The second quarter of the 64th 12 Hours of Sebring was disrupted majorly by thunderstorms and heavy rain with less than 30 minutes of green flag running in the whole three hour period.
As mentioned in the last report, bad rain and thunderstorms passing over Florida saw the track bathed in both a lot of water and a sea of red flags as IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship officials wisely decided it would be safer to let the weather pass than risk the lives of drivers by competing around a Sebring track more suited to powerboats than some of America’s finest Endurance racers.
However, there were still a few keen battles out on track as various water blowers, soakers and course cars fought doggedly for who could clear most water off the track. It was a stiff fight, but the blowers drove away winners in the end.
They didn’t win the most miles completed during the rain delay award though – that goes to IMSA Radio whose reporters Shea Adam, Jim Roller et al did a great job in interviewing most of the paddock during a delay which ended up lasting two hours and ten minutes.
On the seven hour mark the drivers did eventually get back into their charges and with 30 minutes under the safety car to find their feet and clear the rest of the standing water from the racing line – during which time the #55 SpeedSource Mazda Prototype car hit the tyre wall at turn 10 after somehow overshooting the braking point.
That possibly extend the caution by about five minutes but with 6h:30m left on the clock the field finally got to racing once again with the #2 Ligier JSP2 of Extreme Speed Motorsports speeding off on what was a rapidly drying circuit.
Thanks to pit stops cycling through, that car – with Luis Felipe Derani onboard – didn’t stay in the lead long with the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP hitting the halfway mark leading from the sister #2 Action Express machine and the #24 Alegra Racing BMW-Riley.
In the prototype challenge class no one really wanted to stay on track for too long. Only two minutes after the green flag went out, did Stephen Simpson in the #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports car beach himself at turn 10, that lead to a five minute caution period to recover the car. 15 minutes later Simpson’s sixth hour went from bad to worse as he caught a rather large puddle on the main straight and hit the wall. The car wasn’t badly damaged and managed to make it back into the pits.
That meant starting hour seven in the lead was the #54 Core Autosport car from the #52 PR1/Mathiesen Motorsports entry and the #88 Starworks Motorsport machine of Michael Lyons rounded out the podium spots.
GTLM kept going the way of Porsche as Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber in the #911 and #912 respectively bossed the category and made sure the Porsche 911s would finish this three hour stretch in the lead of the race with Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette Racing C.7R keeping the Porsche pair honest in third place.
Finally GTD and to say the class is finely poised would be both a massive cliche and a major understatement with more than ten cars on the same lap as class leaders Change Racing in their Lamborghini Huracan with most of those on the same lap all within the same minute as each other. Nipping at their heels in second place was the Spirit Of Race Ferrari 458 GT3 and breathing down their necks in third was the #9 Stephenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS with Matt Bell behind the wheel.