|Photo Credit: DPPI|
First held in 1950, the Sebring International Raceway has provided the United States motorsport fans a chance to witness the world’s most awesome sports car operating at the peak of performance. As the American Le Mans Series and the newly formed World Endurance Championship arrived at the Sebring 5.95-kilometer (3.7-mile), the venue was prepared to play host to the 60th running of their famous 12-hour event. The 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida recorded a stellar 64-car field starting the event from race team representing countries of Germany, France, the United Kingdom as well as the United States.
A hot day where the sun toasted the asphalt/concrete surface of the Sebring International Raceway at 26 degrees Celsius, the race commenced with the three Audi R18 TDI prototype sports cars storming away through the advantage of the lead track position on the start. Deeper in the field, the traffic of 60-plus cars played a part in a collision between two GT cars as the race was just beginning. The #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and the #51 Ferrari both sustained serious damage to sports cars requiring extended work in the garage area.
|Photo Credit: DPPI|
The story of the 60th anniversary of the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida would circulate around a high frequency of caution periods. With the first full course yellow slowing the sports car field at the 13 minute mark for a stopped #61 Ferrari F458 Italia, the 12-hour race proved to be a close one in several of the five categories racing at the track. It was only in the lead LMP1 class that a race car was able to dominate.
The lead prototype category presented the least amount of suspense but still featured a historical performance of the three-car effort that was Audi Sport Team Joest. While the #1 car (consisting of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler) took pole on Friday, it the #2 Audi R18 would control much of the Sebring race. In the middle of the fifth hour, the #1 Audi R18 TDI suffered an electronic issue in the gearbox shifter. Originally making an unscheduled stop to repair the issue at the end of hour four of the Sebring event, the Audi Sport Team Joest operation realized their #1 car needed extended repairs costing the 2011 driving combination a chance to win.
Like clockwork, the remaining two Audi R18 TDI sailed to prototype and overall victory. At the end, the #2 car helmed by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello took the top honours with a four-lap lead over the #3 car. Finishing in the top-2 overall positions at the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida, the Audi R18 TDI executed a near masterful run for this 10th win in 14 starts at the Florida sports car track.
|Photo Credit: Porsche Cars|
Third overall, the class-winning P2 entry from Starworks Motorsports found success with the Honda-powered HPD-ARX 03b race machine. The #44 prototype picked up the third overall in the 12-hour event due to a fuel rig failure with the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing #6 car in the race‘s late stage. Vicente Potolicchio, Ryan Delziel and Stephane Sarrazin made up the driving team for the #44 car’s win. The #44 Starworks Motorsports poached the lead from the #055 Level 5 Motorsports operation competing in an identical HPD-ARX 03b P2 sports car by 32.27 seconds. Finishing third in P2 category was the #24 Oak Racing Morgan-Judd. Leading the P2 class early in the event, the Oak Racing Morgan lost touch with the top spot in class partly due to a spin in turn four that resulted in a full course yellow to retrieve the car.
In what proved to be the most competitive class during the entire 12-hour running of the Sebring event, the production car-based GT category ended as a fight among multiple teams. In the first hour of the race, the Ferrari F458 Italia cars were planted in the top three GT class positions. However, as the Sebring event clock continued to tick, the #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR took the lead. The #155 BMW M3 car prepped by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing were also in the hunt early but a stop and start penalty on pit road robbed the team of momentum early.
In hour two, the #17 Porsche encountered a vibration that took the victory-contending race machine out of the GT lead pack. With Porsche’s losing a chance to claim the primary GT class victory out, the German sports car maker still only had the GTE-AM sub category and the GT Challenge consisting of all-Porsche 911 Cup cars to cheer.
|Photo Credit: Porsche Cars|
By hour five in the Sebring 12-Hour race‘s GT contest, the Chevrolet Corvette C6R ZR1 race cars appeared to gain the upper hand. Having won the GT class seven times before at Sebring International Raceway, he Corvette Racing squad were motivated by the performance of both the #03 and #4 car. As night time dawned on the Sebring race, the Chevrolet Corvette C6R ZR1 continued to pace their class until the #56 BMW M3 poured on some serious speed in the final two hours. Setting a class fast lap just above 2-minutes flat, the second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW M3 car took the lead from the Corvette team cars into the final hour.
In the last hour, the GT class of the 2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida provided a terrific on-track bout where five cars on the lead lap fought. The #56 BMW M3 continued leading while the Corvette Racing squad efforts to keep pace fell short of class victory. One GT with the best chance to spoil the #56 BMW M3 was the #71 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia. Closing from 4.64 to 1.64 seconds within the last minutes of the event, the #71 Ferrari caught the #56 and bravely fought for the GT category victory on the last lap. Almost capturing the lead, the #71 AF Corse Ferrari handled by Oliver Beretta went off course, dramatically costing the team Sebring victory as well as second place as the #03 Corvette C6R ZR1 crept by for second place. The #56 BMW M3 of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing soared to win the GT class for the second straight year at Sebring.
|Photo Credit: BMW Motorsports|
While each category of racing in the American Le Mans Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship competitions provided their own level of excitement, the 60th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring supplied a memorable, lively sports car event. Topping the 12 hours of on-track racing, the Audi fulfilled their near-duty by capturing overall victory Due to a multitude of full course yellow flags in the 2012 edition of the Sebring sports car competition, an overall distance of 1,201.6 miles recorded this year was the shortest since the 2000 race.
2012 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida
American Le Mans Series/ FIA World Endurance Championship
1 #2 McNish, Kristensen, Capello, Audi R18
2 #3 Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas,Loic Duval, Audi R18
3 #16 Collard, Boullion, Jousse; Pescarolo Judd
4 #6 Dyson, Smith, Kane Lola B12/60 Mazda
5 #21 Kane, Leventis, Watts; HPD ARX-03a Honda
1 #44 Sarrazin, Potolicchio, Dalziel; HPD ARX-03b Honda
2 #055 Tucker; Bouchut, Barbosa, HPD ARX-03b
3 #24 Pla, Nicolet, Lahaye; Morgan/Judd
4 #49 Kaffer, Ayari, Companc; Oreca/Nissan
5 #41 Julian, Zugel, Gonzalez; Zytek Z11SN-Nissan
1 #06 Papow, Viso, Frisselle; Oreca FLM09
2 #52 Leitzinger, Dobson, Junco Jr; Oreca FLM09
3 #05 Bennett, Braun, Lux; Oreca FLM09
4 #7 Sanchez, Ducote, Echeverria; Oreca FLM09
5 #5 Guasch, Gidley, Wills; Oreca FLM09
1 #56 Mueller, Summerton; Hand; BMW E92 M3
2 #03 Magnussen, Garcia, Taylor; Corvette C6-ZR1
3 #71 Beretta, Cioci, Bertolini; Ferrari F458 Italia
4 #4 Gavin, Milner, Westbrook; Corvette C6-ZR1
5 #055 Auberlen, Alzen, Muller; BMW E92 M3
1 #88 Ruberti, Ried, Roda; Porsche 911 RSR 997
2 #70 Belloc, Bourret, Gibon; Corvette C6-ZR1
3 #50 Lamy, Bornhauser, Canal; Corvette C6-ZR1
4 #57 Jonsson, Rugulo, Krohn; Ferrari F458 Italia
5 #55 Camathias, Binnie, Palttala; Porsche 911 RSR 997
1 #023 Moltke, Sweedler, Bell; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
2 #022 Keen, Dumoulin, MacNeil; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
3 #34 Faulkner, Bleekemolen, Lesaffre; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
4 #66 Di Guida, Bunting, Pumpelly; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
5 #11 Estre, Cumming, Bullitt; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup