GTD Champions Sebrings 12 hours
Daytona 2019, a race to forget. Sebring 2019, a race where everything was going all too well, where from the onset, we were in contention for victory and we seemingly could do no wrong. With a few hours to go an ABS system failure unfortunately derailed our opportunity at a strong finish.
Fast forward 2 years, Daytona 2021, a race to forget. Sebring 2021, a few hours to go and it seems as though we have not missed a beat the whole race. The crew has been on fire with pitstops, the 3 team drivers have not put a single wheel wrong. It all seemed a little bit too familiar. Something was bound to go wrong... it just had to. Nobody gets through 12 hours at Sebring without so much as one minor mistake...
The weekend started off with a plan. Our engineer Andrew Marangoni had set out a list of changes from the beginning that he wanted to try. We knew we would potentially struggle at the onset of the weekend, but the plan was to figure it out by practice 3, figure it out we did. FP1 we placed in 8th, FP2 we were in 10th, but come FP3, the only official night practice, we were top of the time charts.
This was very encouraging as we set out to get the car working at night. One interesting thing about this race compared to Daytona, is that the end of the race is at night. Making the speed of the car in the darkness more important than in daylight. In comparison to Daytona where it is all about “surviving the night”.
Taking this momentum into qualifying, we were quietly upbeat about our chances. Although we had yet to do a real qualifying run, as we sacrificed that to focus on long-run pace, we knew we still had a decent chance at a good starting position. Unfortunately, luck was not on our side as we had an ABS failure on our out lap which halted us from putting a relevant lap time in while I was qualifying.
This meant having to start the race from last position. Sometimes, a near impossible task to overcome, but in a 12 hour race? We knew it was still all to play for. From that point on, I really can’t stress how amazing the entire team was. In my first stint we moved up from 12th to 7th, and this march forward continued on until about 4 hours in, where by then we had a steady hold on either 1st or 2nd depending on pitstop cycles.
A race that started off from last place, was now our race to lose. Now back to the beginning of the story, this felt all too familiar. Leading Sebring, without mistakes, a couple of months after a terrible Daytona. Something must go wrong, it always does! I hate being wrong, but on that day, I loved being wrong.
We stayed out front for the last 4 hours of the race, and only momentarily lost the lead through pit stop cycles. We were in the driver’s seat and not willing to give it up. With the time counting down, Laurens was in the car to take the finish.
My blood pressure was likely through the roof as I was just waiting for something to happen… it always does… yet it didn’t, and we won the 12 hours of Sebring.
It’s difficult to put into words what it feels like to win one of the biggest sports car races in the world. And to be honest, I still haven’t really been able to do so. All I can think of is, when’s the next race?