E-Mail E-Mail

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

® ®
Made with StudioLine Made with StudioLine
Made with StudioLine

Sebring, 18 – 21 March 2015

The 2015 edition of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fuelled by Fresh from Florida, to give it it’s full title, was the 63rd running of the endurance race, and the 20th anniversary with Mobil 1 as a title sponsor. The event also celebrated the 40th anniversary of BMW’s 1975 win with a 3.0 CSL Coupe, which was driven by Hans Stuck / Brian Redman / Allan Moffatt / Sam Posey, with Hans Stuck being the Grand Marshal of the 2015 event. He also drove an example of the 1975 winning car on a parade lap preceding the main race on the Saturday morning, which was on display together with a 2015 Z4 GTE on the BMW stand behind the pit area. Another anniversary being celebrated was the 50th of the 1965 win by the Chaparral 2 of Jim Hall and Hap Sharp, with the car on display in the Hall of Legends building, and like the BMW was driven on a parade lap prior to the main race, this time by Jim Hall Jr.

... MediaCenter Gallery >>>

Apart from the main 12 Hour race, there was a strong support programme of nine races, two each for the Mazda MX-5 series, the Lites, the Porsche GT3 Cup and HSR Vintage, plus a 2.5 hour race on the Friday afternoon for the Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge. Thus, with all the practice and qualifying sessions, plus parade laps, there was almost constant varied track action from the Wednesday morning through to the Saturday evening. The fan friendly event also featured the regular driver autograph session on the Friday morning, plus the one hour grid walk on Saturday morning just prior to the start, giving spectators the opportunity to get close to the cars, drivers and teams.

The 12 Hour race had an entry of 46 cars, 14 in the top P class, 7 in the PC class, 9 in the GTLM class and 16 in the GTD class, although there were three non-starters, one from the P class and two from the GTD class. Competitors had three 1 hour daytime practice sessions on the Thursday and Friday, plus a 1.5 hour night session on the Thursday evening, followed by 15 minute qualifying sessions for each class on the Friday afternoon.

The qualifying sessions for the individual classes saw the # 57 JS P2 Judd of Krohn Racing driven by Olivier Pla take the P class and overall pole position with a lap of 1min 51.152secs, which was 0.303sec quicker than the # 1 Tequila Patron Honda HPF ARX driven by Ryan Dalziel. The pole position time was 0.976sec faster than the quickest of the Daytona Prototypes, which was the # 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Joao Barbosa. In the PC class it was the # 16 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 driven by Martin Plowman that claimed pole position from the similar # 54 CORE Autosport example driven by Colin Braun by 0.07sec, with the # 52 PR1 / Mathiason Motorsports example driven by Tom Kimber-Smith.

In the GT classes the qualifying honours went to the # 912 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Frederic Makowiecki in the Porsche North America entry, by 0.219sec from the sister # 911 example driven by Patrick Pilet, with the # 3 Corvette C7.R driven by Antonio Garcia 3rd quickest 0.022sec in arrears. The top six runners in this class were only covered by 0.343sec, so there was an interesting battle for class honours in prospect. In the GTD category it was the # 33 Riley Motorsports entered Dodge Viper SRT driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen that claimed the class pole position, followed by the # 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America driven by Mario Farnbacher, and the similar # 73 example of Park Place Motorsports driven by Spencer Pumpelly. Of the four classes, there were new qualifying records set in three of them, with only the PC class record remaining unbroken.

Just as in the days leading up to it, race day was hot and sunny with predominantly clear blue skies and a midday ambient temperature of close to 30deg C, so it was going to be a hot race for all concerned. When the pace car pulled off at the end of the formation laps, the # 57 Krohn Racing Ligier capitalised on its pole position to lead the field through Turn 1, and led for the first 20 laps with Olivier Pla at the wheel. It had a slow pit stop and also contact with a PC car leaving the pits, which delayed its progress with team owner Tracy Krohn at the wheel, as the exhaust system was damaged and it lost four laps having repairs executed, effectively ruining its race. However, it still managed to make it to the end of the race, finishing in 8th place, and was the only LMP2 car running at the chequered flag, with the DeltaWing DWC13 (in a striking new livery) once again taking an early bath, this time with suspension problems.

The failure of the LMP2 cars allowed the Daytona Prototypes to take control of the race at the head of the field, and it was the # 5 Corvette DP that was the class of the field, in the hands of Jaoa Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bordais, ending up with a lap in hand over its nearest rival by the end of the race, despite six full course yellows for various incidents during the course of the race. There were a total of five overall race leaders during the race, apart from the two already mentioned, the # 1 Honda HPD ARX of Sharp / Dalziel / Heinemeier Hansson also headed the field, but eventually retired with suspension problems. The # 01 Chip Ganassi Racing entered Riley DP Ford Ecoboost of Hand / Pruett / Dixon also led, but eventually came home 4th, whilst the # 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP of Westbrook / Valiante / Rockenfeller was the other race leader, but lost out on the runner-up spot in the closing stages when its air jacks failed, allowing the # 10 example of Wayne Taylor Racing driven by Taylor R. / Taylor J. / Angelelli to take the place.

In the PC class the Rolex 24 at Daytona class winning # 52 Oreca FLM09 driven by Guasch / Palmer / Kimber-Smith repeated its performance to take the class win, once again from the # 54 example driven by Bennett/Braun/Gue, but this time in a straight fight, as it may be remembered that the # 54 car at Daytona had a late race crash which had robbed it of what had appeared a certain class victory. The final podium spot in the class went to the # 38 example of Mee/French/Daly, which had qualified 4th quickest.

In the GTLM class it was the expected hard fought battle, with the qualifying dominating Porsches leading for much of the race, but chased hard by the Corvettes, and the lone Ferrari 458 GT2 in the class, the # 62 Risi Competizione example driven by Kaffer / Fisichella / Bertolini. The lone Aston Martin V8 Vantage was never really in the hunt after losing a wheel early in the race, which brought out the first full course yellow while it was recovered. It eventually managed to get going again, but was too far back to make any impression on the class result, whilst the BMW Z4 GTEs, which had qualified 4th and 6th in class, didn’t have the race pace to make them contenders for victory, unless other runners hit trouble. The class result eventually came down to a late race safety car period, when everybody pitted for fuel. The # 3 Corvette in the hands of Antonio Garcia was able to eke out his fuel until the end of the race, but the Porsches had to make a further stop for a “splash and dash”. The # 62 Risi Ferrari was able to capitalise, after having to short shift during the heat of the afternoon to keep engine temperature down, the slightly cooler evening allowed the drivers to up the revs, and the result was 2nd in class, which was a great relief after the team’s retirement at Daytona when leading the class. The # 911 Porsche of Tandy / Pilet / Lieb / Bamber took the final class podium position, ahead of the # 24 Luhr / Edwards / Kingmann BMW Z4. The # 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari also won the Dekra Green Challenge Award, for the cleanest, fastest and most efficient performance.

The GTD class win looked as though it was going to the province of the # 33 class pole sitting Dodge Viper SRT, which took the class lead with 10 minutes of the race remaining, only to retire 5 minutes later with overheating due to a radiator holed by debris, which must have been a real heartbreak for the team. This promoted the # 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America driven by James / Farnbacher M. / Riberas to the top spot of the class podium, maybe with justification, as fading brakes and a small off had allowed the Viper to take the class lead in the final minutes of the race, only to lose it again a few minutes later when he had to pit with overheating. The runner-up spot went to the # 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage of Nielsen/Davison/Davis, giving Aston Martin some consolation for their GTLM disappointing result, whilst the # 63 Ferrari 458 GT3-AM of Scuderia Corsa took the final podium position in the hands of Sweedler / Bell / Lazzaro.

Podium Results
Overall & P Class
Pos. R# Drivers Team Car

1st 5 J. Barbosa/ C. Fittipaldi/ S. Bourdais Action Express Racing Corvette DP
2nd 10 J. Taylor/ R. Taylor/ M. Angelelli Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP
3rd 90 R. Westbrook/ M. Valiante/  M. Rockenfeller VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP

PC Class
1st 52 M. Guasch/ A. Palmer/ T. Kimber-Smith Mathiasen Motorsport Oreca FLM09 2nd 54 J. Bennett/ C. Braun/ J. Gue CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09 3rd 38 J. Mee/ J. French/ C. Daly Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09

GTLM Class
1st 3 J. Magnussen/ A. Garcia/ R. Briscoe Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R
2nd 62 P. Kaffer/ G. Fisichella/ A. Bertolini Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 GT2 2866
3rd 17 B. Sellers/ W. Henzler/ P. Long Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR

GTD Class
1st 23 I. James/ M. Farnbacher/ A. Ribieras Team Seattle/  Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America
2nd 007 C. Nielsen/ J. Davison/ B. Davis TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage
3rd 63 B. Sweedler/ T. Bell/ A. Lazzaro Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3-AM 3270

Keith Bluemel