Jonathan Bomarito is in control eight hours into the 79th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, despite constant pressure from the Wayne Taylor Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing DPis.
Bomarito took the lead on a pit-stop exchange under caution at 6h50m in the No. 55 Multimatic Mazda RT24P, and has held it despite steady pressure.
— IMSA (@IMSA) March 20, 2021
Filipe Albuquerque is up to second, just over 1s behind in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-24, followed by Kevin Magnussen, driving the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. Magnussen took over for Renger van der Zande, who ran a determined second throughout his stint, followed by Taylor in his father’s Acura.
Also in contention at the race’s two-thirds mark were Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura.
A major development occurred at the 8h11m mark when two top contenders got together in the Horseshoe. Filipe Albuquerque was running second in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac, pressuring leader Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda. Jack Hawksworth was at the left in the No, 14 Lexus – running third in GTD – when he turned to the right and pinched off Albuquerque. Magnussen went to the grass to take over second in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, as Hawksworth rolled to to a stop, necessitating the fifth full-course caution of the race.
Albuquerque managed to continue, remaining on the lead lap after replacing the front bodywork in the pits.
Mikkel Jensen leads LMP2 by a lap in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP3 07-Gibson (photo above).
“No drama,” said Scott Huffaker, one of the No. 52 car’s co-drivers. “We had a drive-through penalty early, but ever since then we’ve kept our nose clean. It’s been trying to run fast laps. We seem to be running really good right now with Mikkel (Jensen) in the car.”
Second in LMP2 was the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 co-driven by Ryan Dalziel, Kyle Tilley and Dwight Merriman.
Bruno Spengler leads GTLM in the No. 25 BMW, closely follow by Matt Campbell’s No. 79 WeatherTech Porsche.
A miscommunication between driver and crew cost the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R the lead. During the lone yellow of the middle four hours, driver Nicky Catsburg wasn’t clear whether to stop from the lead when the pits were opened for GT cars, so he stayed out while the other GTLM cars headed to pit lane.
Forced to make his stop on the succeeding lap, Catsburg dropped to fourth in class and had to make up a deficit of nearly 30 seconds when the green flag waved for the restart. Prior to the gaffe, the No. 3 had led the vast majority of the race.
In GTD, Laurens Vanthoor was out front in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, followed by Madison Snow in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini.
The PMR team is hoping for a deja vu performance in this year’s race. In 2018, the team followed up a third-place Rolex 24 finish with a Sebring 12 Hour victory in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 c0-driven by Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis. All three are back this year and pushing to win at Sebring after placing third at Daytona.
After dominating the class in the first few hours, the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 lost three laps when forced to make a brake change during a full-course caution. Drivers Aaron Telitz, Kyle Kirkwood and Hawksworth found renewed pace, however, and moved into third place with four hours remaining – until the incident in the Horshoe.
Riley Motorsports is now running 1-2 in LMP3, with Scott Andrews leading in the Daytona 24 Hour-winning No. 74, followed by Dylan Murry in the No. 91.
The No. 7 Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine is third, ironically with Oliver Askew as one of its drivers. Askew teamed with No. 74 Riley co-drivers Gar Robinson, Spencer Pigot and Andrews to win at Daytona.
In DPi at the front of the field, Felipe Nasr had a big moment at 7h33m when the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac snapped to the right in Turn 1 – squarely into the path of Tristan Vautier in the No. 31 JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac, which was exiting the pits on cold tires.
— IMSA (@IMSA) March 20, 2021
Both cars spun through the grass and were able to continue after repairs. Seeing the cloud of dust, the top five DPis were called to the pits in anticipation of a caution (which did not come). Nasr served a penalty for incident responsibility.
Earlier, Pipo Derani had an eye opener when Jim McGuire spun in the No. 22 ORECA in Turn 14 and re-entered directly in front of the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac. McGuire was penalized for unsafe re-entry.
Another big moment occurred in Turn 14 when then-third-place Dane Camaro (No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura) got loose after passing a lapped Prototype, and touched the fourth-place No. 55 Mazda. Both DPis spun but eventually continued. Cameron served a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility.
Two-hours, 45-minutes of green flag running came to an end at the 6h34m mark when Matthew Bell had a head-on impact with the barrier in Turn 13. He was running sixth in LMP3 in the No. 83 Winn Autosport Duqueine.
Performance Tech Motorsports retired the LMP3 pole-winning No. 38 Ligier shortly after six and a half hours with damage to the left-rear bodywork. Reportedly, the car picked up a dead squirrel in the incident.