The Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring today. The Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R and Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R completed an all Cadillac sweep of the Sebring podium.
The win gives the Cadillac brand two wins in as many races backing up the season opening victory by the Konica Minolta Cadillac team at the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona.
Cadillac Racing Sebring Finishing Order:
1. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, Nasr, Derani, Curran
2. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, Taylor, Van Der Zande, Vaxiviere
3. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, Barbosa, Albuquerque, Hartley
7. 85 JDC/Miller Cadillac DPi-V.R, Goikhberg, Vautier, Piedrahita
8. 84 JDC/Miller Cadillac DPi-V.R, Miller, Trummer, Simpson
10. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, Owen, Canapino, Binder
The IMSA WeatherTech officials started the clock on the race with the field of 38 cars circulating under the caution flag behind the Pace Car due to rain. The green flag flew at 11:20 a.m. after 40 minutes of running under yellow. Just two laps under green, using the rain line, Filipe Albuquerque drove the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R to the lead. At 1 p.m. the first caution of the race flew with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R in the lead followed closely by the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac and No. 85 JDC/Miller Cadillac was in third as everyone was now on dry slick Michelin tires.
As the race unfolded over 12-hours, four Cadillac teams the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac and the No. 84 JDC/Miller Cadillac were all running in the top four. With two hours to go, it came down to the 31, 5 and 10 going for Sebring glory. With just 14 minutes remaining, the race’s final caution flew. The race was restarted with seven minutes to go. Felipe Nasr, in the 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, held off Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for the win, followed closely to the line by Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R to complete a podium sweep for Cadillac.
“Two races, two wins for Cadillac!” Rory Harvey, Cadillac vice president sales, service and marketing said. “To make it even better an all Cadillac sweep of the podium today at Sebring. The Whelen Engineering Cadillac team did a fantastic job today going from wet conditions to dry at Sebring to get the victory. Drivers Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran drove a great race supported by perfect strategy from the team. Cadillac V-Performance power and reliability helped us to dominate this legendary race. This win, like at the Rolex 24, is shared by our development team internally at Cadillac and our GM Propulsion engine team.”
Showing front running pace all day Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran were able to hold off the field after a late race yellow to take the Sebring win. The team was able to make up that one step on the podium lost at the Rolex 24 where they finished second here at Sebring. The victory sets a Sebring record for the closest margin of victory in the event’s history.
“Unbelievable job!” Derani said. “It was tricky at the beginning of the race, with the rain, but I managed to move my way from fifth into first and open a gap. But today was just one of those days, where everything clicked and nothing went wrong. Big thanks to my team, the Whelen Engineering Cadillac is an amazing car and I’m really happy to have won three times in four years. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the job the Action Express guys have done behind the scenes, and Felipe at the end and Eric keeping the car in front. What a day!”
“Today was a super challenging day and I am so proud of the job by the entire Action Express team,” Nasr said. “They gave us an amazing car to drive today, in all the different conditions from wet to dry to drizzling, and Tim Keene was superb with the calls. Pipo had an amazing start in the rain, that was a really tricky part of the race and he nailed it. He was able to put the car into the lead and just walk away with it, and Eric stabilized the lead and kept the car going forward. In the end, the job for me was to get to the finish line. Those last 20 minutes were super intense, trying to hold off the 10 car. They were pretty fast. I’m so happy we got the victory and nailed every hour for the endurance championship as well. A perfect day of racing!”
“The Sebring 12 hour is a huge deal for any sports car driver in the world to win, I feel like I’ve been trying to win this race for a long time,” Curran said. “The Whelen cars have finished second numerous times so to finally get the top step of the podium really checks off that box. Our Whelen Engineering Cadillac was unbelievably strong all race long. The preparation, the pit stops, everything the Whelen guys do make it easy for us. I got the easy part, the middle run of the day. Pipo did a great job in the rain, pulling out a big gap, I ran some of the middle stints and led as well, and the car felt great up front. Felipe got a lot of pressure in that last restart in the dark, with the 10 car and the 5 car right there, but he did what he does best. To pull off this win is so special, especially coming off Daytona where we almost got it, to win this one is a big deal. I’ve driven for Sonny Whelan for 10 plus years, winning two championships and a lot of big wins, but to win this race means a lot, for everything they’ve done for me for so many years. It’s so special to get them that exposure, leading so many laps, so this is for him.”
Jordan Taylor just couldn’t get up beside the 31 car in his No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R after the restart in the last seven minutes to take the win. Renger Van Der Zande and newcomer Matthieu Vaxiviere (VAX-i-VEE-AIR) showed their pace again as they ran a great race to come second and back-up their winning performance from the Rolex 24 in February.
“We had a third-place car all day, so to finish second was good,” Taylor said. “I think we over shot what we were capable of today. It was a good points day. We would have loved to win Sebring again, but I didn’t think it was worth a huge risk for the points to make a move there at the end. I am happy with second and we will go on to Long Beach. He [Nasr] was strong. I could have taken look in the Hairpin when he was being held up by the 54, but he was moving around a lot. Maybe I think big picture a little too much, but I think we leave here happy with second.”
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac drivers also spent time in the lead during the race. Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Brendon Hartley led laps and were in the mix for the win all day by coming home in third.
“I really enjoyed working with Felipe and Joao and all the guys with the Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac team,” Hartley said. “It was tricky in the beginning, to jump into a completely different car and it definitely took one or two stints because I don’t have much experience in this car. I lost a place to Jordan early when I got caught sleeping and was not sure how much was in the tires, which was a little bit of inexperience with this car, but all in all, I felt good. I didn’t expect to end with a quadruple stint and after yesterday’s race, I was completely drained at the end of tonight. We didn’t have the pace of the other car but both sides of the garage had a flawless race and we’re both on the podium, which is amazing.”
The No. 85 JDC/Miller Cadillac DPi-V.R showed a lot of competitive fight today, running the majority of the race in the top four. Tristan Vautier, Misha Goikhberg and Juan Piedrahita ended the 12-hours in seventh place.
“I think we had the pace for sure,” Piedrahita said. “This was my first 12-hour race. The JDC/Miller Cadillac was amazing. My first stint I felt really good and I was on the pace. Tristan did a great job as did Misha. We had some bad luck where we lost a few laps, but the potential is here and we showed some of that today at Sebring.”
The No. 84 JDC/Miller Cadillac spent time at the front of the DPi for a majority of day until an off-track excursion and some contact with a GT car cost them valuable track position. Stephen Simpson, Chris Miller and Simon Trummer were able to put together an eighth place run on the day.
“The team did a really great job in the pits and with the strategy,” Miller said. “I made a small mistake that cost us a bit of time. Then Stephen got hit late in the race by a GT car which cost us a little more. It was a little disappointing that we weren’t closer to the leaders, but we have some good data to take through the rest of the season.”
An early race alternator belt failure cost the No. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac team any chance at a top result today. Drivers Will Owen, Augustin Canapino and Rene Binder soldiered on to make maximum use of the track time to get the new to IMSA team more familiar with the Cadillac DPi-V.R and the on-track competition.
“Today’s race at Sebring was one of the hardest days I have faced,” Owen said. “It was tough for everybody. Tough for the team. Tough for the drivers. I must start by saying thank you to the Juncos Racing team for working so hard. We had a lot of issues to deal with but the team worked so hard to get through them. It just seemed like we couldn’t catch a break. Despite the problems our Cadillac DPi-V.R was fast and it was a lot of fun to drive. I learned more today than I ever have learned in any other race. It is very difficult to drive, especially at night. I feel like I made a huge step forward. We all know as a team what we need to do to get better, so we will work on everything we learned from Sebring and move onto Long Beach in a few weeks.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will travel to southern California for the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach to run April 12-13.
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Photo. Richard Prince