Their team-mates Philipp Eng (AUT), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Marco Wittmann (GER) were also fighting for a top result in their #24 car. However, the trio had to retire due to a technical issue.
The #25 BMW M Hybrid V8 consistently worked its way up after starting from eighth on the grid. In the second half of the race, De Phillippi, Yelloly and van der Linde established themselves at the front end of the field. With one and a half hours to go, an unscheduled brake change dropped the car out of the lead lap. Yelloly successfully fought his way back up afterwards, taking the chequered flag in second following a chaotic final minutes of the race.
The #24 car was running within the top group of the GTP field for the opening hours. Shortly after the halfway point, the BMW M Hybrid V8 had to be brought to the garage due to a technical issue and was retired.
In the GTD class, BMW M Motorsport team Paul Miller Racing claimed its first win of the season with the #1 BMW M4 GT3. Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis (all USA) emerged victorious after a strong race performance. Only 1.532 seconds behind the winners, Robby Foley (USA) brought the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 home in second. He had shared the car with Patrick Gallagher and Michael Dinan (all USA). The #95 Turner Motorsport sister car, driven by Chandler Hull, Bill Auberlen and John Edwards (all USA), finished seventh in the GTD PRO class.
Quotes after the race at Sebring:
Franciscus van Meel (CEO of BMW M GmbH): “Big congrats on this fantastic podium. I am very proud of all the work being done by everyone involved in this still very young project. After the debut of our BMW M Hybrid V8 cars at Daytona in January, there was no time to rest and we can see the progress that has been made here at Sebring. This podium was only the next step and I am confident that we will continue our way towards the top with our brand-new BMW M prototype. I want to thank everyone at BMW M Motorsport and BMW M Team RLL for their great efforts and fantastic work, as well as our BMW M works drivers who once more convinced with a flawless and strong performance. Our BMW M Motorsport teams in the GTD classes also had an outstanding race with the one-two for the BMW M4 GT3s of Paul Miller Racing and Turner Motorsport. Now we are looking forward to the next round at Long Beach in mid-April. I also want to congratulate Turner Motorsport on their great one-two finish with the brand-new BMW M4 GT4 in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge on Thursday. That proved that our latest customer racing car has all the ingredients for success.”
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “It’s fantastic that we were able to score our maiden podium with the new BMW M Hybrid V8 in only its second race. In combination with the one-two finish of our BMW M4 GT3 teams in the GTD class, this was an almost perfect outcome of a 12-hour race that ended in chaotic fashion. We appeared clearly stronger with our two BMW M Hybrid V8 cars than at the Daytona season opener. Thanks to the hard work in Munich and at BMW M Team RLL in Indianapolis, we are gradually getting closer to the performance level that we want to achieve. Therefore, this second place scored by our #25 car is a great motivation for us to continue in the same fashion in the coming weeks and months. Congratulations to the winning Cadillac team. The retirement of our second car was unfortunate. There was a problem with the cooling system. In the GTD class, our customer teams Paul Miller Racing and Turner Motorsport were able to celebrate an amazing one-two finish – thanks to great strategies and flawless performances from their drivers. On Thursday, Turner Motorsport had claimed the maiden win in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for the new BMW M4 GT4, also securing a one-two. Congrats to Will Turner and his squad. Now we are fired up for the upcoming races of the 2023 IMSA season.”
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW M Team RLL): “Sebring can be a crazy race – and we saw that tonight. I am really proud of the team, the steps we have made since Daytona have been obvious. I am also really proud of our relationship with BMW M Motorsport. Everyone is working really hard together. All day long we were competitive. We’ve had some up and downs, like the others, but in the end we prevailed. I am just really, really pleased.”
Connor De Phillippi (#25 BMW M Hybrid V8, 2nd place GTP class): “I am so happy about our first podium with this programme. The guys and girls have worked so hard for this. We deserve it. We were there at the end, just as we said. That’s what this race is all about. In the past, we lost this race from the lead from a crash – this time luck was on our side. I am just super happy for everyone. P2 is something we can build on and start fighting forward for the rest of the season.”
Nick Yelloly (#25 BMW M Hybrid V8, 2nd place GTP class): “It’s a really nice feeling. For BMW M Team RLL and BMW M Motorsport to take this step is huge, i am obviously just very, very happy for everyone here and back in Munich. It has been many hard months of work and to reward them with some silverware is very nice. We’ve made a good step forward as well. With the general performance we are not quite there yet, but we have shown that we can make a good step. For Long Beach we will hopefully make another one.”
Sheldon van der Linde (#25 BMW M Hybrid V8, 2nd place GTP class): “This podium was very unexpected. We were disappointed when the brake issue occurred with one and a half hours to go but then everything turned around. I am super excited to be on the podium. The guys really deserved it after so much work during the off-season to make this programme a success. I can’t thank everyone enough. The car has made some really good steps forward.”
Augusto Farfus (#24 BMW M Hybrid V8, DNF, GTP class): “Of course it is very disappointing to end the race after six hours but we have to take the positives. We have shown here that hard work is paying off. BMW M Team RLL and BMW M Motorsport together have managed to improve the car a lot after Daytona. And we were on the hunt. Maybe we would not have won the race, but we were running at the front for a certain time. That shows that we have considerably closed the gap. There’s still work to do, we still need to improve but I think, even if we did not finish the race, the positives are greater than the negatives. Most of all because of the great second-place finish of our sister car.”
Madison Snow (#1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3, 1st place GTD class): “It’s great to get another win here at Sebring. Bryan, Corey and I have won here together before – and it’s fantastic to do it again. The car went 12 hours without any issue and the yellow at the end was great because we did not have to push. In the last three minutes of the race it was just go, go, go!”
Michael Dinan (#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, 2nd place GTD class): “It definitely was not what we were expecting but I think that’s what so great about IMSA racing. Anything can happen. With three hours to go, I don’t think anyone thought we were in contention of a podium finish but the team did a fantastic job with race strategy which kept us on the lead lap. We had issues, but Robby and Patrick both had a fantastic drive. Robby was amazing when he passed for second. The fuel saving, the team strategy, it all led to this result. It definitely feels really good to get onto the podium here!”
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