Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr dominated the day at Sebring in their #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. and cruised to a win with little fanfare and challenge from the rest of the field. Nasr, returning to IMSA completion following a positive COVID-19 test, crossed the line 36.432 seconds clear of the next DPi car.
“I could not have thought of a better gift I’m out of words right now,” Nasr said after the race. “We had a mega car from the first time we hit the track. I’m super pleased,” he added.
The only other team in the same realm as the #31 Cadillac was the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. Ryan Briscoe and Rengar Van Der Zande were able to hang with the #31 Cadillac in the early stages of the race, but fell back in the Slater portions of the race and settled for second.
The #5 Mustang Sampling JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R. made it an all-Cadillac podium for the Cadillac GP after Sebastian Bourdais crossed the line the just 0.488 seconds ahead of the #77 Mazda RT-24P who was running out of fuel.
This is the third-straight third-place finish for Bourdais and Joao Barbosa.
Mazda, meanwhile, spent most of their day in fuel-saving mode, hoping that a strategy call could vault one of their two cars into a better position. That never came, though, and Mazda had to settle with fourth and fifth with both the #55 Mazda RT-24P and #77 Mazda RT-24P running out of fuel on the cool-down lap.
Acura Team Penske had a day to forget, the #7 Acura ARX-05c suffered a mechanical issue just twenty-five minutes into the race. Castroneves went a lap down briefly but got the wave-around during the race’s only Full Course Yellow.
Neither the #7 Acura or the #6 Acura RX-05c could mount a series challenge to the leaders. They ended the day seventh and eighth or in other words: last and second-to-last.
All of the DPi cars finished the race and the only issue for anyone in the class was the brief engine issue for the #7 Acura.
Corvette converted their 1-2 qualifying performance into a 1-2 formation finish in the race with Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin claiming the win in the #4 Corvette C8.R. It was an easy day for Corvette, whose stiffest completion were plagued by mistakes and misfortunes.
The story of the day in GTLM wasn’t so much how Corvette won the race, but how Porsche potentially lost it.
Early in the race, Porsche had a disastrous ten minutes. Their two cars collided on pit road, ripping the nose of the #912 Porsche 911 RSR off and necessitating two pitstops to fix the damage.
Then, the #912 Porsche was given a drive-thru penalty for a pit stop protocol violation that dropped it even further down the order. While that was happening, the #911 Porsche 911 RSR cut a tyre as Nick Tandy turned the car in for Turn 1. Miraculously, Tandy saved the car from hitting the wall but went a lap down as he nursed the car back around.
With no further Full Course Yellows to help them, the #911 Porsche stayed one lap down for the entirety of the race and leaving Tandy and Frederic Makowiecki to settle for a last-place finish.
For BMW, their race was clean, but not fast. The #25 BMW M8 GTE of Conor De Phillippi and Bruno Spengler ended the race in fourth after conceding the final podium spot to the #912 Porsche in the final 20 minutes of the race.
Despite an incident-free race both the #25 BMW and the #24 BMW M8 GTE crossed the line over one minute behind the winning #4 Corvette, leaving many question marks as to where the pace of the BMW has gone.
While there were no changes to the Balance of Performance parameters for this weekend, BMW was hit with a reduction in their fuel-tank capacity before the July Daytona round that looked to be negatively impacting the team this weekend.
In GTD, the #14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 of Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz took home the win by a margin of 1.510 seconds over the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.
Telitz started the car and had a strong first stint, his highlight moment of the day was a well-executed pass on Robby Foley in the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW around the outside into Turn 1 with one hour and forty minutes to run.
From there, Jack Hawksworth kept the car out front and fended off challenges from the #96 BMW that now had Bill Auberlen aboard who was looking for his record-setting 61st win.
Auberlen and the #96 BMW had to settle for third, though, as Toni Vilander in the #63 Ferrari passed Auberlen for second. The #63 Ferrari led briefly on a strategy call but lost time as the Ferrari needed to take more fuel in their final stop. That gave the lead and eventual win to the #14 Lexus.
Only one GTD car did not finish the race, that was the #44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan Gt3 Evo. According to a Twitter post from driver Andy Lally, the differential on the car broke.
The #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Ryan Hardwick went for a brief spin at Turn 15, the wing of the car was damaged and needed to be replaced. They finished ninth in class, four laps off the leader.
Apart from those incidents, it was a very clean race with no major incidents and just one Full Course Yellow.
The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07 of Patrick Kelly and Spencer Pigot ended the race second on track but first in the official results after the #81 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 was disqualified for a drive-time infringement.
Kelly started the race from pole and blitzed the field, at times leading by a margin of more than thirty seconds. When Pigot got in near the race’s halfway mark, though, they fell behind the #81 DragonSpeed who had replaced Henrik Hedman with Gustavo Menezes fifteen minutes before the #52 ORECA completed their driver change.
Those fifteen minutes were crucial as the team ended up two seconds short of the minimum drive time required for Hedman. While Menezes crossed the line 12.258 seconds ahead of Pigot, it was all for nought.
The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA 07 of Cameron Cassells and Kyle Masson was promoted to second. The #18 Era Motorsport ORECA 07 of Kyle Tilley and Dwight Merriman rounded out the podium.
One LMP2 ran into issues during the race. The #8 Tower Motorsports ORECA 07 stopped on track in the early going and brought out the race’s only Full Course Yellow.
Pics Courtesy and Copyright IMSA/ Levitt Michelin Racing USA/ Dole Cadillac Racing Corvette Racing/ Prince