2015 Tudor USCC: 12 Hours of Sebring preview
It’s been 55 days since the 24 Hours of Daytona – round one of the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship – came to a close. However, the wait for the second race of the US endurance season is over with the 12 Hours of Sebring bursting into life this weekend.
One of the three monuments of American endurance racing (alongside Daytona and Petit Le Mans), the 12 Hours of Sebring is the oldest endurance race in the USA, with 2015 marking the 63rd running of the prestigious event.
It may be half the duration of the season-opener in Daytona but Sebring is arguably the tougher event thanks to the tortuously bumpy nature of the latter’s 3.74-mile circuit run.
An ex-US Air Force bomber base, the track at Sebring still retains nearly a mile of concrete. Across its demanding 17 corners, Sebring International Raceway is a true car-breaker, often used by manufacturer race teams to test reliability during the winter break.
Porsche North America Racing squad continued their winning start to 2014 at last year’s 12 Hours of Sebring, with the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Michael Christensen, Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister, taking the chequered flag first.
That victory came off the back of the no. 911 team’s triumph at Daytona yet the factory US Porsche outfit hasn’t reached the top step of the podium since, with a run of bad luck continuing all the way to this year’s running of the 24 Hours of Daytona.
However, talking to Total 911, Nick Tandy – driver of the no. 911 RSR at Sebring alongside Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz – believes “it’s our time to win a race. The law of averages states that it will be our turn to have a good run.”
Tandy is looking to add Sebring to his impressive palmarès (which already includes GT victories at Daytona and Petit Le Mans). As he explains, “Sebring is next on the list for me”. After a successful pre-season test at the Florida venue, the British 911 ace is full of confidence.
His mood will have been boosted by yesterday’s practice times, with the no. 911 Porsche finishing both free practice one and free practice two in second place, both times less than a tenth away from the fastest GTLM time.
The no. 912 RSR of Jörg Bergmeister, Earl Bamber and Frédéric Makowiecki finished FP1 and FP2 in fifth and fourth positions respectively while the Team Falken Porsche 991 RSR wound up third and eighth in the two sessions with Bryan Sellers, Wolf Henzler and Patrick Long on driving duties.
However, as Porsche found at Daytona, speed is not the only attribute needed for success in the USCC. And, with both BMWs and Corvettes in the mix during yesterday’s practice sessions, the works Porsche team will have a tough battle on their hands to retain their Sebring crown.
The 15-minute GTLM qualifying session takes place at 4:45pm ET (8:45 GMT) today, with the 12-hour race getting green-flagged at 10:40am ET (2:45 GMT) tomorrow.
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