12 Hours of Sebring: Hours 1-3 Update – Front Runners Hit Drama


#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi, P: Eric Curran, Mike Conway, Felipe Nasr
Credit: Richard Dole / LAT Images

The 12 Hours of Sebring begun with contact between the front row drivers, while at the three hour stage, Eric Curran in the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing led the IMSA field, though their time at the front may still be limited as rivals are yet to show their hand.

In the GTLM category, the #62 Risi Competizione has fought its way back to the front after dropping to the back of the class in the opening lap. GTD meanwhile is currently led by Sheldon Van Der Linde in the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS.

There was drama at the start as polesitter Tristan Vautier lost out on the drag down to the first corner with Olivier Pla. The Tequila Patron ESM car attempted to squeeze Vautier on the inside, but slight contact saw him lose traction, half spinning into the gravel.

Vautier continued in the lead, but the #2 was forced to continue from the back, though later pulled into the garage to retire. They weren’t the only casualty though, with the #3 Chevrolet Corvette and the #51 Spirit of Race car picking up a left rear puncture.

Elsewhere, James Calado in the #62 Risi Competizione dropped to seventh in class on the opening lap, after starting from pole. This left a surprise BMW 1-2 in the GTLM category.

Only 20 minutes later we had our first FCY as the #52 Mathiasen Motorsport lost control through the long final corner, turning backwards and collecting the #64 Scuderia Corsa, flipping the Ferrari.

It was a slow speed roll over and Frankie Montecalvo was unharmed while Sebastian Saavedra dragged his damaged Prototype to the pits. As a result, the #90 Cadillac lost its lead to the #7 Acura.

During the pitstop stage, it was Felipe Nasr who came out on top. Having started behind the front three, Nasr benefited from the first lap incidents and having kept up with the Acura in the early stages, sailed past after the second stop.

Pitlane drama continued to be the story of the race, with the #66 and #67 Ford GT’s hitting each other in pits as they left their boxes at the same time. An hour later, the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing fed back onto the track alongside an Audi GTD. Jordan Taylor made contact, though held the machine from spinning, with no action taken.

Nasr used the free air to extend his lead, though as his tyres started to wear, Graham Rahal in the #7 found his rhythm, closing the gap as they approached the end of the second hour.

It would be neither team that led the way at the end of Hour 3. With the Acura dropping to fourth after its pitstop, the Cadillac’s assumed a one-two, with Curran leading Taylor in the #31.