The Sebring 12 Hours is the oldest and toughest sports car race in the USA. Three Porsche 911 RSR will tackle the GTLM class at the 63rd running of the prestigious classic contested on the Sebring International Raceway on 21 March. For the Porsche North America works team and the Falken Tire customer squad, eight works drivers will do their utmost to repeat Porsche’s win from last year on the airfield circuit in the heart of Florida, which is notorious for its bumpy surface. With 18 overall victories and 67 class wins, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Sebring 12 hour race.
The Sebring International Raceway hosted the inaugural race on 31 December 1950. Built on a former airfield, the circuit with its 17 corners is 5.954 kilometres long. Immortalised on the winners’ list are racing legends like Juan Manuel Fangio, Dan Gurney, Hans Hermann, Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti. Hollywood stars Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, who finished second overall in 1970 with a Porsche 908, have also fulfilled their racing dreams in Sebring.
Six Porsche factory pilots compete for Porsche North America in Sebring. Sharing the cockpit of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR are Patrick Pilet (France), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain). Last year’s winners Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) as well as Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) share driving duties in the number 912 vehicle. Tackling the race for the Falken Tire customer outfit are the Porsche works drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), reinforced by Bryan Sellers (USA). Porsche Junior Connor de Phillippi (USA) contests the GTD class at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT America fielded by Muehlner Motorsports.
The Porsche vehicles
The Porsche 911 RSR and the Porsche 911 GT America, which are run in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, are based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. As the successor to the winning 911 GT3 RSR, the 470 hp 911 RSR last season scored victories at America’s most prestigious long-distance classics in Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans. For 2015, the winning racer from Weissach has received improvements in many areas. The Porsche 911 GT America, built specifically for the GTD class of the 2014-inaugurated Tudor United SportsCar Championship, features a four-litre, six-cylinder engine and also produces 470 hp. The vehicle is an improved version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, the most successful and widely-produced race car in the world.
The first outright victory for Porsche in Sebring came in 1960 courtesy of Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien in the Porsche 718 RS/60; the most recent in 2008 was clinched by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard with the Porsche RS Spyder. Porsche’s list of successes also includes no less than 67 class wins at this race. The most recent success was last year with Jörg Bergmeister, Michael Christensen and Patrick Long at the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR.
The 12 Hours of Sebring takes off on Saturday, 21 March, at 10.45 hrs local time (16.45 hrs CET) and can be viewed live in the Internet on www.imsa.com as well as on the motorsport channel Motors TV.
Comments before the race
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “After Daytona, Sebring is the second great long distance classic on the Tudor United SportsCar Championship calendar. Although the race is only half the duration of Daytona, it is almost tougher because of the very demanding and bumpy track.”
Patrick Pilet (#911): “Sebring is a very special race on a very special circuit. It’s always a hard fight for victory and the avid fans give the whole event a fantastic ambience.”Nick Tandy (#911): “It’s always a highlight to compete in Sebring, regardless in which series you compete for the rest of the year. On this storied track you truly breathe sports car history and that fascinates me.”
Richard Lietz (#911): “Sebring is a race that throws extremes at you. You can’t afford to make the slightest error – if you do you have no chance.” Earl Bamber (#912): “It didn’t go so well for us at Daytona, so now I’m hoping we can make up lost ground in the championship at Sebring.”
Jörg Bergmeister (#912): “Sebring is a real classic. To drive at the limit on this bumpy track takes everything from a driver. But it’s always huge fun.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (#912): “At Daytona we weren’t able to really underline the potential of the 911 RSR over the whole distance. Now I’m hoping we can do this in Sebring and fight for victory.”
Wolf Henzler (#17): “Last year Sebring was the first race with the 911 RSR for my Falken Tire team. Since then we’ve won Petit Le Mans and now I reckon our chances for victory in Sebring look good as well.”
Patrick Long (#17): “Even though I’m concentrating on my WEC campaign with Patrick Dempsey, I’m looking forward to the chance of supporting Wolf and Bryan in Sebring.”
This is the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
The Tudor United SportsCar Championship is a new sports car race series contested in the USA and Canada which was run in 2014 for the first time. The series was formed from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), P (Prototype) and PC (Prototype Challenge). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, with the Porsche 911 GT America contesting the GTD class.