An emphatic final stint from Pipo Derani secured a second consecutive victory for Extreme Speed Motorsports at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The 22 year old, who shared the #2 Ligier JS P2 with Ed Brown, Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek, took on a new set of slick tyres with 35 minutes to go as the other cars opted not to change.
That gave Derani the opportunity to eat into the advantage held by the two Action Express Racing Corvette DPs, and with 11 minutes to go he was on the tail of second-placed Filipe Albuquerque following a late caution for the retrieval of the #50 Riley DP.
Albuquerque, driving the #5 Action Express that won at Sebring last year, was caught by surprise at turn seven when Derani made a lunge to split the two Corvettes.
Next up the road was Dane Cameron in the #31, whose older tyres were no match for the Ligier. One lap later, at the same turn seven spot, Derani forced his way through on the inside and proceeded to build an unassailable gap at the front of the field.
Derani took the chequered flag by a margin of 1.282 seconds, with Cameron holding off Albuquerque for second. In fourth by four seconds was the DragonSpeed Oreca 05 that had bounced back from a number of early issues, while the Visit Florida Racing DP finished a further 14s back.
The only other car to complete the lead lap was the #55 Mazda, after the #60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier was forced to make a pit stop on the penultimate lap.
Prototype Challenge honours went to the #54 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09 of Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Mark Wilkins after recovering from an early off-track moment during the second hour downpour. Second in class was the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry just 1.282s adrift, while the third placed #8 Starworks machine ended the day three laps down.
GT Le Mans provided a close-fought contest that saw Corvette Racing take its second consecutive win in the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. The car shared by Oliver Gavin, Marcel Fassler and Tommy Milner led most of the final hour and was able to hold off the gaggle of cars during the concluding green flag period.
BMW Team RLL’s #25 M6 settled for the runner-up position just under three seconds behind, while the #912 Porsche completed the top three. Both the #911 Porsche and #3 Corvette were put out of contention during the sixth hour when Kevin Estre and Jan Magnussen collided heavily at turn one.
In GT Daytona, a final flurry of place-swapping in the last 10 minutes saw Alessandro Balzan take victory by 2.2 seconds aboard the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488. The Italian shared the win with Christina Nielsen and Jeff Segal, overcoming the strong challenges posed by entries from BMW, Lamborghini and Porsche.
The Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan had led convincingly for much of the race but an unscheduled stop in the ninth hour saw the car slip off the radar. That brought a group of cars into the mix with the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari coming off best in the final hour. The #96 BMW M6 of Turner Motorsport finished second, with the #44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS taking the third step on the podium.