Konica Minolta/Wayne Taylor Racing dominated the closing hours of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring to make it two wins out of two IMSA SportsCar Championship races in 2017.
Leading after 8 hours, the Cadillac DPi crew of Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, and Alex Lynn continued to pull out a remarkable lead from the Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac as darkness descended on the Florida circuit and continued to pull off a pit strategy that saw them remain untouchable out front.
After the Rolex 24 at Daytona, won under somewhat controversial circumstances after the Wayne Taylor car nudged the Mustang Sampling car out the way with only a handful of laps remaining, this time round there was no contact needed.
“I really wanted this race win to be conventional,” said Ricky Taylor. “This was a dominant win, so nobody can question it.”
Third place went to the Action Express Racing Cadillac of Mike Conway, Dane Cameron, and Eric Curran – highlighting the dominance of the Cadillac machines in the lead prototype class.
Fourth place went to a team in contention for a podium for long stretches of the race, the ORECA 07 of JDC-Miller Motorsports, which faded slightly towards the end and would finish four laps behind the leader.
Having a very mixed weekend was the Mazda DPi team, the #55 had a good run to finish fifth overall, but the sister #70 wouldn’t recover from early race issues for Joel Miller and would finish eighth in class.
Having even worse luck was the polesitting Rebellion Racing machine, various mechanical faults throughout the race spoilt their Sebring and saw them languishing down in ninth in class – 41st overall.
Prototype Challenge didn’t see much competition, but in a four car class that isn’t such a surprise. However, the #38 Performance Tech car of James French, Patricio O’Ward and Kyle Masson had a great race to finish two laps ahead of the second-place Starworks Motorsports car.
GTLM saw Corvette Racing take their third 12 Hours of Sebring victory in a row as the #3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller had a lightning final pitstop to jump out ahead of the all-conquering Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs. Garcia did one of the stints of his life to ensure the bright yellow machine crossed the finish line with a 4.43 second gap over Joey Hand in the #66 Ford GT.
In taking victory over the #66, the Corvette team had done something that hadn’t been done in a major endurance race for the last year – they denied Hand, Sebastien Bourdais and Dirk Mueller GT victory after the trio dominated at Le Mans and were the pick of the field at Daytona.
Third place, and making it three different manufacturers on the podium, was the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado, Toni Villander, and Giancarlo Fisichella, themselves having to fend off the advance of two Ford GTs for their spot on the podium as the #67 and #68 GTs finished fourth and fifth respectively.
In the GT3-specced GT Daytona class, it was a first IMSA win for Mercedes AMG as Riley Motorsports, with Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Mario Farnbacher at the wheel, took a one-lap victory over the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.
Victory at Sebring, Mercedes first in 60 years, was redemption for team principal Keating after a 2015 race which saw them struck with engine failure four minutes from the end in addition to a 2014 which saw the team’s Dodge Viper set on fire early in the running.
Their victory denied the Scuderia Corsa crew a second consecutive victory at the Florida airfield circuit as Alessandro Balzan, Christina Nielsen and Matteo Cressoni couldn’t quite match the pace of the Mercedes.
Speaking of Mercedes, third place went to the SunEnergy1 Racing machine of Kenny Habul, Boris Said and Tristan Vautier who rallied from a poor first half of the race to take a podium on their IMSA debut.
They did have some good luck in that podium though as it was looking likely that the Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan was going to take third spot, but the car ran out of fuel on the very last lap of the race and eventually crawled across the line 11th in class.
Top 3 in class after 12 Hours
10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta – Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Alex Lynn
5 Mustang Sampling Racing – Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi
31 Action Express Racing – Dane Cameron, Eric Curran, Mike Conway
38 Performance Tech Motorsports – James French, Patricio O’Ward, Kyle Masson
8 Starworks Motorsports – Maxwell Hanratty, James Dayson, Sean Rayhall, Garett Grist
26 BAR1 Motorsports – Chapman Ducote, Gustavo Yacaman, Colin Thompson, Marc Drumwright
4 Corvette Racing Racing – Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Mike Rockenfeller
66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing – Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais
62 Risi Competizione – James Calado, Toni Villander, Giancarlo Fisichella
33 Riley Motorsports – Ben Keating, Jeroem Bleekemolen, Mario Farnbacher
63 Scuderia Corsa – Alessandro Balzan, Christina Nielsen, Matteo Cressoni
75 SunEnergy1 Racing – Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier, Boris Said