In just the car’s second Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis gave the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R its first win. In Stevenson Motorsports’ #6 Liddell escaped chaos at turn one on a late restart to take the lead which, after further incidents helped bring the yellow flags back out, finished under caution.
Liddell was able to avoid a three car incident as the leader flowed through the fast opening corner of the Sebring International Speedway lap.
Shane Lewis led the pack on the restart in the Bodymotion Racing Porsche but was tagged from behind, spinning at the start of accident that also delayed Andy Lally in the Stevenson #9 and put Lawson Aschenbach in the CKS Autosport Camaro out of the race.
The trio of Camaro had been part of the lead throughout the race, Eric Curran in the CKS entry heading the early charge to try and lever pole position winner Trent Hindman from the lead in the Fall–Line Motorsports BMW M3 that John Edwards would take over for the end of the race.
With the race failing to adhere to expectations, the first full course caution only coming with an hour remaining of the two hour, 30 minutes race the lead group was able to break away from the remainder of the pack.
Hindman led the way from Curran, Billy Johnson and the pair of Stevenson entries, Davis and Matt Bell taking the opening stints in their cars. Johnson would drop out of contention, he and co-driver Ian James battling a clutch problem in their Multimatic Motorsports Mustang.
Aside of Hindman’s car Fall-Line had a second car in the lead fight, Ashley Freiberg running in sixth (briefly sixth after taking advantage of a mistake by Bell). However she and Shelby Blackstock in the #48 would be taken out of the race by broken left-rear suspension, the corner collapsing under Blackstock as he rounded turn 16.
The pair of Stevenson Camaros were not so easily moved from the race.
After both had made their first pitstops, installing Liddell and Lally in the driving seat they circulated nose to tail. Lally, the man ahead was clearly displeased with Liddell’s constant – if slightly half hearted – attempts to craft a gap to make the pass on his teammate for second place, Edwards some 20 seconds up the road. Liddell did eventually take the position and, as he tried to pull away, caught the rear of an ST class BMW, neatly removing the rear bumper from the slower car triggering the first full course caution.
It was not the first incident on the race.
An ST class Honda Civic had been removed from the race after light contact pushed into a spin that ended with a damaged rear end against the wall. Boris Said in Turner Motorsports GS BMW was forced to retire that car after outbraking himself on the inside of a line of cars at the hairpin, clattering into the #41 Nissan 370Z as John Farano turned through the corner.
In the ST class the race had been all about the Mazda MX-5 in the class. Randy Pobst ran second, then took the lead in Freedom Autosports’ #26 away from Chad Gilsinger. Meanwhile, both CJ Wilson Racing’s #3 and #5 MX-5 were hurtling forward having had their qualifying times deleted due to a technical infraction.
Making short work of the class drivers Stevan McAleer and Tyler MacQuarrie were quickly inside the top ten, making it second and third, McAleer in the #5 in second closing down the gap to Pobst in the lead. Following pitstops for driver changes the gap between the #26, now driven by Andrew Carbonell, and the #5 in the hand of Chad McCumbee had grown to over 20 seconds, though that gap was removed when the yellow flags flew.
There was a frightening twist in the tale for the CJ Wilson Racing team. Having taken over the #5 Marc Miller had slipped back down the order after pitting for new tyres, and picking up a speeding penalty in the process. However, shortly after the restart he was elbowed off the track on the approach to turn seven, slamming into the wall that protects one of the bridges over the track.
The front of the Mazda was destroyed, Miller suffering broken ribs and a broken ankle in the accident. The damage – both to car and tyre wall – were one of the reasons the race finished under caution, but not before James Clay had suffered brake failure heading into turn three in his Bimmerworld Racing ST entry, causing a dramatic crash that heavily damaged the right side of his car.
Amid the chaos Daytona class winner Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss picked up third in the class behind the pair of Mazdas.
Likewise through the tangle at turn one over the overall lead Liddell had picked up the lead, Edwards had taken second – he had somehow avoided the spinning cars ahead – and BJ Zacharias third in the Doran Racing 370Z that Brad Jaeger started the race in, running the top ten through his stint under the green flag.