Sebring International Raceway is ready to test the fortitude of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers and the integrity of their machinery for the 71st time this weekend. The legendarily rough 3.74-mile, 17-turn former airfield circuit in Central Florida plays host to the second round of the championship, the second round of the Michelin Endurance Cup and begins the full championship season for two of the classes, LMP2 and LMP3, for which Daytona was a non-points race.
Cadillac — just named the official luxury car of Sebring International Raceway and celebrating 20 years of the V-Series — has been hot at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in recent years, taking the last three victories to close out the DPi era, it’s Dallara-based chassis seeming to handle the bumps much better. But Cadillac Racing’s freshly renamed V-Series.Rs in the hands of defending winner Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing, like the other GTP cars, are all-new, so we’ll have to wait to see if the new car still has an edge at the historic circuit.
“Excited to be going back to Sebring after two positive days of testing in February,” said Pipo Derani, driver of the No. 31 AXR Cadillac. “The cars are still new but showing strong potential, especially on reliability like we saw at Daytona. It’s still early days and Sebring is another fantastic opportunity for us to continue to learn more about our race car. And, as usual, with Sebring being a very difficult race on man and machine, it will be another great challenge for us to go through before Le Mans. On a personal note, of course I would love to win my fourth Sebring but a race win at the Twelve Hours is never an easy thing to achieve. Hard work and resilience will be key to get to the end with a chance of victory.”
Acura, and particularly Meyer Shank Racing, dominated at Daytona, but MSR comes to Sebring looking to redeem itself after the team was handed a raft of penalties for messing with the tire pressure data sent via telemetry to IMSA. Fellow Acura team Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, which finished second to MSR at Daytona, was on top of the official IMSA Sebring test last month.
Porsche and BMW, on the other hand, are hoping to rebound from the mechanical issues both suffered at Daytona. Both BMW M Team RLL and Porsche Penske Motorsports had problems with their MGUs and batteries, while neither Cadillac nor Acura experienced similar failures, perhaps indicating the issues were related to how each manufacturer charges and deploys the electrical energy. Sebring could very well show if that’s the case or not.
Drivers and teams to watch
Ben Keating and PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports, No. 52 ORECA-GIbson LMP2: PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports has won LMP2 in this race the last three years, Keating wheeling the car in the last two. The team has what it takes to win at Sebring and will certainly be strong. However … PR1 defectors Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker are now partnered with Steven Thomas at TDS Racing, so it will be interesting to see how much of PR1s overall pace at Sebring went with them.
Antonio Garcia and Corvette Racing: Corvette won the Twelve Hours last year, it’s only GTD PRO victory of the year, with Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg. 2023 marks Corvette Racing’s 25th attempt at Sebring, where it’s won its class 13 times. Garcia will be going for his fifth victory, alongside Taylor and Tommy Milner in the No. 3.
Among the 54 entries for the Twelve Hours of Sebring and WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring are more than two dozen drivers who will pull double duty during the weekend. The vast majority of those will be driving different cars and different classes, with a few exceptions. Dane Cameron and Michel Christensen will compete for Porsche Penske Motorsports in both races in the Porsche 963, and Josh Pierson will race LMP2 in both events.
Several more drivers will be switching between the GTD and GTE cars from their respective manufacturers, including Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon, Simon Mann and Alessio Rivera for Ferrari; and PJ Hyett, Gunnar Jeannette, Ryan Hardwick, Zacharie Robichon and Julien Andlauer for Porsche. Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche), along with Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco (Ferrari) will be switching from their manufacturers’ Hypercar in WEC to a GT car in IMSA.
Then there are several drivers who will be making a complete switch as they move from one pit lane to another, competing in entirely different classes or in different makes, including Mikkel Jensen, Tom Blomqvist, Scott Huffaker, Louis Deletraz, Ben Keating, Michael Dinan, Nico Varrone and the Iron Dames – Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy.
Qualifying records for Sebring International Raceway
GTP: New class in 2023 (DPi track record: Sebastien Bourdais, Cadillac DPi-V.R, 1m45.025s / 128.025mph, 2022
LMP2: Giedo van der Garde, ORECA LMP2, 1m48.311s / 124.308mph, 2022
LMP3: Rasmus Lindh, Ligier JS P320, 1m56.001s / 116.067mph, 2021
GTD PRO: Daniel Serra, Ferrari 488 GT3, 1m59.414s / 112.750mph, 2022
GTD: Daniel Serra, Ferrari 488 GT3, 1m58.710s / 113.420 mph, 2018
How to watch
Flag-to-flag coverage of the 2023 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, which begins at 10:10 a.m. ET on Saturday, will be streamed on Peacock, with television coverage on USA Network beginning at 4:30 p.m. Qualifying can be watched on IMSA.tv, beginning at 9:10 a.m. on Friday. Select practice sessions, qualifying and race will be broadcast by IMSA radio, on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, and SiriusXM will carry the race on channels 216 (Sirius) and 207 (XM).