Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Alessandro Balzan (Italy), and Jeff Westphal (San Mateo, Calif.) finished fourth today in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Advance Auto Parts season finale.
Under near perfect racing conditions for the full 12-hours the trio of MacNeil, Balzan, and Westphal ran a near fault free race to close the season with a fourth place. The Scuderia Corsa prepared No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari Evo was a fixture at the front of the field all race. As the drivers soldiered through late stint handling issues, knowing that when the sun went down the red-white-and-blue Ferrari would come back to them.
All race the Scuderia Corsa managed crew performed strong pit stops. With two hours remaining, Balzan had the wheel and muscled his way into the lead past the No. 86 Acura. In the final 120-minutes the top six cars in GTD were all on the same lap.
With 20-minutes remaining a caution flag flew. The yellow flag erased the 11-second lead Westphal had to the Mercedes in second. On the restart the pair went through Turn 1 side-by-side and had contact in Turn 2 with a GTLM BMW sending Westphal off the track. He was able to recover and finish fourth. A disappointing end to what was a good day.
“We had some challenges, and the car was a little tough on the front tires halfway through the stint at the beginning,” Westphal said. “But as it got cooler, the car came to us, which we know about the Ferrari. Frankly, we had an absolute rocket. I loved it. The WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo had so much grip as it got cold, and it was really rolling well, up until that caution for debris. Unfortunately, at the restart, a car that had run into the back of me twice earlier in the race hit the GTLM car next to me and shoved him off the road and took me with him. I kept it straight and got back on the track, but we had more damage to the front left. We just struggled from that point.”
MacNeil opened the race with a strong double stint.
“Well a tough ending to what was a pretty good day in the WeatherTech Ferrari,” MacNeil said. “I had a good double stint to open the race. I led some laps and kept the car upfront. We were battling a little handling issue in the heat of the day and then it really came back to us later. We led a lot of laps and it looked really good until that last restart. Jeff had an 11-second lead erased by that yellow. On the restart the BMW GTLM got in the mix and then the Mercedes sent him spinning into Jeff and that was that. I guess that’s racing.”
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing