Ally Cadillac drivers Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, Calif.), Simon Pagenaud (France) and Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) crossed the finish line third at the end of the 69th IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, but the team was classified as finishing seventh due to a drive time infraction for Pagenaud.
“We cut it a little too close with our drive times today,” Gary Nelson, team director, Action Express said. “We were less than 60 seconds over the drive time for Simon. It is disappointing. It’s a team error. Jimmie, Kamui, and Simon drove their hearts out today. Win as a team, lose as a team. We will look forward to Watkins Glen.”
Johnson started today’s race seventh on the DPi grid in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R. Just 15 minutes into the race, Johnson was coming out of Turn 17 when he and the No. 23 Aston Martin made contact. Johnson spun and the car sustained front end damage. Fortuitously for the team, the incident happened just before pit in. This allowed Johnson to quickly bring the car to pit lane for repairs. This contact brought out the race’s first full course caution. The team made the repairs under yellow, without losing a lap.
“It was so intense out there all week,” Johnson said. “I can’t put into perspective what I experienced the last two days. I made plenty of mistakes that I need to clean up. I felt like I was in a position to really get aggressive and I just over stepped a little. A lot of lessons learned and a good run for this Ally Cadillac team. The team really responded well after my spin and got us back into contention. Simon and Kamui put in great last stints. The drive time penalty negated all of the effort today, but we are a team. We will learn and come back even stronger for Watkins Glen in June.”
After that incident, the car and all three drivers ran virtually error-free throughout the entire race. In fact, the car stayed consistently in the top-five and even led the race at various points. Heading into the final hours of the race, the team knew it could not compete for the win or a spot on the podium due to the drive time infraction. However, that issue did not deter the team from competing to the end.
During the race’s final two laps, Kobayashi was third in class and was putting a lot of pressure on the No. 55 Mazda for position. Kobayashi attempted several passes on the No. 55 for second – trying to gain any positions he could before the checkered flag fell. Unfortunately, Kobayashi couldn’t quite make one of those passes stick and crossed the finish line third.
Up next for the Ally Cadillac team is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen to run at Watkins Glen International June 24-27.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates