WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah), and Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand) had their day end about half way through the 65th annual IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway.
On lap 118, MacNeil was behind the wheel of the No. 50 WeatherTeach Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 when something broke on the car’s left front heading into Turn One. This forced the car to make a sudden jump to the left. The left front wheel assembly was severely damaged making the Mercedes difficult to drive. Unfortunately, MacNeil had just passed pit lane when the car broke and he had to limp the car around the entire 3.5-mile, 17-turn track to pit lane.
Once on pit lane, the Riley Motorsports crew immediately went to work repairing the damage, while Jeannette sat in the car patiently waiting to return to the track. Nearly an hour later, the repairs were complete and Jeanette returned to the track 27 laps down to the GTD race lead. From there, he turned a handful of laps before the team decided to call it a day.
“When I got in, I could tell right away something was wrong,” MacNeil said when he got in for his second stint. “Then, the part that created the issues I felt, let go and I didn’t have any steering. I had to limp around the whole track without any control of the race car. The race was still under green flag conditions. So, I was getting passed at 120 to 150 mph. That was pretty scary. But, I finally made it back around. We spent a lot of time in the pits fixing the car. Subsequently, we went down 27 laps. We come to the race track to win. At that point, there was no point in continuing to run.”
“Cooper went out and immediately felt something wrong,” van Gisbergen said. “We thought it might have been tire pressures. But, it turned out it was something more. It’s a shame. Two bad races, two DNFs. But, we had a strong car and three strong drivers. We’ll try again next time.”
Despite ending their day early, WeatherTech Racing did see some success early in the race as they had the No. 50 Mercedes in the top three.
“From the start, we had an ABS issue I had to deal with during my first stint,” MacNeil said. “Luckily, we fixed that and got back out there. We got into the top three and were running really strong. Shane and Gunnar put in a couple of good stints. We were flying.”
“It’s highly disappointing because we were doing what we needed to do,” Jeannette said. “The guys did a good job. We had an issue early on with a rear wheel speed sensor. The crew fixed it and we clawed back up into the top three. It was a lot of fun.”
“From my end, the car was decent,” van Gisbergen said. “The car had no problems. I was able to push the whole way and we got up to second. But, what a shame [the way the day ended]. What could have been?”
The IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship next heads west to the streets of Long Beach for the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach April 7-8.
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing