It's been an incredible Porsche weekend here at Sebring. It started with Porsche legend Vic Elford's induction into the Sebring Hall of Fame and ended with a double victory for Porsche in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
After 12 grueling hours, Porsche factory drivers Pat Long, Michael Christensen, and Joerg Bergmeister have won the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR. Even better, Porsche have emerged with a double victory, as the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America of John Potter, Andy Lally, and Marco Seefried won the GTD class also.
#912 driver, Joerg Bergmeister had this to say about his last stint and the win,
“I was just telling myself ‘don’t mess it up’ those last laps. At first I pushed fairly hard and the car was really good. But, when I heard there was just five minutes to go I took some pace out and just tried to control it. I didn’t want to mess it up for these guys. Patrick always says I am good at night and I am just happy that it did work out.”
The GTLM victory gives Porsche's brand new works program a perfect winning record in the Tudor United Sports Car Championship thus far. Class wins in both the Rolex 24 of Daytona and this weekend's 12 hours of Sebring means Porsche has won both of North America’s premier sports car racing events, and the "36 hours of Florida"; a feat that has not been accomplished since the early 1990s. The No. 912 held off a field of factory efforts from the class pole position to snatch the victory, but, the race came down to a final 20-minute sprint after a late race caution flag packed the field for one final push to the finish. Bergmeister was behind the wheel for the final stint and managed to out-distance the gaggle of cars behind to give Porsche’s 911 RSR its third major endurance victory. In under 12 months, the Porsche GTE/GTLM effort has managed victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Porsche's head of Motorsport worldwide, Hartmut Kristen said,
“[It was] a really amazing race, like Sebring always is. Having a top podium finish in both GT classes is tremendous. The guys in the No. 911 car had a little bit of bad luck but otherwise everybody worked without any mistakes. With two wins this early with these kind of races and that kind of competition that is absolutely fabulous. It actually shows that our Junior Program is really the right thing to do with Michael Christensen being in GTLM in the winning car and Porsche Junior Alex Riberas in the GTD car. It is absolutely great.”
This victory is Bergmeister’s fourth at Sebring and Long’s second. It was a first for Christensen who also scored his first career pole position as a Porsche factory driver this weekend. Christensen is mighty quick, and you should definitely keep an eye on this kid.
“It’s amazing. To have the strong team like I have it is amazing to be a part of. I cannot be more happy than I am right now. It is just a great feeling that everything came together to make this happen.”, said Michael Christensen
Unfortunately, the story for the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR was a bit different, and their outcome was cast in stone early in the race. The car raced by Richard Lietz, Nick Tandy, and Patrick Pilet was involved in an incident that damaged the nose of the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning car. Repairs dropped the car six laps back at the time and to last in the GTLM class. Once back on track the team gave their all, and managed to claw back a few laps, closing the 12 hours in ninth, four laps behind their race-winning teammates.
Nick Tandy told us, “Obviously we are disappointed in the result but there is a lot of positive to take out of it. The team car ran very well. The team scored another victory. It is excellent. It goes to show the capability of both the cars. Secondly, after we got over the issues we had at the start of the race, the race pace of our car was very good. There are positives to take out of it. We still have two good point scoring finishes for the championship and we will take it on to the next one at Long Beach.”
Team Falken Tire debuted the first customer Porsche 911 RSR competing in the world with a strong performance. Factory drivers Wolf Henzler, and Marco Holzer, joined with Bryan Sellers, improving their position throughout the race, finishing fifth in class from their starting position of ninth. The team kept their nose clean and stayed out of trouble. The team admitted that they were using tires developed for the 997 RSR, and with some development time, should be a storming quick effort.
When asked about the race, factory driver Wolf Henzler had this to say, "We didn’t have much time to test, so we were not on pace for qualifying, but the race was a different story. The car was perfect, and the crew was great on pit stops. All the drivers did a great job and we were on our way to a podium until we had bad luck on the timing of the last pit stop, and lost track position. Overall, we are very pleased, and, considering we did not run at Daytona, we learned a lot for the next event.”
In the GTD class, the Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America outdistanced a strong field of competitors – overcoming a hard hit early in the race – to score the class win courtesy of drivers John Potter, Andy Lally, and Marco Seefried. This Magnus win marked the first win for the new Porsche 911 GT America. The Magnus team overcame shifter issues and some heavy front end damage to win the race by continuing to pound out quick laps despite adversity.
Andy Lally commented, “After we were pushed off the track, and had a shifter issue early in the race, it would have been easy to get discouraged, but the Magnus Racing crew made everything right, including changing the paddle shift compressor in less than 90 seconds. We made a great call on the final pit stop, and then traffic between us and the Ferrari sealed the deal.”
The Alex Job Racing "Team Seattle" Porsche saw factory junior driver Alex Riberas teaming with Ian James and Mario Farnbacher to contend for the win right to the end. The Team Seattle Porsche finished third in GTD.
Results Of The 2014 Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring
1. Christensen/Long/Bergmeister (DK/USA/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 286 laps
2. Bomarito/Bell/Wittmer (USA/GB/CAN), Viper GTS-R, 286
3. Priaulx/Auberlen/Hand (GB/USA/USA), BMW Z4 GTE, 286
4. Bertolini/Krohn/Jonsson (I/USA/S), Ferrari F458 Italia, 286
5. Henzler/Sellers/Holzer (D/USA/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 285
6. Gavin/Milner/Liddell (GB/USA/GB), Chevrolet Corvette, 285
9. Lietz/Tandy/Pilet (A/GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 282
1. Lally/Potter/Seefried (USA/USA/D), Porsche 911 GT America, 278 laps
2. Bell/Sweedler/Mediani/Segal (GB/USA/I/USA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 278
3. Riberas/Farnbacher/James (E/D/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 278
4. McNeil/Keen/Frommenwiler (USA/USA/CH), Porsche 911 GT America, 278
5. Albuquerque/Neiman/von Moltke (P/USA/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 278
6. Mies/Putman/Espenlaub (D/USA/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 278
The next round of the championship will take place on April 12 on the street circuit in Long Beach, California.
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