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Enthusiast’s Guide To The 12 Hours Of Sebring

Bradley Brownell March 10, 2014 Featured, Motorsports 8 Comments

The 12 hours of Sebring has been run in Sebring, Florida since 1950, and is among the crown jewels of the North American racing calendar. The 24 hours of Daytona is the official start to the racing season, but it feels like an outlier more than a month removed from any other major motorsport action on this continent. In that way, Sebring is something of a spiritual first race of the season for many drivers and enthusiasts.

Let’s Break It Down

There are four classes in the TUSCC currently; P, PC, GTLM, and GTD

P (Prototype) – 2014′ s  Sebring 12 hour will see seven LMP2 chassis competing, as well as ten Daytona Prototypes, and one DeltaWing.  A handful of those DP chassis are only entered in the North American Endurance Championship. The class seems pretty full, I’d say.

At Daytona, we saw the Daytona Prototypes (specifically the Corvette bodied cars) run away with it. Some people claimed the balance of performance was flawed, but really the performance gap wasn’t as high as people think. Many of the LMP2 chassis suffered from issues all race long, including the Pickett Racing Nissan-Oreca that finished only 3 laps down to the winning Action Express car. The DPs were always going to be superior at Daytona, as they were built for that track, and have a dozen years of development at that track over the LMP2 teams.

At Sebring, the pre-race test saw a lot more level playing field, as fastest times ping-ponged back and forth between P2 and DP teams. Sebring is not a track that favors top-speed, generally being a good track for cars that transition well. This is a place with fast sweeping turns, so if you manage those well, you’ll be likely to do well. From Daytona, the DP chassis have had their diffusers put back on, and they’ve gained some pretty massive cannards at each front corner as well. The downforce will certainly help these cars in the race on Saturday, but I’m interested in how that will play out with tire wear. The DPs are significantly heavier than their LMP2 counterparts, and that could factor in them pitting earlier to strap on new boots.

Laugh all you want, but if the team can manage to keep the car on the track, shiny bits facing the sky, and keep it running for 12 hours, I think the Deltawing has real potential at Sebring. This track will help the D-wing play to its strengths much better than Daytona could.

The Mazda prototypes are still abysmally slow, but I think they’ve made up enough pace to avoid being DFL in qualifying this time.

Following that massive crash at Daytona, the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing car has been withdrawn for the rest of the season.

Starworks have arranged with Honda to run their LMP2 V6 Turbo engine in the back of a Riley Daytona Prototype. Supposedly there is new bodywork for that car coming from Riley to help it compete aerodynamically with the Corvette package.  If they can get the engine/chassis combination to work well, they’ll be near the front. 

My money’s on – I think the safe bet here is Pickett Racing.

Daytona Prototype Entrants – 

Chip Ganassi Racing – Ford EcoBoost/Riley – 2 cars

Action Express Racing – Corvette DP – 2 cars

Wayne Taylor Racing – Corvette DP 

Marsh Racing – Corvette DP

Spirit of Daytona – Corvette DP

Michael Shank Racing – Ford EcoBoost/Riley

Highway To Help – Dinan/Riley

Starworks Motorsport – Honda/Riley

DeltaWing Entrants – 

DeltaWing Racing Cars DeltaWing DWC13

LMP2 Entrants – 

Extreme Speed Motorsports – HPD ARX-03b/Honda (2 car team)

SpeedSource Mazda – SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel (2 car team)

OAK Racing – Morgan/Nissan

Pickett Racing – Oreca 03 LM/Nissan

Millennium Racing – Oreca 03 LM/Nissan

PC (Prototype Challenge) – This spec class for open-topped Oreca FLM09 powered by a Chevrolet V8 engine is both economical and exciting at the same time.  As the cost of entry and running costs are comparatively low, LMPC grids have grown quite quickly.  There are 11 entrants for the 2014 Sebring 12 hour. 

CORE won the Daytona 24 PC category with emphatic verve. Keep an eye on them, as they are poised to do it all over again.

In last week’s Sebring test, only three PC teams showed up; 8Star, BAR1, and Starworks.  Surely that extra testing time on track will give them an edge, no?

 

Not much has changed in this class.

My money’s on – Never bet against CORE

Prototype Challenge Full Season Entrants – 

Starworks Motorsport (2car team)

RSR Racing (2 car team)

BAR1 Motorsports (2 car team)

8Star Motorsports

Performance Tech Motorsports

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports

CORE autosport

JDC/Miller Motorsports

GTLM (Grand Touring Le Mans) – This class is where I expect most of the excitement to come from the faster of two street car based specification classes in which recognizable sports cars compete, and is virtually unchanged from the ALMS GTE class. This year the class will be contested by factory Porsche’s new 911 RSR, Ferrari’s 458 Italia, BMW Z4 GTE, SRT’s Viper GTS-R, and Chevrolet’s new C7.R Corvette. All of the full season entered cars are represented by factory supported efforts, with one privateer Porsche entered by the Falken Tire team.  

Having to sit out the Daytona 24 while their new car was being built, Team Falken Tire will arrive at Sebring with a brand-spankin’-new Porsche 991 RSR. In order to get some miles under their belt, the Falken guys rolled the car out at last week’s test in an unwrapped carbon body shell. They weren’t super-fast right out of the box, but they put in some respectable lap times about a second down to the factory-run Porsches.

It seems that everyone that was fast at Daytona is relatively slower at Sebring. In testing, the CORE/PMNA Porsches were the only GTLM cars to break the 2 minute barrier, while the Corvettes and Vipers that were steaming quick on the high banks in January are comparatively lukewarm in Sebring.

Speaking of those blister-quick Porsches, they have a new livery.  Not only that, but they asserted their dominance by posting the fastest times in all four days of testing last week.

My money’s on – CORE autosport and Porsche Motorsport North America.

GTLM Full Season Entrants – 

Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R (2 car team)

Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

BMW Team Rahal-Lanigan-Letterman BMW Z4 GTE (2 car team)

Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia

SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R (2 car team)

Porsche North America/CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2 car team)

Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 Italia

GTD (Grand Touring Daytona) – This class is significantly less expensive to run in than the GTLM class, but the category is also the slowest.  This year, the class has received a lot of notice, and will include some great cars from some great teams.  This is the most diverse class in terms of manufacturer and likely to be one of the more exciting classes out there.  Using a formula that is similar to European GT3 specs, the GTD class is in a sweet spot right now, as many manufacturers are making GT3 spec cars.  There are a few aero changes required to make a GT3 car into a GTD car, but it hasn’t proven too difficult so far, and some manufacturers, like Porsche, are creating race cars specifically for the GTD class.

There were 12 Porsche GTD cars at Daytona, and that same 12 cars is scheduled to arrive at Sebring this week, too. While they had a distinct speed disadvantage at Daytona, there is less emphasis on top-speed at Sebring and they could be in their element next Saturday. Besides, there are some amazingly talented driver lineups in those cars. If they can keep their rear-tire wear in check, they’ll certainly be contenders.

Like GTLM, many of the GTD cars that were quick at Daytona are less so in Sebring. The highest place in class for an Audi R8 last week was 12th. Conversely, the Park Place and Alex Job Porsches were blisteringly quick, and the Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 found a bit of speed as well with all three posting times that *almost* put them on the heels of the slowest GTLM cars.

Young Madison Snow’s team, Snow Racing, has teamed with Matt Plumb and his Rum Bum Racing. A bright new livery and surely a few fistfulls of Bacardi money will surely help the team progress through this season. They have a killer team, a killer driver lineup, and a killer car. They managed a podium in the GTD class at Daytona, and finished on the same lap as the winners.

The biggest news heading into Sebring is that Scott Tucker pulled his Daytona-winning Level 5 Ferraris from racing for the rest of the season. Somehow he had difficulty in finding paying drivers to fund the race, so they won’t be there to defend their points lead.

The Nissan GT-R GT3 that was passed around the rumor mill in the pre-season has failed to materialize, and is still not on the entry list.

My money’s on – Snow Racing/Rum Bum Racing. I can’t help but think this is Madison’s breakout year.  He kicked some serious hind-end in GT3 Cup last year.

GTD Full Season Entrants – 

Rum Bum Racing/Snow Racing Porsche GT America

Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche GT America (2 car team)

Alex Job Racing Porsche GT America

Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche GT America

Dempsey Racing Porsche GT America (2 car team)

NGT Motorsport Porsche GT America 

GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS

Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R

Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS (2 car team)

Magnus Racing Porsche GT America

Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8 LMS

Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS

Spirit of Race Ferrari 458 Italia (2 car team)

Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia (2 car team)

Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT America (2 car team)

GB Autosport Porsche GT America

Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3

TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage (2 car team)

How to watch:

This is where things get a little sad.  I’m going to try to say it without crying. Only 3 hours of the 12 hour race will be televised! Yeah, you read that correctly. Only 1/4 of the race will be shown on your idiot box. Fox Sports 1 (née SPEED) will be broadcasting the start of the race from 10AM eastern until 1PM eastern. After that point, the Fox commentary team will continue with their broadcast on IMSA.com via live streaming video. IMSA, if you’re listening, this is what fans were bitching about in the aftermath of the merger. Get it figured out, and get your racing where casual fans can stumble across it if you really want to gain new followers.

Here’s the good news, though.

  1. Even though it isn’t on television, we do get all 12 hours of coverage. Unlike the ALMS’ use of ESPN3 streaming, however, IMSA.com does not require a contract with a cable provider to access.
  2. MRN have wisened up. Their coverage of Daytona was abysmally dull, and the commenting team were not exactly in their element. They didn’t know driver names, they weren’t very familiar with race strategy, and they didn’t seem very excited about being there. There is a silver lining, though, as MRN tossed those guys out and are bringing in some truly enthusiastic commentators for Sebring in the form of Ryan Eversly, and Greg Creamer. If there are two people that will get excited enough to flip over a table during a door-banging neck-and-neck photo finish, it’ll be these two guys. I’m looking forward to it.
  3. Spring Breakers!
  4. The winter doldrums are ending. It’s Sebring, BABY!

Resources

Entry List: 
Timing and Scoring: TBA
IMSA Mobile App: .
Andy Blackmore’s annual spotter’s guide: 
Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fan Schedule: 
Motor Racing Network: 

Follow me on Twitter –

Follow John Dagys on Twitter –

Follow Marshall Pruett on Twitter –

Follow Shea Adam on Twitter –

Television:

Saturday, March 15th
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1
1-10 p.m. EST on IMSA.com

  • SSurfer321

    I'm glad TUDOR has partnered with television coverage. Too bad my cord cutting is preventing me from watching the first 3 hours.
    Them going to a live stream at IMSA.com is better than their coverage of the 24hrs Daytona, where it was split between streaming, FOX1, FOX2 and FOX.

    Although I have found a way to VPN from offshore to stream it in its entirety if need be. I just miss being able to stream through my Xbox and fear I won't follow the sport as closely as I did ALMS.

  • skitter

    I will be telling anyone who stops by Deltawing that:
    1. Despite work going back to October, it still does not have a limited slip.
    2. We found some of the downforce we lost when we switched from roadster to coupe.
    3. We've taken steps to protect the gearbox from bad shifts, but we're still keeping a very close eye on it.

    • BradleyBrownell

      I still have optimistically high hopes for that car.

      I hope that you can keep it from going the way of the Abruzzi!

    • SSurfer321

      I love the original Deltawing. It lost a little luster once all the developing partners parted ways with the project after Panoz bought it out.

  • BradleyBrownell

    UPDATE: The Millenium Racing LMP2 has withdrawn their entry (no sponsors…).

    At 65 official entries now, this is still the largest field in a lot of years.

  • apfeifer3

    I'll be there. Hoping to take some pictures/notes of anything cool I see hoping to put something together. Not working this year ( 🙁 ) so I can wander around.

  • Nice cars and good speed. It would be a good show for sure.

  • Michelle

    Explain this race is it like 4 different races in 1 ?

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