Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ganassi Wins Sebring 24 Hour in Debut

SEBRING, FL – The 62nd Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race was a different race this year with nearly half the race run under a yellow flag.  At the top of heap was the Ganassi No. 01 Riley-Ford of Franchitti/Pruett/Rojas with a Roush-Yates Eco-Boost engine. Franchitti clinched the victory when the Tequila Patron HPD ARX-03B/Honda into pit row for a final service with 40 minutes remaining – though the margin of victory was only 4.682 sec over the HPD, the tightest in Sebring history.   The Ganassi win also gives Chip and company the first team to win Sebring, The Rolex 24, the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500.  Quite an impressive feat!  “It’s incredible,” Pruett said. “After all those victories you hope to get, this was still one on my bucket list. I’ve won here in class but never won overall. It’s even more exciting to win it overall, and to win it for Ford both times. I can’t say enough about the Ganassi group. We all worked together as a team and kept digging.” 

The Action Express DP Corvette of Barbosa/Fittipaldi/Bourdais started at the podium and finished third in a strong debut at Sebring.  The Corvette led nearly 1/3 of the race, which is pretty impressive with 11 lead changes in the race.  The team was set for a victory as they were able to conserve fuel allowing them to run one less pit stop than their competitors, but a misplaced caution period dashed their hopes.  "Just before that last caution we were feeling pretty good about our chances,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. "We were running second and had been saving fuel for several hours… That yellow would not have changed things for us had it come out one lap sooner or 3 laps later. It just hit at the worst time for us. When you don't get the breaks and still finish on the podium it shows Action Express is a great team. We congratulate Chip Ganassi and his 01 team for their historic win.”

The GTD category was won by the Magnus Racing no.44 Porsche 911GT America from the 10th starting position.  This was a hard fought victory with the Magnus team having to overcome a series of obstacles.  The first was contact made with the No. 94 Turner BMW of Dane Cameron which sent the Porsche spinning into the dirt damaging the left rear and right-front grill.  They were able to make some initial repairs to the grill, but it was to remain to be a problem, but with all the cautions, they were able to baby it through the race.  Then, during Andy Lally’s stint, the air compressor for the transmission failed.  The team was able to execute repairs only losing one lap, but with 5 hours left, the team was confident they were still in the running for a win.  “I still can’t believe it. We won Sebring,” stated Lally. “I just don’t have the words to describe it, what a team effort. Everyone on this team was just perfect. Perfect job by John and Marco, perfect pit stops, fast repairs, and a brilliant call at the end. Sebring has always been the one that escaped me, and we finally, finally did it. I can’t thank everyone at Magnus, and everyone at Flex-Box, enough for making this a reality.” 

One of the more exciting moments of the race was experienced by Ben Keating when his No 33 SRT Viper GT3 caught fire when the Viper broke a drive shaft yoke.  The driveshaft apparently severed a fuel line, causing two flaming tire streaks from behind the Viper. We’ve got a solid bulkhead for situations like this so I have a rearview camera,” Keating said. “I looked in my rearview mirror and it was like Back to the Future! I saw the two streaks of flames coming out of the back of the car in the camera before there was any smoke. So I got on the radio and said, ‘guys I’m on fire. I’m getting out.’ I hit the fire button, hopped out, but there was no flames or smoke inside the car when I got out. No smoke inhalation, no burns, no issues other than a melted car.” 

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