Once again, a dramatic finale at IMSA. The 12:00 Sebring ended surprisingly and unexpectedly. Few expected Porsche to be in the fight for victory, but the succession of interruptions in the race brought the German brand to the top positions, after Cadillac and Acura dominated the first hours of the test. The final fight was in charge of the two Porsches and the Acura #10 of Filipe Albuquerque, but an accident in the final minutes took the Portuguese driver and the two Porsches out of the fight.
Ricky Taylor, in #10 (R. Taylor / F. Albuquerque / L. Deletraz) managed to gain a position at the start, securing second place, behind #31 (P. Derani / A. Sims / J. Aitken) of Pipo Derani, the pole holder. But near the end of the first hour, Sebastien Bourdais in #01 (S. Bourdais / R. van der Zande / S. Dixon) ended up returning to second place lost in the first meters of the race, which was interrupted in the first few laps. Derani led, followed by Bourdais and Taylor. At the end of the GTP refueling window, the second Full Course Yellow of the race appeared and the order for the main category was the #01 of Bourdais, who managed to win the position in the pits, followed by the #31 of Derani, the #60 of Tom Blomqvist (T. Blomqvist / C. Braun /H. Castroneves), #7 (M. Campbell / F. Nasr / M. Christensen) by Matt Campbell and #10 by Ricky Taylor.
The Cadillacs began to settle in front with the Acura #10 always close by. But the #31 Cadillac struggled with an incident with an LMP3, at a time when the Derani was losing a lot of time with a double stint on the same set of tyres. At this stage it was the #01 in front, pursued by the #10. Porsches and BMWs were close by, but not too bothersome.
Albuquerque led midway through the race
Halfway through the race, the lead belonged to Filipe Albuquerque, with a well-orchestrated stop at the time of yet another interruption, followed by Cadillac #31, after the #01 had problems with a spinning top. If we had Cadillac and the Acura #10 in the fight for the first places, with the Acura #60 close by, the Porsches and the BMWs were always at some distance, in the fight for the top5.
Thus, the fight for the first place seemed to have two main candidates, the #01 and the #10, with the #60 around and with the #31 showing some inconstancy. But at the end of the ninth hour, and when it was in the lead, Cadillac #01 returned to the pits with the beginning of fire. It was the end of the race for the American machine and the end of the dream for Chip Ganassi, who won last year. It was at that time that the Acura #10 returned to the lead, this after a penalty (Drive Through) for exceeding the permitted speed in the pit lane. Ricky Taylor recovered well and returned to the top, handing the car to Louis Deletraz, who in turn handed over the lead machine to Filipe Albuquerque, who took over the last two hours of the race.
The #10 looked at solid pace and was on course for victory, while the fight for the remaining podium spots remained open. At the start of the last two hours, Porsche #7 (M. Campbell / F. Nasr / M. Christensen) followed in second, followed by BMW #25 (C. De Phillippi / N. Yelloly / S. van der Linde) , the only Bavarian car still on track, with the #24 (P. Eng / A. Farfus / M. Wittmann) dropping out with problems, in the seventh hour of the race. The Acura #60 (T. Blomqvist / C. Braun / H. Castroneves) and the Cadillac #31 and Porsche #6 (N. Tandy / M. Jaminet / D. Cameron) also had a chance to get a good result. But successive interruptions in the last few hours brought Porsche into the fight for victory.
Successive interruptions changed the scenario of the race
The task was very difficult for the Acura #60, which in the 11th hour of the test was stopped on the track, which caused another Full Course Yellow, after having lost a wheel. It was the end of the fight for victory for the second Acura. The BMW was stopped longer in the pits for repairs, a change of brakes on the rear axle and with that they fell off the leader’s lap.
Shortly after the restart, another interruption with Pietro Fittipaldi’s Oreca #51 going off track at turn 1, with a wheel coming off and hitting LMP3 #30. The interruption took the peloton until the last hour.
On the restart, Albuquerque maintained the lead, while the #7 Porsche was penalized for a Drive Through, as mechanics worked on the car outside the designated area. But Porsche’s #6 threatened Albuquerque’s #10. The fight was tough between the two cars, with Albuquerque being very aggressive at this stage, but maintaining the position. Minutes later, another interruption with another runway exit.
Incident turned race inside out
The fight for the win would be between Albuquerque in Acua #10, Mathieu Jaminet in Porsche #6 and Jack Aitken in Cadillac #31, and Porsche #7.
The #10 and #6 pitted and the Porsche came out ahead of the Acura and Albuquerque would have to pass Jaminet on the track, with Jack Aitken in the lead, who only held on for half a lap, with the #6 Porsche moving into the lead. , with #10 following suit. This restart was frantic and we saw the #7 Porsche, the #31 Caddy and the #10 Acura side by side on the finish line, with the Portuguese braking later and moving into second place. The fight was tremendous, but Jaminet kept ahead, pressured by Albuquerque, who in turn was pursued by Felipe Nasr.
The drama happened in the last minutes of the test. Albuquerque attacked Jamniet, who was trying to pass a GT’s and there was a touch between both (the fight between the pilots had already heated up previously), which threw the Portuguese against the barriers. The Acura returned to the track, already out of control and became a barrier for the two Porsches that collided with the Japanese machine. The main candidates for victory were thus removed from the fight. Jack Aitken was second, with Nick Yelloly’s BMW #24 in second.
The race was interrupted again with an FCY, but we still had 5 minutes of racing with Aitken in #31 in front with open road for the victory of the Cadillac of Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac, with the BMW #24 of BMW M Team RLL in second . Third place overall went to Tower Motorsports LMP2 #8 (J. Farano / S. McLaughlin / K. Simpson). GTD Pro victory went to the #9 Porsche by Pfaff Motorsports (K. Bachler / P. Pilet / L. Vanthoor) while the #1 BMW by Paul Miller Racing (B. Sellers / M. Snow / C. Lewis) won in GTD. In LMP3, victory for Riley’s Ligier #74 (G. Robinson / F. Fraga / J. Burdon), with a race to forget for João Barbosa’s #33.
Another crazy run. Cadillac looked favorite, but sweated a lot to win. The Acura #10 was always strong and always managed to walk in front, but the night brought many surprises and Porsche approached the first places. No one expected a Porsche vs. Acura fight, but it happened and ended prematurely in a racing incident. He took advantage of the “Caddy” #31 which had a race with ups and downs, knowing how to take advantage of other people’s misfortunes, just like the BMW #24 which achieved a surprising podium. Cadillac #01 looked like one of the strongest contenders, but bad luck took it out of the race. Sebring was once again so close for Albuquerque, but the final incident threw it all away. One more performance “à la Albuquerque” stands out, fearless, aggressive and on the edge.
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Tags: IMSA Sebring Crash race takes victory Filipe Albuquerque