Acura high hopes dashed in wet Sebring 12 Hour start

Image by LePage/LAT

Acura high hopes dashed in wet Sebring 12 Hour start


Acura high hopes dashed in wet Sebring 12 Hour start


After Dane Cameron scored the Motul Pole Award in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi and Helio Castroneves put the No. 7 Acura third on the starting grid in Friday qualifying, the two-car squad had high hopes for a strong run in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

But the wet conditions early on proved diabolical for both cars. Cameron slipped back as soon as the green flag was displayed, and the No. 6 trio of Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud would battle electrical issues throughout the race, leaving them ninth at the end.

The No. 7 of Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi, meanwhile, had their own hands full, starting with a Taylor spin in Turn 17 and subsequent unscheduled pit stop.

The No. 7 Acura ended up losing two laps early on, but gamely stayed in the battle and, with some forceful driving, found their way back to the lead lap.

First and third on the grid, Acura Team Penske had high hopes for the 12 Hour. Image by LePage/LAT

In the end, the No. 7 came home fourth on a day that could have been much worse. That performance coupled with their third-place showing in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona has Taylor and Castroneves just nine points out of the two-way tie for first in the DPi point standings (which is between the Daytona-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team and and its co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande, and the Sebring-winning No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi of Filipe Nasr and Pipo Derani).

Rossi was sensational making up time and ground in the closing laps. Image by LePage/LAT

“We really got behind the eight-ball right from the beginning in the wet,” said Rossi. “The entire Acura Team Penske organization rallied after that to make up a two-lap deficit without any yellow flags to help us out as much as we would have liked. To bring the No. 7 Acura home in fourth, kind of a ‘best of the rest’ situation, is a positive, but we come here wanting to win.”

Salvaging a fourth-place result on a day like that, though, may go a long way in the DPi championship battle later on.