Factory drivers Patrick Long (USA), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) have won the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
The victory gives the new Porsche works program wins in both of North America’s premier two sports car racing events; the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and today’s 12 Hours of Sebring. The No. 912 held off a field of factory efforts from the class pole position. However, the race came down to a final 20-minute sprint after a late race caution flag packed the field for a last push to the checkered flag in the second event of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship season. Bergmeister, behind the wheel for the final stint, out-distanced the field to give new Porsche’s 911 RSR victories at the three legendary racetracks of Sebring International Raceway, Daytona International Speedway and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The victory is Bergmeister’s fourth at Sebring and Long’s second. It was a first for Christensen who also scored his first career pole position as a Porsche factory driver this weekend.
The story for the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR was set early in the race. The car raced by Richard Lietz (Austria), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Patrick Pilet (France) was involved in a second-hour incident that damaged the nose of the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning entry. Repairs dropped the car six laps back at the time and to last in the GTLM class. Once back on track the team fought to the close of the 12 hours finishing ninth, four laps behind their race-winning teammates.
Team Falken Tire debuted the first customer Porsche 911 RSR competing in the world with a strong performance. Factory drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Marco Holzer (Germany), joined with Bryan Sellers (USA), ran to fifth in class from their starting position of ninth.
In the GTD class, the Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America outdistanced a strong field of competitors – overcoming a hard hit early in the race – to score the class win courtesy of drivers John Potter (USA), Andy Lally (USA), and Marco Seefried (Germany).This was the first win for the new Porsche 911 GT America, the race car created for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The Alex Job Racing Porsche with Porsche Junior Alex Riberas (Spain) as a driver contended for the win right to the end. He finished third.
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “A really amazing race, like Sebring always is. Having a top podium finish in both GT classes is tremendous. The guys in the No. 911 car had a little bit of bad luck but otherwise everybody worked without any mistakes. With two wins this early with these kind of races and that kind of competition that is absolutely fabulous. It actually shows that our Junior Program is really the right thing to do with Michael Christensen being in GTLM in the winning car and Porsche Junior Alex Riberas in the GTD car. It is absolutely great.”
Patrick Long: “Last night, we were here until well after the dinner hour and our mechanics asked why? I said because we are here to win. This morning we showed up this morning said the same thing. We had a plan and we stuck to it. That plan was to convert Michael’s awesome qualifying into a lead for the opening stint. We knew we didn’t have anything for them in the daylight but once the sun went down the race was going to start. We were able to execute.”
Michael Christensen: “It’s amazing. To have the strong team like I have it is amazing to be a part of. I cannot be more happy than I am right now. It is just a great feeling that everything came together to make this happen.”
Joerg Bergmeister: “I was just telling myself ‘don’t mess it up’ those last laps. At first I pushed fairly hard and the car was really good. But, when I heard there was just five minutes to go I took some pace out and just tried to control it. I didn’t want to mess it up for these guys. Patrick always says I am good at night and I am just happy that it did work out.”
Nick Tandy: “Obviously we are disappointed in the result but there is a lot of positive to take out of it. The team car ran very well. The team scored another victory. It is excellent. It goes to show the capability of both the cars. Secondly, after we got over the issues we had at the start of the race, the race pace of our car was very good. There are positives to take out of it. We still have two good point scoring finishes for the championship and we will take it on to the next one at Long Beach.”
Richard Lietz: “We had a lot of bad luck. The car was really good which makes me confident for the next races. You have bad races some times and this was just one of those days. You have to accept this and keep working for Long Beach.”
Patrick Pilet: “I was just P2 behind the Ferrari and I was behind an LMPC and he just spun in front of me, I couldn’t’ avoid the contact. I just touched him on the side but he broke the front bumper and we had to fix it and lost five laps. We never got the wave by at the right time. The car was working good but we just had bad luck today.”
Wolf Henzler: “We didn’t have much time to test, so we were not on pace for qualifying, but the race was a different story. The car was perfect, and the crew was great on pit stops. All the drivers did a great job and we were on our way to a podium until we had bad luck on the timing of the last pit stop, and lost track position. Overall, we are very pleased, and, considering we did not run at Daytona, we learned a lot for the next event.”
Marco Holzer: “For a brand new car that had never raced, we were able to turn very consistent laps all day, and deserved better than a fifth place. The timing of the last yellow flag was bad luck, but I am very happy with a fifth place finish. I look forward to working with Falken again at Petit Le Mans,”
1. Christensen/Long/Bergmeister (DK/USA/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 286 laps
2. Bomarito/Bell/Wittmer (USA/GB/CAN), Viper GTS-R, 286
3. Priaulx/Auberlen/Hand (GB/USA/USA), BMW Z4 GTE, 286
4. Bertolini/Krohn/Jonsson (I/USA/S), Ferrari F458 Italia, 286
5. Henzler/Sellers/Holzer (D/USA/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 285
6. Gavin/Milner/Liddell (GB/USA/GB), Chevrolet Corvette, 285
9. Lietz/Tandy/Pilet (A/GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 282
1. Lally/Potter/Seefried (USA/USA/D), Porsche 911 GT America, 278 laps
2. Bell/Sweedler/Mediani/Segal (GB/USA/I/USA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 278
3. Riberas/Farnbacher/James (E/D/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 278
4. McNeil/Keen/Frommenwiler (USA/USA/CH), Porsche 911 GT America, 278
5. Albuquerque/Neiman/von Moltke (P/USA/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 278
6. Mies/Putman/Espenlaub (D/USA/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 278
Round 3 of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship will take place on April 12 on the street circuit in Long Beach, California.