SEBRING, Fla. — Motul Pole Award winner Pipo Derani and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac V-Series.R re-established themselves as the race leader of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as the grueling IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race moved into its dramatic final hours Saturday with darkness approaching.
Derani led early in the historic 12-hour race until contact with a spinning competitor knocked the No. 31 back in the order. But a lightning-quick pit stop under a full-course caution with just under five hours to go vaulted the Brazilian back to the overall and Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class lead and he was still up front with four hours to go.
The other Cadillac GTP entry, the No. 01 from Chip Ganassi Racing, led much of the first half of the race until a difficult stint with driver Renger van der Zande at the wheel saw the car dip from second place to seventh. Following another pit stop, co-driver Sebastien Bourdais moved the No. 01 back into third place at the eight-hour mark.
Van der Zande said he faced issues putting power down exiting the corners.
“I’m not sure why,” he said, remaining confident the tide will turn back after the sun sets. “I think we’re good on deg (tire degradation over a stint). Tonight’s going to be cooler so deg’s going to be less of an issue. At the same time fuel is good. I’m not sure who’s going to finish (driving the car) yet, but I’ll be ready.”
Seven of the eight entries in the hybrid-powered GTP class remained on the lead lap at the eight-hour juncture.
An incident between cars battling for the lead in the GT Daytona (GTD) class brought out the eighth full-course caution of the race just prior to the eight-hour mark. Zacharie Robichon in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) and Philip Ellis in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 made side-to-side contact heading into Turn 1. R
obichon went off course but was able to continue. Ellis came to a stop on track with a damaged right-front wheel, necessitating the yellow flag.
Each of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes racing at Sebring boasted tight battles up front as well.
Under caution with four hours remaining, other class leaders were:
Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Scott McLaughlin in the No. 8 Tower Motorsports LMP2 07
Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), Felipe Fraga in the No. 74 Riley Ligier JS P320
GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO), Tommy Milner and the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette
GT Daytona (GTD), Roberto Lacorte in the No. 47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari 296 GT3
IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Update
The Twelve Hours of Sebring is the second of four long-distance races that also make up the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
With points earned after eight hours of Sebring racing, the Michelin Endurance Cup season leaders are: the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 in GTP, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA in LMP2, the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier in LMP3, the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in GTD PRO and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in GTD.