During the night from Saturday to Sunday, Sébastien Bourdais, Tristan Vautier and Loïc Duval won the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring. This is only the second time that a French team has won in 69 editions.
They did it ! Loïc Duval, who had already won here in 2011 (with Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre on a Peugeot 908 HDI FAP) and Sébastien Bourdais, for his part winner in 2015 (with Christian Fittipaldi and João Barbosa on a Corvette), have just entered in the history of American motorsport by winning with Tristan Vautier the 2021 edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring. However, in qualifying as during the first hours of the race, the business seemed badly off. Qualified in 6th position, the Cadillac DPi n ° 5 of the French crew has long sailed at the back of the peloton in the category. Victims of two non-responsible accidents, Duval then Vautier had lost time in the pits for repairs. But the strategy defined by the Mustang Sampling / JDC Miller MotorSports, in combination with a few race facts and penalties, has allowed things to be seen differently over the past two hours. And more particularly in the last hour, when the very experienced Sébastien Bourdais pulled out all the stops. While he was more than one lap late, the driver from Le Mans first approached the leading pack in favor of race neutralizations. With less than 30 minutes from the checkered flag, he not only took the lead in style with panache, but built up a comfortable lead. It was then the experience and talent of the driver from Le Mans that helped lead the team to victory, particularly in view of the umpteenth mishap that occurred in the last quarter of an hour.
For a few loose screws …
While the race seemed to him more and more promised, Bourdais indeed lost the upper part of his rear wing a few laps from the finish, which caused a sudden imbalance of his car. “I was lucky not to go out on turn 17,” he said just after the finish. “I managed to catch up with the car, and as I was ahead of the game, I kept the lead. Then I was well aware that I had lost an aerodynamic part because the behavior of the car had changed, but I did not know which it was. I only found out after getting out of the cockpit. “
If Bourdais handled the situation perfectly, the race should not have lasted much longer. Amputated of part of its aero, the Cadillac of the French indeed gave up a little more than two seconds to the competition during each lap. This earned him several attacks from Harry Tincknell, driver of a Mazda DPi shared with Oliver Jarvis and Jonhatan Bomarito. But Bourdais held on, and will cross the finish line with less than a second and a half ahead of his pursuer! On the 3th on the podium we find another French, Olivier Pla, teammate of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya aboard an Acura DPi. They take advantage of the penalty suffered by another French driver, Simon Pagenaud, who crossed the finish line in 3th position, but had exceeded the authorized driving time per pilot by 50 seconds …
France and Porsche in the spotlight in GT
In the GT Le Mans category, we will note the great victory of Mathieu Jaminet, alongside Cooper MacNeil and Matt Campbell in a Porsche 911 RSR-19 entered by the WeatherTech Racing team. Porsche also won in GTD with the victory of the No. 9 911 GT3 R from Pfaff Motorsports, entrusted to Zacharie Robichon, Laurens Vanthoor and Lars Kern. Two successes that bode well for the German manufacturer, which has the number of “Constructor” victories at Sebring (18). This weekend was also the launch of the new season of the Porsche Carrera Cup, and the world premiere of the 911 GT3 Cup “Type 992”. The German manufacturer’s guest of honor, Tony Ménard, Michelin Motorsport director for North America, kicked off the race. “We are very honored to have been chosen by Porsche to equip both the Carrera Cup cars and the production 911 GT3,” said Ménard. We have designed a tire specifically for this championship, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup N3, and while we are already equipping all IMSA categories and support races, with Porsche we are strengthening our commitment to link performance and technology. “
Note that this 69th The 12 Hours of Sebring was the scene of many new track records. In qualifying or in the race, nine new reference times were thus validated, while the outside temperature, higher than usual, was a potentially complex criterion for the pure performance of the tires.
The next round of the IMSA Championship will be held May 14-16 at the Mid-Ohio Circuit, 75 miles from Columbus, Ohio. It will be a sprint race of 2:40, which should also take place with the public.