazda in the #5 Action Express Cadillac at the hairpin on the second lap of green flag running. Nunez then dropped to third behind Pipo Derani in the sister AXR Cadillac shortly after.
At the turn of the hour, Albuquerque had fallen back behind Derani, the pair of DPi V.Rs over 10 seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Elsewhere in the class, the only other notable occurrences during the first hour involved the Rolex 240-winning Wayne Taylor Cadillac. The team pitted the car multiple times with Jordan Taylor behind the wheel to fuel up and check the front during the safety car laps at the start. It puts the team on a completely different strategy from its competitors for the rest of the race, though at this point it is at the very back.
In LMP2 the Performance Tech ORECA leads the way, getting past the PR1 example.
Ford leads GTLM now. Patrick Pilet in the #911 had found himself missing his Porsche teammate Laurens Vanthoor on the front row of the GTLM grid, Vanthoor having to start from the pit lane having failed to report to scrutineering after setting his P2 qualifying lap.
After 43 minutes under yellow Pilet held the lead briefly at the green flag, but the #911 Porsche dropped to the back of the entire field to join Vanthoor who was also struggling. Both were immediately into the pits for a full set of new wet tyres, pressures too high for the conditions. Trying not to lose a lap, the Porsche team conceded their car was not at its best in the wet, as they had found at Daytona.
This made Richard Westbrook’s #67 Ford GT the GTLM leader, Tom Blomqvist’s #25 BMW and Dirk Mueller’s #66 Ford in its wake through the back sweepers. BMW’s Jesse Krohn held fourth in the #24 M8 GTE, ahead of the #3 and #4 Corvettes.
GTD saw a near immediate lead change when the race went green, Trent Hindman in the pole setting #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo losing out to Zacharie Robichon in the #9 Pfaff Porsche. Hindman though wasn’t fazed by the move and stayed in the wheel tracks of the new leader before moving by to retake the lead out of T1 just before the top of the hour.
Christina Nielsen held a strong third slot in the second #57 MSR Acura.
Despite the conditions, there were precious few significant incidents, Frankie Montecalvo suffering a spin on the exit of T17 just before the 60-minute mark with the Moorespeed Audi doing likewise minutes later. Both rejoined without damage but lost places.