Mid Race Update

The 12 Hours of Sebring began with the first 40 minutes run behind the safety car in an attempt to get the track dry. Air jets also circulated as the cars drove laps as the clock started.

There were three dry hours which ended a few minutes ago with a brief shower. The last two hours have a wet forecast.

The race is under yellow for an accident involving Johnathan Bomarito in the 55 Mazda DPi. This is the third caution of the race.

Action Express Leads

The 31 Action Express currently leads with Pipo Derani driving. Penske Acura cars run  5th with Ricky Taylor in the 7 and 9th with Simon Pagenaud.

In GTLM, the Ganassi Ford number 67 with Scott Dixon leads and the 66 is second with Joey Hand.

Felipe Farga in the number 33 Mercedes lead GTD.

The LMP2 leader is Cameron Cassells.

Back with a quick summary after the race.

 

 

Toyota, Alonso Win; Wet 12 Hours of Sebring Next

Good morning from a very wet and rainy Sebring Raceway. The forecast calls for rain most of the day.

Late last night the first WEC 1000 miles of Sebring concluded in the rain. The yellow at the end didn’t change the outcome. The number 8 Toyota Gazoo, co driven by Fernando Alonso, won by a two lap margin over the team’s second car. The third place car was five laps down.

This is the second straight Weather Tech Championship race that will be affected by rain. We’ll see what happens. Hope to have a mid race update this afternoon.

The race will start on CNBC then switch to NBCSN at 3.

Sebring Update: Alonso Leads Early; Penske Takes 12 Hour Pole

Fernando Alonso and his Toyota Gazoo team have dominated the first 35 minutes of the 1,000 Miles of Sebring. The two car team occupied the front row and began lapping the field very quickly.

Cameron Wins Pole for Penske

The number 6 Penske Acura driven by Fane Cameron won the pole for tomorrow’s  12 Hours of Sebring. Team Joest car number 77 completes the front row.

In GTLM Porsche 911 won the pole and it’s teammate 912 starts second.In GTD Meyer Shank Racing number 86 will lead the group. The number 57 Shank car starts 6th in clasd.

Full qualifying story tomorrow along with a wrap up of the 1,000 mile race.

Alonso on Pole for Sebring 1,0000

Good morning from Sebring. Last night Fernando Alonso won the pole for tonight ‘s 1,000 mile World Endurance Championship event. He and the other Toyota Gazoo car will start on the front row for the 4 o’clock race. The race has an eight hour time limit if the winner has not completed 1,000 miles.

Qualifying for the 67th 12 hour Sebring race is this morning.

Some Nice Changes

The one lane vehicle bridge in the infield is no more. I was happily surprised to find a 2 lane bridge with a pedestrian walkway on one side.

The track appears to have added some lighting . Not sure is this was a request from WEC .

WEC Paddock the WEC paddock was like

The WEC paddock is like no other I’ve seen. Each car is housed in a large tent. Outside each carsc space is a small pylon showing the teams results for the sesson.

The entry to the paddock has an arch with a changing LED display showing the season’s race results.

Each team has an office across from the car area. It is a temporary rectangular structure of a good size for meetings.

This paddock was quite a contrast from the IMSA area.

Back with a new IMSA update later.

I am unable to post photos.

 

Sebring 2019 – A Two World Show

It’s called Super Sebring. The 67th running of the oldest sportscar race in the United States will also feature a 1,000 mile race featuring the World Endurance Championship series. The WEC cars look similar to the IMSA machines with a similar class structure. Most of the drivers who ran at the Rolex 24 will participate this weekend, although some will be in different cars.

The prime example of a driver switching to not only a different car, but the other series, is Fernando Alonso. Alonso was part of the winning Wayne Taylor Racing entry at Daytona. This weekend he drives for Toyota Gazoo in the WEC, his regular job. Toyota Gazoo is the top team in the WEC.

Indycar newcomer Ben Hanley’s Dragonspeed car will race in the WEC series Friday. Teams are not allowed to participate in both races. Jordan King, who drove the road course schedule for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2018 and will enter the 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, will also drive the WEC event in LMP2 car 37.

Chip Ganassi’s LMGTE Ford entry for Friday has two driver slots listed TBA. There is speculation Ford may leave the GT program at the end of this season.

Indycar Drivers Return to Rolex Teams

Five Indycar regulars who drove in the Rolex 24 return to the same teams for the 67th 12 hours of Sebring. Alexander Rossi will drive car 7 and Simon Pagenaud car 6 for Roger Penske’s Acura team.

Sebastien Bourdais in car 66 and Scott Dixon in 67 again join Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GTLM squad.

Colton Herta will again co drive car 25 for the Rahal BMW team.

Kyle Kaiser again drives for Juncos in car 50.

The Meyer Shank car 57 continues its all female lineup with Katherine Legge, Christina Neilsen, and Ana Beatriz. The team was disappointed this week to learn they did not receive an invitation to Le Mans.

The Disappearing Class

There are just two LMP2 entrants for the 12 hour. The class had just four cars at Daytona. As I wondered then, why does this class exist as a separate group? They qualify with the DPi cars and receive little recognition during the race. IMSA very much wants four classes, but they need to have a plan in place to develop the fourth class.

I am eager to see how this double header weekend works out. It will be interesting to compare the cars of the two series. I expect the WEC cars to be faster, but the IMSA racing to be better.

Watch for Updates Here

I will be posting updates all weekend, beginning with WEC qualifying tomorrow. Some will be quite brief.  I will have my Quick Thoughts column after each race. The WEC race ends at midnight, so look for that column Saturday morning (not early).

On Monday my full weekend wrap-u will be on Wildfire Sports.

Quick Thoughts – Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

A typical St. Pete race- action early then strung out the second half.  That’s not to say there weren’t some interesting things to watch. There was some good racing throughout the pack. It was fun to track the rookies, who did quite well.

Another huge crowd here. I talked to someone who has been to every St. Pete race who said this was the biggest crowd he’d seen.

What a great move by Rosenqvist to pass Power on the restart. He was a thorn in Power’s side all day.

Pit strategy once again determined the winner. Tim Cindric made the right call  by saving the new reds. Early in 2018, he made a couple of good calls on tires as well.

There were fewer cautions than I expected. One more could have changed the results.

Three rookies, Rosenqvist, Colton Herta, and Santino Ferrucci finished in the top 10. Marcus Ericsson ran in the top 10 a while before dropping out with mechanical problems. At COTA, Pato O’Ward joins the rookie crop. The battle for Rookie of the Year could be just as good as the championship fight.

Great drive by Jack Harvey to finish 10th.

Given the engine issues Bourdais and Hunter-Reay had, I hope we’re not seeing the Honda engine of 2017 return.

About a fourth of the cars had non functioning LED panels. I hope this is fixable.

It was great having Robert Wickens at the track. his presence electrified the atmosphere for the paddock and the fans. His absence on the track gives the series one less contender.

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Look for my full race wrap-up on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.

 

It’s Race Day!

Good morning from St. Pete. It is about five hours until race time. Indycar has a 30 minute morning warmup beginning at 9:20. I jus returned from a pace car ride. Several of the turns are tighter than they seem. Turn 7, I believe, is almost a 90 degree hairpin.  Turn 10 isn’t as sweeping as it appears. Brakes will get quite a workout today.

Pit strategy and playing the yellows are the keys to victory. With several fast cars starting toward the rear, we cold see some interesting moves. The first three rows should have quite a battle with five of the potential championship contenders there. The winner heer rarely goes on to win the series title. Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015 was the last St. Pete winner to come close.

It’s amazing that Will Power has won eight of the fifteen poles at this track. That total is one seventh of his career pole wins.  Power just got nipped at the last minute by Robert Wickens last year. The question is, will he be more patient at the start? Last year he spun trying beat Wickens to turn 2.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg television coverage begins with a prerace show at 12:30, followed by the race broadcast on NBCSN.  Enjoy the race.

Back with quick thoughts after the race.