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IMSA Sebring 12 Hours: AXR Cadillac wins after wild, late-race GTP pile-up

Action Express Racing won the 2023 12 Hours of Sebring for Cadillac, after a late-race, multi-car crash took out all three leaders in the new GTP class in the closing minutes.

#31 Action Express Racing, Cadillac DPi, GTP: Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims, Jack Aitken, #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz

Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Apart from a pitlane speeding penalty, the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura of Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Louis Deletraz had a seemingly comfortable race until a series of late restarts embroiled them in a battle with the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport car of Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy and Dane Cameron.

Albuquerque and Jaminet were battling for the win in the darkness when they came across GTD traffic in the closing minutes, and they took each other out – with the second Penske Porsche of Felipe Nasr piling into the accident and removing the top three cars in an instant.

That left the door open for the #31 AXR Cadillac of Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken to steal the victory, Derani taking his fourth overall win at Sebring.

GTP

In a race of fluctuating fortunes, the lead had ebbed and flowed in the early stages between the Cadillacs of Action Express Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing, and the Acura of WTR with Andretti Autosport for much of the event – with all striking some form of drama.

The #31 AXR car had to bounce back from an early collision with an LMP3 car, which required multiple pitstops to fix the nose section and left-side mirror. The #01 CGR entry suffered two spins, which handed the advantage to the WTR Acura.

Taylor got a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane with just over four hours to go, which meant all three of the fastest cars were sent to the tail of the field at some point.

With three hours to go, Sebastien Bourdais pitted from the lead with his CGR Cadillac on fire. Another frontrunner, the Rolex 24 Hours-winning Meyer Shank Racing Acura, was in the mix going into the last couple of hours until a left-rear wheel parted company when Tom Blomqvist was aboard.

With 75 minutes to go, the biggest challenger to WTR suddenly became the pair of Porsche 963s of Nasr and Jaminet, the latter passing the AXR Caddy of Aitken, which had been suffering from a refuelling issue, soon after a restart for third.

The #7 Porsche enjoyed the cleanest race of all the GTP cars until it was struck by a late penalty for the team working on the car outside of its pit box, while the #6 car bounced back from hitting a GTD car, getting smashed by an LMP3 car under yellow and another bizarre issue early on that caused steam to fill the cockpit.

At a restart with under an hour to go, Jaminet passed Nasr for second and then attacked Albuquerque for the lead. Jaminet passed him with a wild move that saw them rub wheels, only for Albuquerque to lunge and barge him off the track a few corners later to reclaim the top spot.

Aitken stayed out to pick up the lead with 32 minutes to go, ahead of Jaminet – who beat Albuquerque out of the pits. Jaminet repeated his move from earlier, this time to take the lead from Aitken, while Albuquerque biffed Aitken wide. Albuquerque, Nasr and Aitken ran three-wide to Turn 1, with Albuquerque forcing his way into second.

Jaminet leapt ahead by 1.2 seconds but as the leaders hit a knot of traffic, the delayed Jaminet and Albuquerque collided, with the WTR car slamming into the barrier on the inside and rejoining the track, out of control, at Turn 3, ramming Jaminet who was simultaneously colliding with a GTD car. Nasr then arrived and slammed into Albuquerque and Jaminet, flying over the top of his team-mate. All drivers were unhurt.

Aitken picked his way through the chaos, taking the lead ahead of the #25 BMW of Nick Yelloly, Sheldon van der Linde and Connor de Phillippi – the sole remaining GTP car.

The race restarted with four minutes to go, with Aitken cruising home ahead of Yelloly.

#8 Tower Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07: John Farano, Scott McLaughlin, Kyffin Simpson

#8 Tower Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07: John Farano, Scott McLaughlin, Kyffin Simpson

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

LMP2

Ben Keating (PR1 Mathiasen ORECA) starred in the opening stages, but his #52 car fell back as the #04 Crowdstrike by APR machine surged to the front. After its heartache over losing a Rolex 24 win in the final yards, things looked grim for that car when George Kurtz caused the second yellow of the race with a spin, and Ben Hanley suffered a further scare when he spun at Sunset Bend a few hours later.

One of its chief rivals, the #8 Tower Motorsports car of Scott McLaughlin, John Farano and Kyffin Simpson suffered a blow when the latter shunted at the exit of Turn 1. Simpson was able to drag it back to the pits, keeping it in the hunt for victory.

IndyCar star McLaughlin then tore his way to the front at the final restart, beating Jensen home by just 0.834s, ahead of the #18 Era Motorsport car of Christian Rasmussen, Ryan Dalziel and Dwight Merriman, the #52 brought home by Paul-Loup Chatain, while the #04 Crowdstrike car slumped to fifth for yet more late-race disappointment.

LMP3

This class started with a bang as Lance Willsey spun his #33 LMP3 Ligier at Turn 1 and had 28 GTD cars avoid him as he sat stranded in the middle of the track. Glenn van Barlo (#36 Andretti Autosport) led initially, before the #85 JDC Miller Motorsport of Dan Goldburg took over.

As the race wore on, the #30 JR III Ligier of Dakota Dickerson, Ari Balough and Garett Grist took command of the class, ahead of the #74 Riley car of Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Josh Burdon. But the #30 was agonizingly taken out by a wheel that flew off Pietro Fittipaldi’s P2 car with just 75 minutes to go.

That allowed the #74 car free passage to the victory, and it won by a lap.

#9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R: Klaus Bachler, Patrick Pilet, Laurens Vanthoor

#9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R: Klaus Bachler, Patrick Pilet, Laurens Vanthoor

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

GTD / GTD Pro

After the chaos of Turn 1, where the pack found Willsey’s car stranded in the middle of the circuit on the racing line, GTD Pro began as a duel between the factory driver-stacked #3 Corvette Racing C8.R of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Tommy Milner, and #79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes of Daniel Juncadella, Jules Gounon and Maro Engel.

But with just under four hours remaining, the Corvette suffered a left-rear damper issue which took it out of the lead and put it a lap down.

That opened the door for the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche team, whose 911 was shunted in qualifying by Sebring novice Klaus Bachler. After an all-nighter, and a near-miss with the spinning LMP3 car which almost ended its race at the first corner, Bachler and Laurens Vanthoor and Patrick Pilet stormed through the field to get in front of the Mercedes.

The #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus was always in the mix, and thanks to the series of late cautions, Garcia was suddenly back in contention having got his lap back – until he was taken out in the chaotic GTP crash near the finish.

Pilet pulled away in the closing stages, finishing ahead of Jack Hawksworth’s Lexus by 2.7s and Juncadella in the Merc.

The non-Pro GTD class was won by the #1 Paul Miller Racing BMW of Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis, which was chased home by the #96 version of Patrick Gallagher, Robby Foley and Michael Dinan.

IMSA Sebring 12 Hours - Race results

Pos  Driver   Car / Engine   Laps   Time 
31 Pipo Derani
Alexander Sims
Jack Aitken
Cadillac 322 12:00'53.382
25 C.De Phillippi
Nick Yelloly
S.van der Linde
BMW 322 12:00'56.322
8 John Farano
Scott McLaughlin
Kyffin Simpson
ORECA/Gibson 318 12:01'04.233
11 Steven Thomas
Mikkel Jensen
Scott Huffaker
ORECA/Gibson 318 12:01'05.067
18 Dwight Merriman
Ryan Dalziel
C.Rasmussen
ORECA/Gibson 318 12:01'07.555
52 Ben Keating
Paul-Loup Chatin
Alex Quinn
ORECA/Gibson 318 12:01'10.982
04 George Kurtz
Ben Hanley
Nolan Siegel
ORECA/Gibson 318 12:01'19.724
20 Dennis Andersen
Ed Jones
Anders Fjordbach
ORECA/Gibson 317 12:01'13.412
6 Nick Tandy
Mathieu Jaminet
Dane Cameron
Porsche 315 11:40'32.254
10  10 Ricky Taylor
F.Albuquerque
Louis Delétraz
Acura 315 11:40'32.827
11  7 Matt Campbell
Felipe Nasr
M.Christensen
Porsche 315 11:40'33.304
12  74 Gar Robinson
Felipe Fraga
Josh Burdon
Ligier/Nissan 309 12:01'26.055
13  13 Orey Fidani
Matthew Bell
Lars Kern
Duqueine/Nissan 308 12:01'27.656
14  85 T.Bechtolsheimer
T.van der Helm
Daniel Goldburg
Duqueine/Nissan 308 12:01'29.096
15  17 Anthony Mantella
Wayne Boyd
Nico Varrone
Duqueine/Nissan 307 12:01'29.921
16  4 Seth Lucas
Tonis Kasemets
Trenton Estep
Ligier/Nissan 306 12:02'23.809
17  9 Klaus Bachler
Patrick Pilet
Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 303 12:01'46.119
18  14 Jack Hawksworth
Ben Barnicoat
Kyle Kirkwood
Lexus 303 12:01'48.825
19  79 D.Juncadella
Jules Gounon
Maro Engel
Mercedes 303 12:01'50.447
20  63 Franck Perera
Jordan Pepper
Romain Grosjean
Lamborghini 303 12:01'52.589
21  3 Antonio García
Jordan Taylor
Tommy Milner
Chevrolet 303 12:01'55.768
22  62 Daniel Serra
Davide Rigon
G.Casagrande
Ferrari 303 12:01'57.826
23  95 Bill Auberlen
Chandler Hull
John Edwards
BMW 302 12:02'27.555
24  60 Tom Blomqvist
Colin Braun
H.Castroneves
Acura 301 12:00'57.581
25  1 Bryan Sellers
Madison Snow
Corey Lewis
BMW 301 12:01'48.387
26  96 P.Gallagher
Robby Foley
Michael Dinan
BMW 301 12:01'49.919
27  92 David Brule Sr.
Alec Udell
Julien Andlauer
Porsche 301 12:01'50.217
28  70 Brendan Iribe
F.Schandorff
Ollie Millroy
McLaren 301 12:01'50.849
29  12 F.Montecalvo
Aaron Telitz
Parker Thompson
Lexus 301 12:01'51.485
30  16 Ryan Hardwick
Jan Heylen
Z.Robichon
Porsche 301 12:01'54.341
31  91 Alan Metni
Kay van Berlo
Jaxon Evans
Porsche 301 12:01'54.801
32  77 A.Brynjolfsson
Trent Hindman
Maxwell Root
Porsche 301 12:01'57.393
33  44 John Potter
Andy Lally
Spencer Pumpelly
Aston Martin 301 12:02'01.383
34  32 Mike Skeen
Mikaël Grenier
Kenton Koch
Mercedes 301 12:02'02.164
35  83 Rahel Frey
Sarah Bovy
Michelle Gatting
Lamborghini 300 12:02'03.115
36  66 Sheena Monk
Katherine Legge
Marc Miller
Acura 298 12:02'02.692
37  23 Ross Gunn
Alex Riberas
David Pittard
Aston Martin 297 12:01'57.098
38  21 Simon Mann
Miguel Molina
F.Castellacci
Ferrari 294 12:01'55.449
39  38 Chris Allen
Robert Mau
Tristan Nunez
Ligier/Nissan 293 12:01'34.981
40  47 Roberto Lacorte
G.Sernagiotto
Antonio Fuoco
Ferrari 290 12:01'56.169
41  51 Eric Lux
D.Defrancesco
P.Fittipaldi
ORECA/Gibson 289 10:43'57.310
42  27 Roman De Angelis
Marco Sørensen
Ian James
Aston Martin 287 11:28'00.311
43  80 PJ Hyett
Seb Priaulx
Gunnar Jeannette
Porsche 285 12:02'31.197
44  33 Lance Willsey
João Barbosa
Nico Pino
Ligier/Nissan 283 12:01'30.934
45  30 Ari Balogh
Garett Grist
Dakota Dickerson
Ligier/Nissan 282 10:49'16.803
46  78 Misha Goikhberg
Loris Spinelli
Benja Hites
Lamborghini 279 11:04'16.315
47  01 S.Bourdais
R.van der Zande
Scott Dixon
Cadillac 241 8:51'13.123
48  36 Jarett Andretti
Gabby Chaves
Glenn van Berlo
Ligier/Nissan 230 8:51'41.792
49  57 Russell Ward
Philip Ellis
Indy Dontje
Mercedes 198 7:50'23.316
50  93 Ashton Harrison
Danny Formal
Kyle Marcelli
Acura 186 7:23'07.817
51  24 Philipp Eng
Augusto Farfus
Marco Wittmann
BMW 172 6:09'46.607
52  35 François Heriau
G.van der Garde
Josh Pierson
ORECA/Gibson 132 4:50'07.155
53  023 Onofrio Triarsi
Charles Scardina
Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 95 4:47'48.246

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