Porsche GT Team goes out in style with Sebring 1-2

Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Porsche GT Team goes out in style with Sebring 1-2

IMSA

Porsche GT Team goes out in style with Sebring 1-2

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Running its final race, the Porsche GT Team scored a one-two finish in GTLM in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki and Earl Bamber won in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19, 9.025s ahead of teammates Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Neel Jani.

“To win in our last race, and to do it with a 1-2 as well…” said Tandy, claiming victory at Sebring for the third consecutive year. “It’s been an
emotional weekend — our last time together as a group. I hoped that we could win, and the three-peat was always on; but to do a 1-2 was great for the whole team. Everyone has put seven years of their lives into this program. It’s a perfect finish — to win the last three of the season, and to win three Sebrings in a row.”

The final restart ended a solid run for the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE of Connor De Phillippi, Colton Herta and Bruno Spengler. De Phillippi was hit from behind on the final restart, sending him into the GTD-leading Ferrari. He came back to finish fourth behind the team’s No. 24 BMW of Jesse Krohn, John Edwards and Augusto Farfus, after the No. 25 was in the fight for the lead for most of the race.

The No. 3 Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg was also a GTLM contender up until a rear suspension failure with 2h30m remaining and finished fifth. The No. 4 Corvette — in the final ride as a Corvette regular after 18 years for Oliver Gavin — took sixth after struggling through mechanical problems.

GTD winners Hardwick, Long and Heylen. Image by Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Patrick Long, Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen scored the GTD victory in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports 1st phorm Porsche 911 GT3 R, beating the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Roman De Angelis, Ian James and Darren Turner by 3.27s. The winning Porsche struggled with a broken shock for the final nine hours of the race.

“It was difficult to fight, because we didn’t know where the car was going to land,” Long admitted. “The car was very difficult with all the left-rights, and I have a migraine from banging my head on the roll bar. But these cars are built solid, and it held up despite the challenge. All’s well that ends well.”

Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry claimed the GTD title by two points over Long and Hardwick with a third-place finish in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3.

Scuderia Corsa Ferrari seemed headed to the GTD victory until the closing minutes. Cooper MacNeil, Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal all took turns in the lead – pacing 107 laps – with Westphal holding an 11-second lead when the final caution waved.

That allowed Lawson Aschenbach to close in with the No. 74 Riley Motorsports/74 Hunting Ranch AMG-Mercedes GT3. On the restart with 17:30 remaining, Aschenbach bumped the GTLM-leading BMW of De Phillippi, who in turn hit the Ferrari.

The GTD race took a dramatic turn at the 2h40m mark. First, the class-leading No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Franck Perera, Richard Heistand and Steijn Schothorst broke an axle while leaving pit road. The promoted the two AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus GT F GT3s to the led, but both the leading No. 12 of Townsend Bell and second-place No. 14 of Kyle Kirkwood spun in water left by the No. 4 Corvette of Gavin and then hit the wall.

Two other GTD cars were involved in the incident, but were able to continue.

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