Scott Dixon in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac is in command of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as the race reached one-third on the clock. All four manufacturers were represented in the top four before the most recent round of pit stops, but the order at the end of the hour behind Dixon sees Louis Deletraz in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 ahead Felipe Nasr in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 in third.
If the first four hours of the race have taught the racers anything, it’s that a GTP car is going to a handful halfway through a second tire stint in the Sebring heat. Polesitter Pipo Derani, double-stinting the tires he qualified on, was the first to find out just how bad it was. The No. 31 Action Express Cadillac V-Series.R began falling back through the field after most cars took tires in the first round of stops, likely putting Derani into position for the next bit of misfortune — contact with a spinning LMP3 car immediately in front of him, breaking the nose of the Cadillac and leaving him stationary for a moment.
PROBLEMS for Pipo Derani!
An LMP3 car spins in front of him. #IMSA
Watch flag-to-flag coverage of Sebring: https://t.co/btQceihlab pic.twitter.com/2RnICYo46Q
— Motorsports on NBC (@MotorsportsNBC) March 18, 2023
Derani tried to stay out, waiting for the pits to open during the ensuing full-course caution, but eventually had to come in for emergency service as the nose rubbed the left-front tire before it started shedding bits of carbon. It would take several trips to the pits to get the car back into shape, and then a stop plus 10s penalty for emergency service, but the car remained on the lead lap and seems fine, now in the hands of Alexander Sims who was bringing the car up through the field.
“We were struggling late there with the qualifying tires like a lot of teams,” said Derani. “Unfortunately, a P3 car spun right in front of me and I had no time to react. The car should be OK. The tire didn’t damage a lot, perhaps only the front wing that we were able to change. We changed the things we had to change – the tires and nose – and it’s still early on. We have time to recover whatever we lost.”
Ricky Taylor was the next to make the slick discovery when he was running second in the No. 10 Acura. Taylor not only couldn’t leave Philip Eng in the No. 24 BMW M Team RLL, but was backing up everyone behind him as Dixon pulled out a big gap on fresh tires. Helio Castroneves in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian Acura also appeared to be struggling with the tires in their second stint.
Both BMWs have been running well and hanging onto the leaders, a very different situation from the Rolex 24 at Daytona where the BMWs were not only off the pace but both experienced significant mechanical issues before the four-hour mark in that race. For a long time in the last hour, they were running second and third and holding off the two Porsche Penske Motorsports cars.
The Porsches were running well together until Nick Tandy experienced an unknown issue when he slowed due to a “weird gas” in the cockpit and then limped around the track with the door open. The crew tightened a hose, closed the door and sent Tandy back out. Deletraz in the No. 10 was behind him when he slowed, and the Acura made light contact with the Porsche.
GTD PRO is developing into a battle between the No. 3 Corvette and the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG, which has come through the field after starting last due to a ride-height infraction in qualifying. Jordan Taylor took the lead in the No. 3 from Maro Engel just before the hour. Engel had been leading, but light contact with the No. 60 MSR Acura as Castroneves came through slowed him enough for Taylor to get through. Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 is running third in pursuit, but has the GTD leader in between him and the leading pair.
That GTD leader is Mike Skeen in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG. Kenton Koch put the car into the lead in his first stint before handing over to Skeen, and Skeen has a couple of other GTD PRO cars between him and second-place runner Corey Lewis in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3. Lewis also has a GTD PRO buffer between him and Zacharie Robichon running third in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911.
Fourth in GTD is the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG that, like the No. 79, had to start in the back due to a ride-height infraction, currently in the hands of Indy Dontje, followed by Jaxon Evans in the No. 91 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 911.
The No. 11 TDS Racing team has had to serve several penalties for not meeting minimum refuel time, yet Mikkel Jensen currently has the car in the lead of LMP2, followed by George Kurtz in the No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing ORECA. Alex Quinn is running second in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, polesitter Ben Keating having exited the car after driving the first 2h40m of the race.
The polesitting No. 36 Andretti Autosport has a commanding lead in LMP3, despite a spin for current driver Jarett Andretti after contact while lapping the GTD No. 80 AO Racing Porsche. Garret Grist is second in the No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier, followed by Orey Fidani in the No. 13 AWA Duqueine.