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Race report
IMSA Sebring

Sebring 12H: WTR Acura takes early lead, Ganassi pole car in strife

WTR Acura driver Ricky Taylor led the IMSA SportsCar Championship's Sebring 12 Hours after a frantic opening hour in which the polesitting Chip Ganassi Cadillac fell off the lead lap.

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 Acura DPi: Ricky Taylor, Jose Maria Lopez

Taylor brought the #10 Acura ARX-05 to the pits in anticipation of yellow flags when Orey Fidani crashed his #13 Duqueine LMP3 car just before the 30-minute mark.

While Fidani managed to return on track on his own power and the track remained green, the early stop still allowed Taylor to get the jump on reigning IMSA Daytona Prototype international champion Pipo Derani when the Action Express Racing Cadillac driver completed his own pitstop later in the hour.

Derani had inherited the lead on the opening lap when polesitter Sebastien Bourdais slowed down with gearbox problems on his #01 Cadillac DPi V.R, before dropping to the back of the back with an unscheduled pitstop. 

The CGR crew had to take the engine cover off as it diagnosed the issue, dropping Bourdais and team-mates Renger van der Zande and Ryan Hunter-Reay well out of contention just minutes into the race.

The other #02 CGR Cadillac also endured a tough start to the race. Alex Lynn picked up a drive through penalty for overtaking another car under yellows, dropping him to fifth place in the seven-car class.

With both Ganassi cars in trouble, Taylor held a slender lead over Derani in the #31 AXR Cadillac, with Mike Rockenfeller in the enduro-only #48 AXR Cadillac moving up to third after passing the Daytona 24 Hour-winning #60 Meyer Shank Acura of Tom Blomqvist.

The 2021 Sebring-winning JDC-Miller Cadillac driven by Tristan Vautier was the first DPi driver to make a pitstop and was running in sixth place between the two Ganassi Cadillacs.

#63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Marco Mapelli, Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti

#63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Marco Mapelli, Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

In GTD Pro, Mirko Bortolotti put the #63 TR3 Lamborghini at the front after passing the pole-sitting #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari of Daniel Serra 50 minutes into the race.

However, both Serra and Bortolotti pitted soon after, promoting Antonio Garcia in the factory #3 Corvette C8.R to first.

BMW enjoyed a strong opening hour to the race, with both its Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing-entered cars moving up the pack after a frustrating qualifying session. Nick Yelloly was up to second in the #24 M4 GT3, with team-mate Augusto Farfus's #25 entry not far behind in third - although both are expected to fall behind the leading two cars after their pitstops.

BMW led the GTD division at the end of the first hour with new customer Paul Miller Racing. Bryan Sellers led from Ian James in the #27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage.

There was drama for the pole-sitting #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R with Zacharie Robichon having to bring the car behind the wall with differential issues.

Meanwhile in the LMP2 class, Ben Keating dominated the proceedings from pole position, putting the #52 PR1 Mathiasen ORECA 07 well clear of second-placed Henrik Hedman (#81 DragonSpeed) and Dwight Merriman's (#18 Era Motorsport) identical machines.

LMP3 polesitter Gar Robinson (#74 Riley Motorsports) suffered an early spin and dropped to sixth in the class, but remained in class lead by virtue of not pitting in the first hour.

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