It was ‘okay’ Sebring 2015

In a world of motorsport in which every single race has to be better than the last, stronger than every other series and “the best ever”. Every now and again, particularly in the annual races that dominate our sport. We have to see the bigger picture and think actually a race was simply ‘okay’ sometimes.

That is exactly how I see Sebring 2015; it wasn’t the finest race at Sebring ever. However compared to last years Twelve Hours of Sebring. Simply being an okay race isn’t a bad thing. The balance of performance was far improved, although it was somewhat offset  by the issues of several competitors in the ‘Prototype’ class which ultimately led to a domination in the overall standings in the prototype standings by Corvette DP’s.

Action-Express racing’s Sebastian Bourdais, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi didn’t dominate proceedings throughout the entire race, however in the closing hours, put in a fantastic performance, which saw Bourdais lap the entire field,  and maintain it, against identical Corvette DP’s. In my opinion, that should be applauded.

I agree, it didn’t create the best racing for several hours of the race, however it did show that a team on a strong day can strongly out-perform every other car out on track, even if it is identical in manufacturer to other machinery on the grid.

The P2 challengers had the pace. The question of Balance of Performance in my opinion is resolved following Sebring and Daytona. The problems the P2 challengers faced at both rounds of the championship thus far have been self-inflicted, and no amount of Balance of performance changes, will affect that.

Krohn’s Ligier was on pole and during the race at the hands of Olivier pla at the start of the race, was untouchable with regards its pace. Even when the team was on the backfoot and several laps down later in the race. Once Olivier Pla was back in the car, he was still lapping faster than the majority of the field. If things had turned out differently with Tracy Krohn behind the wheel of his eponymous teams entrant, we could well of been celebrating a Krohn P2 victory today.

Things didn’t go well for the Mike Shank Racing team’s Ligier, and thankfully Ozz Negri was uninjured however a large shunt for Negri put them out the race early on. Leaving the P2 cars effectively in the hands of ESM. Despite impressive stints, the reliability of the two HPD’s was simply not available for ESM, after dusting off the HPD 03b’s hours before the weekend got under way, leading to a double retirement.

Ganassi had a tough weekend, the Ford-Riley wasn’t on the pace from the start this weekend, a combination of good reliability and fuel saving by Dixon put them in relative contention until the closing hours, when the importance of pace, and a poor pit stop, put them further down the order.

The PC class, compared to the frustration in last year’s race over driving standards, was a much improved affair. creating some very strong racing, congratulations to PR1 Motorsports on the class victory, whilst friend of FBC Conor Daly put in a fantastic drive, on his debut at Sebring, alongside teammates Jerome Mee and James French to come home third in class at the end of the race, a stellar performance by the Sebring 12 hour rookies.

The strongest manufacturer for most of the GTLM race was Porsche, both with the CORE run Porsche North America GT team, as well as with the Falken tire entrant, it did seem until the very closing stages, that Porsche would get the redemption the team needed after what can only be described as an embarrassing ending to the Rolex24.

Unfortunately it all went rather wrong for Porsche in the closing stages, the #912 having a horrendous pitstop which resulted in a wheel, unable to be fitted properly, effectively ending the day. Within minutes after losing one car, Tandy whilst driving the #911 reported gearbox issues, bringing an end to what had been one of Porsche’s strongest days and opening the day for the reward to come to the #3 Corvette Racing entrant, leading to Corvette victories in both Prototype and GTLM, as well as a FLM 09, being powered by GM.

GTD in my mind, was the star of the race, whilst the rest the classes overall raced well, even strong at times, the battle in GTD was my favourite, between the Riley Technologies Viper and Alex Job Racing’s Team Seattle #23 entry with the occasional challenge from TRG’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage. I love how in Endurance racing, we can get a twelve hour long battle between teams, and the respect being them being high, even at the end.

The race came down to the final minutes, with Mario Farnbacher bringing the battle-scared 911 through the final stint, having lost it’s rear bumper and suffered a puncture earlier in the race. Riley’s Bleekemolen who was chasing Farnbacher, took the lead when Farnbacher went way off the track. The Viper then suffered mechanical issues, which led to an emotional, well deserved victory by Ian James, Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas in the class.

Given the quality of racing in GTD with it’s highly modified GTD specification we get now, I for one can not wait to see the full GT3 spec cars the series is bringing next year which is going to be another huge leap forwards for IMSA.

So yeah overall Sebring 2015, was an okay race, probably not one that in the future history of Sebring, the world will look back on and think 2015 was a great race, because it wasn’t. However from the position and the thoughts of last year, which was one of frustration and anger at the USA’s premier sports car series, to now, The positives should be clear to see.I know the two fanbases of the two former series are still entrenched and no matter what anyone says, that is going to take a lot of time to heal, personally I followed both series, so feel a little awkward in that.

I do however know what we have now is technically incomparable to the days when LMP1 dominated the landscape of Sportscar racing in North America and I aren’t going to dispute that. However what we have now isn’t bad and it’s constantly improving. Right now in 2015, we have to give it a chance as fans, the series is doing all it can to improve. After Sebring last year I wouldn’t of blamed anyone for wanting to forget TUSCC existed, but now I would say stay, wait and watch.

I want to finish this by saying get well soon to the crew member who was sadly hit by the BAR1 Motorsports PC entry, during a pitstop release. He was reported to be ok during the broadcast.


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