Cadillacs lead 1-2-3 sweep in 12 Hours of Sebring

The Taylor Brothers flank their new co-driver Alex Lynn
The Taylor Brothers flank their new co-driver Alex Lynn

Call it a remarkably trouble-free sweep of the "36 Hours of Florida" for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R duo of brothers and full-time co-drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, who with new third co-driver Alex Lynn of Great Britain scored a convincing win Saturday in the 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the heels of the team's resounding season-opening victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona the last weekend in January.

Once again, it was older brother Ricky Taylor who started and finished Saturday's endurance classic on the treacherous Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway 3.74-mile, 17-turn road circuit, this time crossing the finish line a convincing 13.614 seconds ahead of the runner-up No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque with the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R of Eric Curran, Dane Cameron and Mike Conway coming home third, albeit a lap down, to make it an all-Cadillac podium.

"A 1-2-3 for Cadillac is unbelievable," said Ricky Taylor, who made a late-race pass of Albuquerque to secure the Rolex 24 win seven weeks ago and Saturday took the lead for good over Barbosa on the final exchange of pit stops with 33 minutes remaining and stretched his margin over the final 19 laps to the checkered flag. "To say that a brand-new car out of the box has run 36 hours of racing absolutely flawlessly, I don't think that has ever happened. It is a testament to Cadillac and all of the development partners. It says so much about the brand and the serious effort they have brought to sportscar racing. The Cadillac is the toughest car to beat. The (No. 5) Mustang Sampling and (No. 31) Whelen cars are fast. I am sure they are going to bring it at Long Beach and the rest of the season."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Taylor's ability to stay ahead of Barbosa after the final exchange of pit stops was what turned out to seal the deal for the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team, which patiently stayed within relative striking distance over the first two-thirds of the 12-hour endurance marathon but worked a brilliant strategy to take charge of its destiny over the final third and benefited from some brilliant driving by the Taylor brothers and the 23-year-old Lynn.

While the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R dominated the first seven hours of the race and ultimately finished with a race-high 168 laps led, a string of stints during which the Taylor brothers stretched the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R's fuel mileage several laps beyond that of the No. 5 car's set the stage for the pit stop that turned the tide. With a scheduled driver change at the seven-and-a-half-hour mark, the team opted to pit early on the same lap as the No. 5 car. Needing much less fuel at the time, the team was able to replace Ricky Taylor with Lynn behind the wheel and get the car back on track well ahead of the No. 5 car. Lynn was able to maintain a comfortable margin over the No. 5 car until Albuquerque was able to slip past for the lead near the end of the stint.

The winning #10 Cadillac
The winning #10 Cadillac

Jordan Taylor took over for Lynn with just over three hours remaining and, within 30 minutes, he regained the lead by passing Albuquerque while maneuvering onto the front straight. From there, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R led all but four laps and finished with 106 total laps led.

"It is absolutely unbelievable," Lynn said of the victory in his first career North American sportscar start after a stellar start to his young career in mostly open-wheel cars in his native Europe. "I am at a loss for words to describe it. Jordan and Ricky are amazing teammates. They drove an awesome race today. The team was flawless. It is 36 hours of zero problems for Cadillac on the racetrack. The team has won the two biggest races in America and a podium sweep for Cadillac today. A great result for all concerned."

For Jordan Taylor, it completed a career grand slam of the world's four iconic endurance events – the Rolex 24, the Sebring 12-hour, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Petit Le Mans – something his father and team owner, three-time sportscar champion Wayne Taylor, also achieved in his illustrious career.

"It was a great run," Jordan Taylor said. "It is more proof that this platform is great. We've run 36 hours of racing without a single problem. It is great to have Konica Minolta in victory lane again, and to celebrate that with Ricky and Alex is really special."

Saturday's victory also gave both Taylor brothers the distinction of sweeping both the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12-hour events in the same season, a feat their father also completed 21 years ago to the day en route to his first sportscar championship in 1996.

 Jan Magnussen (R), Antonio Garcia (C), and Mike Rockenfeller (L)
Mike Rockenfeller (L), Antonio Garcia (C), and Jan Magnussen (R)
Richard Prince/Chevy

"I came into this weekend actually thinking how great it would be if my sons could duplicate the milestones that I was able to achieve in my career and to see those things actually happen is just unbelievable," Wayne Taylor said. "I'm just so happy for them, for Alex to be able to come here and win his very first race in America, for our entire team that has worked so hard, as well as our partners Konica Minolta and Cadillac and GM who we've been with for so very long. Without all of them, none of this would be possible. It took a while for it to sink in that we finally won the Daytona 24-hour. Now, I think it's going to take a bit for it to sink in that we won Daytona and Sebring back-to-back – with our brand new Cadillac. It's already been a season of memories that will last the rest of our lives."

The pole-sitting No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, who showed the most promise to dethrone the Cadillacs, battled electrical issues, leading to an alternator change and multiple trips to the garage.

Both of the Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis retired, first the No. 22 car due to a broken exhaust after running as high as fourth, followed by the No. 2 entry, which went behind the wall early with the continuation of boost-related issues from qualifying.

While the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P recorded a fifth place class finish, following a trip to the garage to repair a coolant leak, brake issues led to a crash easy by Joel Miller, which later rejoined only to be retired due to suspension issues.

Shifting issues, meanwhile, plagued the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson, which soldiered home to 7th in class, behind the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson after multiple trips to the garage with engine and starter motor gremlins.

But the biggest upset of the race was in GTLM. Ford brought 3 of its rear-engine Ford GTs and Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche all have rear-engine cars and still the front engine Corvette, running at a disadvantage, used pit strategy and a stirring drive by Antonio Garcia drive to deliver Ford and Ferrari a bitter defeat.

Garcia's Corvette came alive once the sun went down and the temperatures dropped, keeping the Ford GTs at bay in the final hours to claim GT Le Mans class victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Garcia, Jan Magnussen, and Mike Rockenfeller was strong all race after qualifying fifth but had to use clever pit strategy to take the class lead with just over an hour remaining and held off Ganassi's Ford GT onslaught to take home a third consecutive Sebring class win. This defeat is going to sting in Ford's Dearborn offices for a long time.

It is the first time a team has claimed three consecutive class wins in the Florida endurance classic since Level 5 Motorsports won four consecutive races in 2010-2013.

Chevy handed Ford a bitter defeat again
Chevy handed Ford a bitter defeat again
Richard Prince/Chevy

Garcia said, "I knew it was going to be really, really tough. Since yesterday in qualifying it was super close, the first two hours I managed to make my way up to P2. I did two hours first following the No. 66 – 2 seconds. 2 seconds. Then I did that third hour and I was kind of sick of following Fords. So at some point I just needed to go. We made that really good call to come in with the Ferrari.

"So the Fords stayed out on a poorer set of tires than us. I knew that had to be my stint. That first stint with two or three stints to go I needed to make the moves and pass the Ferrari. I passed the No. 68; I passed (Scott) Dixon. I passed everybody because I knew it had to be done then because that was probably the only time they would be a little bit weaker than we were.

"It worked. At the end the Porsche looked very, very strong. That second-to-the-last time they pitted quite a bit later than us, and they were flying. They passed all the way up to us until that last safety car. Again, there was a magnificent stop by the Corvette Racing crew. I think the Porsche made a mistake there.

"Without knowing, I thought it was Joey (Hand) behind us, but it was again the Porsche. I knew it was going to be tough. I didn't know if I was going to be able to hold him, but probably. The car kept going faster and faster. When you lead the way, the aero works pretty decent compared to when you follow someone. At the end things went a little bit in our favor. It was a sprint to the end. I can't believe what Corvette Racing did today. Just awesome. Amazing."

#3 Corvette leads #67 Ford GT
#3 Corvette leads #67 Ford GT
Michelin

Magnussen added "I don't even know where to start. What a fantastic race. It was a tough race… a hard race. I mean I am so happy about this. The boys did a great job with the pit stops. Antonio's last stint there was just fantastic. What can you say? It is just fantastic. It was all about running our own race and then at the end when we had to do something, to then be able to do it. The crew – those last couple of pit stops – awesome. As I said Antonio's last stint… just fantastic!"

Mike Rockenfeller was at a loss for words. "It is still hard to believe right now because I didn't expect it. We had a tough race, and Antonio (Garcia) did just a fantastic job – like always. But it is very special what he got out of the car today. That is why I am speechless. I am very happy for the team. Thanks to Corvette and everyone on the teams – all the mechanics. They always believe in it. We had a tough start in Daytona, and even here. We weren't the quickest all the time, but at the end when it counted, we were there. This team is just amazing!"

Joey Hand and co-drivers Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais were seeking a Sebring class win to go along with their titles at Le Mans and Daytona, but were forced to settle for the second step on the podium.

"It's always frustrating to get second," Hand said. "We got beat by a car that was just faster at night. It wasn't from a lack of trying. I threw everything at it. At the risk of running my tires off I went for it and thought that I'd get by and head them off. When it's all said and done, if we can't win this race we want to be thinking about championships. I think it was a good day. You want to have that win to get the three and keep the streak alive. That would have been a fun thing. When it's all said and done, we've won some big races over the last year. I can't be too disappointed.

"I'm just happy…when I'm the last guy in the car, I try not to leave anything out there. No, ‘Man, I should have tried harder.' I gave it all with everything I had. I think we did a good job trying to get what we could get."

Third went to James Calado in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE car, after a last-lap spin by the No. 67 Ford of Richard Westbrook, who was relegated to fourth.

The third Ford, entered by the UK-based WEC team, completed the top-five in class.

Jeroen Bleekemolen in the #33 Mercedes at night
Jeroen Bleekemolen in the #33 Mercedes at night
LAT Photo for IMSA

The No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 was driven to victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday, 60 years after the three pointed star last competed in and won their class America's oldest sports car endurance race. The victory came in just the second race of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing is competing for the first time.

Co-drivers Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mario Farnbacher combined to lead a class-high 208 of the 325 laps they completed in the No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 on their way to a convincing GT Daytona (GTD) class victory.

Bleekemolen took the lead for good 40 minutes from the end of the race and had a more than eight-second gap on the field when the 12-hour time limit was reached.

Second in the GTD class was the team that won Sebring last year, then went on to win the season championship: The No. 63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan and Matteo Cressoni. Third was another Mercedes – the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing car, driven by team principal Kenny Habul, Boris Said and Tristan Vautier. On Friday Vautier qualified the car on the pole – a major accomplishment for a brand-new team in a new car. Early in the race the No. 75 fell back, but rallied at the end for a podium finish.

That third-place trophy almost went to the No. 16 Change Racing/Monster Energy Lamborghini Huracan GT3, but it ran out of gas on the very last lap and ended up 11th in class.

The No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R that won the Rolex 24 finished 10th in class, and was never a factor.

Prototype Challenge class honors went to the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of James French, Pato O'Ward and Kyle Masson, finishing an impressive fifth overall.

QUOTES TOP-3

Ricky Taylor, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac:
"A 1-2-3 for Cadillac is unbelievable," Ricky Taylor said. "To say that a brand-new car out of the box has run 36-hours of racing absolutely flawless, I don't think that has ever happened. It is a testament to Cadillac and all of the development partners it says so much about the brand and serious effort they have brought to sports car racing. The Cadillac is the toughest cars to beat. The Mustang Sampling and Whelen cars are fast. I am sure they are going to bring it at Long Beach."

Jordan Taylor, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac:
"It was a great run," Jordan Taylor said. "It is more proof that this platform is great. We've run 36 hours of racing without a single problem. It is great to have Konica Minolta in victory lane again and to celebrate that with Ricky and Alex is really special."

Alex Lynn, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac:
"It is absolutely unbelievable. I am at a loss for words to describe it. Jordan and Ricky are amazing teammates they drove an awesome race today. The team was flawless. It is 36 hours of zero problems for Cadillac on the race track. The team has won the two biggest races in America and a podium sweep for Cadillac. Great result for all concerned."

Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
"I am really proud of the Mustang Sampling Cadillac team," Barbosa said. "It is a great sweep of the podium for Cadillac. We have some work to do. We just missing a little bit when the conditions changed from hot to cool. I think were we have to work the most is with our fueling. We were not able to use all of the fuel, so we need to look at that aspect. Second is a great result for the team. I am very proud of our whole team."

Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
"Another strong run by the Mustang Sampling team," Fittipaldi said. "The team put in a lot prep time and lot of work all week. The Cadillac ran flawlessly the whole race. No mechanical problems in the 24 or the 12 hour here today. I thinks that sets the tone for the rest of the season. Unfortunately we got beat. Hats off to the No. 10 Cadillac. They did a good job from the afternoon to the end of the race. After the first four hours they just seemed to get stronger and stronger. We will celebrate, turn the page and move onto Long Beach."

Filipe Albuquerque, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
"In the end we need to be happy today with our result," Albuquerque said. "We ran a good race. We made no real mistakes. We led a lot of the race. When it was getting cooler, the No. 10 Cadillac just came alive. We could not match their pace. I was doing qualifying lap times to not lose too much. They just had a little bit more today. They deserve the win. We just need to work, work and close the gap at Long Beach."

Eric Curran, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R:
"It is nice to Cadillac 1-2-3 here at Sebring," Curran said. "Obviously the Cadillac has shown good pace and great reliability early in the season. I got tangled up with the 22 car at the beginning and unfortunately lost a bunch of laps. We fought back and got within a couple of laps at the end and get up on the podium. Our luck is going to get better on the Whelen side. We are looking to be really strong at Long Beach."

Dane Cameron, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R:
"Certainly good to recover from laps down at the beginning," Cameron said. "It is good to celebrate on the podium after a tough Daytona. Also nice to get some points. We have some work to do as a team to get up to the other guys. We will start into the sprint races and see what happens."

Mike Conway, No. 31Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R:
"It is good to help Cadillac sweep the podium. We would have liked to been in the fight all the way through. We fought back, regained some laps, but not enough in the end. When the 10 car pitted early that cost us the opportunity to get back on the lead lap. A great job by the Whelen team and Cadillac today. I will rejoin the team in October at Petit Le Mans. I wish he guys all the luck and hopefully Cadillac can keep on winning."

Final Results

Pos Pic No. Class Drivers Car Laps Gap (laps Secs)
1 1 10 P R. Taylor/J. Taylor/A. Lynn Cadillac DPi 348 0 Laps 0.000s
2 2 5 P J. Barbosa/C. FittipaldiF. Albuquerque Cadillac DPi 348 0 Laps 13.614s
3 3 31 P D. Cameron/E. Curran/M. Conway Cadillac DPi 346 2 Laps 2 Laps
4 4 85 P C. Miller/S. Simpson/M. Goikhberg ORECA 344 4 Laps 2 Laps
5 1 38 PC J. French/P. O'Ward/K. Masson ORECA FLM09 338 10 Laps 6 Laps
6 2 8 PC G. Grist/M. Hanratty/S. Rayhall ORECA FLM09 336 12 Laps 2 Laps
7 1 3 GTLM A. Garcia/J. MagnussenM. Rockenfeller Chevrolet Corvette C7.R 334 14 Laps 2 Laps
8 2 66 GTLM D. Mueller/J. Hand/S. Bourdais Ford GT 334 14 Laps 4.453
9 3 62 GTLM T. Vilander/J. Calado/G. Fisichella Ferrari 488 GTE 334 14 Laps 9.090
10 4 67 GTLM R. Briscoe/R. Westbrook/S. Dixon Ford GT 334 14 Laps 7.561
11 5 68 GTLM S. Mucke/O. Pla/B. Johnson Ford GT 334 14 Laps 27.416
12 6 25 GTLM B. Auberlen/A. Sims/K. Wittmer BMW M6 GTLM 334 14 Laps 29.771
13 7 911 GTLM P. Pilet/D. Werner/F. Makowiecki Porsche 911 RSR 334 14 Laps 17.291
14 8 912 GTLM K. Estre/L. Vanthoor/R. Lietz Porsche 911 RSR 332 16 Laps 2 Laps
15 3 26 PC Drumwright/Ducote/Yacaman/Thompson ORECA FLM09 328 20 Laps 4 Laps
16 1 33 GTD B. Keating/J. BleekemolenM. Farnbacher Mercedes-AMG GT3 325 23 Laps 3 Laps
17 2 63 GTD C. Nielsen/A. Balzan/M. Cressoni Ferrari 488 GT3 324 24 Laps 1 Laps
18 3 75 GTD T. Vautier/K. Habul/B. Said Mercedes-AMG GT3 324 24 Laps 3.781
19 4 29 GTD C. De Phillippi/C. Mies/J. Gounon Audi R8 LMS GT3 324 24 Laps 1.581
20 5 48 GTD B. Sellers/M. Snow/D. von Moltke Lamborghini Huracan GT3 324 24 Laps 1.518
21 6 73 GTD Lindsey/Bergmeister/McMurry/Heylen Porsche 911 GT3 R 324 24 Laps 16.881
22 7 57 GTD L. Aschenbach/M. Bell/A. Davis Audi R8 LMS GT3 324 24 Laps 14.720
23 8 86 GTD J. Segal/O. Negri Jr./T. Dyer Acura NSX GT3 324 24 Laps 1.063
24 9 11 GTD Engelhart/Ineichen/Antinucci/Bortolotti Lamborghini Huracan GT3 323 25 Laps 1 Laps
25 10 28 GTD de Quesada/Morad/Pumpelly/Christensen Porsche 911 GT3 R 323 25 Laps 2:13.155
26 11 16 GTD C. Lewis/J. Mul/B. Sandberg Lamborghini Huracan GT3 322 26 Laps 1 Laps
27 12 46 GTD E. Busnelli/F. Babini/M. BerettaE. Collard Lamborghini Huracan GT3 322 26 Laps 5:06.480
28 13 15 GTD R. Alon/J. Hawksworth/A. Cindric Lexus RCF GT3 320 28 Laps 2 Laps
29 5 55 P T. Nunez/J. Bomarito/S. Pigot Mazda DPi 319 29 Laps 1 Laps
30 14 93 GTD A. Lally/K. Legge/M. Wilkins Acura NSX GT3 318 30 Laps 1 Laps
31 15 23 GTD B. Sweedler/T. Bell/F. Montecalvo Audi R8 LMS GT3 309 39 Laps 9 Laps
32 4 20 PC D. Yount/B. Rice/D. BurkettM. Kvamme ORECA FLM09 302 46 Laps 7 Laps
33 16 54 GTD J. Bennett/C. Braun/N. Jonsson Porsche 911 GT3 R 283 Not Running
34 17 18 GTD E. Anassis/B. Gdovic/A. Massari Lamborghini Huracan GT3 282 66 Laps 1 Laps
35 18 14 GTD S. Pruett/S. Karam/I. James Lexus RCF GT3 269 79 Laps 13 Laps
36 19 27 GTD C. Sbirrazzuoli/P. Ruberti/L. Persiani Lamborghini Huracan GT3 255 93 Laps 14 Laps
37 6 90 P M. Goossens/R. Van Der ZandeR. Rast Multimatic/Riley 241 107 Laps 14 Laps
38 20 96 GTD J. Marks/J. Klingmann/J. Krohn BMW M6 GT3 228 120 Laps 13 Laps
39 7 52 P M. Guasch/J. GutierrezT. Kimber-Smith Ligier 205 Not Running
40 8 70 P T. Long/J. Miller/M. Franchitti Mazda DPi 180 Not Running
41 9 13 P S. Buemi/N. Heidfeld/N. Jani ORECA 167 181 Laps 13 Laps
42 10 22 P Brown/van Overbeek/Senna/Hartley Nissan DPi 158 Not Running
43 9 24 GTLM J. Edwards/M. Tomczyk/N. Catsburg BMW M6 GTLM 149 Not Running
44 21 50 GTD MacNeil/Jeannette/Van Gisbergen Mercedes-AMG GT3 132 Not Running
45 11 2 P S. Sharp/R. Dalziel/L. Derani Nissan DPi 47 Not Running
46 10 4 GTLM O. Gavin/T. Milner/M. Fassler Chevrolet Corvette C7.R 42 Not Running

Leave a Reply