Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti’s Acura wins Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring

Colton Herta, Wayne Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Jordan Taylor celebrate their Sebring victory - courtesy Wayne Taylor Racing
Colton Herta, Wayne Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Jordan Taylor celebrate their Sebring victory – courtesy Wayne Taylor Racing

IMSA completed its 36 Hours of Florida on Saturday, March 16 with the historic 72nd Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, held on the airport/road course of Sebring International Raceway. Conducted on a Chamber of Commerce sunny day, with temps in the 70s and into the 80s, the race started without incident and ended under green flag conditions, with 46 of 58 contestants still running at the close.

The battle for an overall victory came during the final five minutes of the half-day contest, between Lotus Deletraz in the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06, who hounded Sebastien Bourdais’ No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R from the 11th hour on. Swiss racer Deletraz, 26, finally forced his way past the Frenchman and went on to post a slim 0.891-second victory in this tough race. Third place, and the final spot on the overall podium went to Felipe Nasr in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963, who was nearly nine seconds behind the first-place battle. There would be no victory for the Rolex 24 at Daytona winners, but they did salvage the final podium spot.

Cadillac Racing’s No. 01 finished second, just 0.891 seconds back – Cadillac photo

The battle between all Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) entries was fierce and it came down to a faked pass by Deletraz on the outside of Sebring’s hairpin corner that enabled him to make a late dive inside Bourdais. The four-time INDYCAR champion attempted a crossover move exiting the next straightaway, but Deletraz made his way and stayed ahead through the next grouping of turns. Sure, they made some light contact, but Deletraz kept his lead through the final four laps of Sebring’s 3.74-mile, 17-corner bumps to earn the win from third on the 58-car grid.

“Louis won for us,” said co-driver Jordan Taylor. “I think we were third on the last restart and he drove the wheels off that Acura. Fantastic win – and it was clean,” Taylor added. “Incredible – that was all Louis there at the end,” declared endurance driver and INDYCAR standout Colton Herta, who shared the Acura with Deletraz and Taylor. This is Deletraz’s first full season of IMSA racing, having made his mark in the World Endurance Championship (WEC); team owner Wayne Taylor gave the young racer his first IMSA opportunity last year as endurance driver for the team.

“The car was really strong in the end, and I knew we were in a position to win,” Deletraz admitted. “I felt a lot of pressure being in the car to finish the race. I didn’t want to take risks initially, but in the end, I had to send it. Seb (Bourdais) was tough but fair, so thanks to him. I he didn’t respect me, we would have both ended up in the wall. In the end,” he continued, “I saw the gap and just went for it, and I think I’ll remember this one for a long, long time.”

 

Lamborhini’s SC63 GTP made its debut in Sebring – IMSA photo

Bourdais’ disappointment was palpable: “They just came out like a rocket with new tires at the end,” he said. “I”m a little disappointed that it turned into a bumper car contest. I didn’t try to make any contact, but he sure banged us let, right and center.” His co-driver Scott Dixon, the six-time INDYCAR champion put it bluntly: “You’re never out go it until you’re out of it,” after starting the race from second on the grid, together with Ranger van der Zande. This result marked the second runner-up result for Cadillac Racing, who finished second at Daytona with the Ho. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R in the twice-around-the-clock season starter.

Fourth in the featured GTP class belonged to the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL’s BMW M Hybrid V8, with the second Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 fifth at the line. The final car to finish all 333 laps was the No. 5 privateer proton Competition Mustang Sampling Porsche 963 in eighth place, just behind the brand new Lamborghini Iron Lynx Lamborghini SC63, making its debut at this race.

Winward earned the GTD nod and swept IMSA’s 36 Hours of Florida – courtesy Mercedes

Era Motorsport took home the LMP2 title after winning at Daytona in late January, while GD PRO went to reigning class champions Vasser Sullivan’s No. 14Lexus RC F GT3, their first Sebring victory. Winward Racing secured their second consecutive 2024 win by earning the GTD crown with the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Vasser Sullivan and Lexus celebrate their first Sebring win – Lexus photo

Fully 46 of the 58 entries were running at the close of 12 hours of intense racing. There were a total of 10 caution periods – nearly one per hour – during the enduro, with the final caution coming with less than an hour and a half to go. The When Cadillac, which earned pole position for this race, was the sole GTP runner not to see the checkered flags, showing that consistency has come to the GTP class that was introduced at the start of the 2023 season.

The next race for the GTP and GTD classes takes place April 19-20 during the 49th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, California. LMP2 is on vacation until the six-hour contest at Watkins Glen International June 23rd while GTD PRO races again at the Motul Course de Monterey, held at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca May 10-12.

About Anne Proffit 1248 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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