Ally Cadillac drivers Kamui Kobayashi (Japan), Mike Rockenfeller (Germany), and José María López (Argentina) finished sixth the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway.
Heading into Saturday’s race, Rockenfeller was the only Ally Racing driver to turn laps in the No. 48 Cadillac during the four practice sessions and DPi qualifying. Rockenfeller qualified fifth, with a time of 1:45.576 around the 3.74-mile, 17-turn road course. Co-drivers Kobayashi and López could not be in the car prior to Saturday due to their commitment to the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hypercar team that competed in Friday’s World Endurance Championship 1,000 Miles of Sebring race. However, both drivers did turn a few laps in Saturday’s 20-minute warm-up.
Rockenfeller got off to a good start and had the car up to third before he handed the car over to López. López had to be medically cleared prior to Saturday’s 12-hour classic after he hit the tire wall in Friday’s WEC race. He was leading that race at the time of his accident. However, despite his accident and despite getting limited seat time in the No. 48 Cadillac before the race, it did not take López long to get up to speed. In fact, he led the race before he gave the No. 48 machine to Kobayashi.
During the middle of the race, Kobayashi, Rockenfeller, and López all put in double stints, while keeping the car in the top three. With a little more than two hours to go, Rockenfeller had to bring the No. 48 Cadillac to pit lane to change the front brakes under green. As a result, the car went five laps down when López returned the car to the track. This issue essentially took the No. 48 car out of contention and the team finished sixth.
“We knew we had an issue earlier in the day because we could see a lot of smoke coming out of our brakes,” Rockenfeller said. “When I was in the car, I was thinking about it. I hit the brakes in Turn Seven and I sensed something wrong with the front left rotor. I was happy not to lose the car even though I went off. The race was over. It’s a shame because I think we had a chance, with a clean race, to fight for a podium or a victory.”
“It was a long hot day,” Kobayashi said. “We had a competitive Ally Cadillac throughout the race and then Mike had the brake issue. It put us down a few laps, but the team performed well, and we were competitive. It was tough to just jump in the car this morning and then run the race. But we showed good pace and teamwork, but it just wasn’t our day. Congratulations to the 31 guys on their podium.”
“It was very hot today,” Lopez said. “Every time I was in the car, I was able to find speed, be quick in the car and have that feeling that we had the pace to fight at the end. Unfortunately, we had a brake issue. That’s endurance racing. It can be tough sometimes. Everyone has done a helluva job. It was unfortunate.”
Kobayashi, Rockefeller, López are sixth in the DPi Driver’s Points Standings with 566 points. The No. 48 Ally Cadillac is competing in the four Endurance Cup races this season (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Petit Le Mans). That said, co-driver Jimmie Johnson is expected to rejoin the team for the Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen at Watkins Glen International in June.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates/Photo. Brian Cleary
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