IMSA Wire: Action Express Cadillacs 1-2 After Four Hours in Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts

For Immediate Release
Action Express Cadillacs 1-2 After Four Hours
In Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts

March 16, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

SEBRING, Fla. – Most of the first third of the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts was all about the pair of Action Express Racing Cadillac DPis, which occupied the first two positions at the four-hour mark.

Felipe Nasr led the way in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering machine by 53.503 seconds over Brendon Hartley in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. Nasr and the No. 31 team are the defending champions of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

By leading at the four-hour mark, the No. 31 team moved to within two points of the Michelin Endurance Cup DPi class points lead behind the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi squad. The No. 10 – which won January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona – battled early brake cooling issues and also incurred a drive-through penalty in the first four hours, but Matthieu Vaxiviere had the car on the lead lap in fifth place. Olivier Pla was third in DPi at four hours in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P DPi machine.

While the race started as scheduled shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET, steady rains and excessively wet track conditions kept the field behind the Corvette safety car for the first 40 minutes before conditions improved enough for green flag running.

In the LMP2 class, Cameron Cassels held a substantial, 22-lap lead in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA over the No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA. Anders Fjorback was driving the No. 52 at four hours, but the car spent considerable time behind the wall for repairs due to a mechanical problem.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais ran 1-2 in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. Driving the No. 67 Ford GT, Briscoe was 13.619 seconds ahead of Bourdais in the No. 66 entry. Both of the Ganassi cars now have 13 points toward the Michelin Endurance Cup, pulling them to within two of the effective GTLM class leader, the No. 912 Porsche GT Team entry shared by Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet.

The No. 912 was running seventh at the four-hour mark, two laps behind the leader and actually is one point out of the Michelin Endurance Cup lead, 16-15, behind the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari team that is not competing at Sebring.

In the GT Daytona (GTD) class, the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG trio of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga extended their lead in the Michelin Endurance Cup standings as Bleekemolen led the race at four hours.

Bleekemolen was 8.296 seconds ahead of the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven at the time by Mirko Bortolotti. The No. 33 team leads the Michelin Endurance Cup standings by three points, 19-16.

Live television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts continues on NBCSN through 11 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also has complete live coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 216/XM 201/Internet 972).

Notes:
– Wet conditions persisted for the first two hours of the race before Derani switched to dry-weather tires. Despite the difficult conditions, there was only one full-course caution period after the initial 40-minute safety car period. That caution was caused by the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P, which stopped on course with a small fire two hours and 20 minutes into the race. Timo Berhhard was at the wheel at the time of the incident.

– Tristan Nunez took the lead in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P DPi going into Turn 1, getting around polesitter Dane Cameron in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi.

– Motul Pole Award winner Cameron and the No. 6 Acura team got off to a rocky start. Cameron encountered electrical issues around the one-hour mark in the race, bringing the car onto pit lane for an unscheduled stop. Adding insult to injury was a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit lane. Another issue just before the four-hour mark dropped the team three laps behind the leader.

– The No. 7 Acura DPi shared by Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi also was one lap down at four hours. Taylor had a spin, during which his belts came loose inside the car, forcing him to make an unscheduled stop.

– The No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R lost 11 laps for repairs to the alternator belt and jack shaft in the first four hours.

– The top eight cars in the GTD class were on the lead lap at four hours. The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R shared by Zacharie Robichon, Scott Hargrove and Lars Kern, and the Motul Pole Award-winning No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 shared by Trent Hindman, Justin Marks and Mario Farnbacher were particularly strong throughout the first third of the race. The No. 9 was running fifth at four hours while the No. 86 was seventh.

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