61st 12 Hours of Sebring Recap + Photo Gallery: Audi Dominates Again, GTs Duke It Out
We trust you didn’t wager against the Audi R18 e-tron Quattros in the 61st running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. It would have been a sucker’s bet that the German team would do anything but dominate—and it did just that. Since 2000, Audi has won Sebring every year but three, with five of those victories coming courtesy of diesel power. This year, its R18 hybrids qualified 1st (drivers: Marcel Fassler/Benoit Treluyer/Oliver Jarvis) and 2nd (Lucas di Grassi/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish) and finished in the same order, with both cars five laps up on the next P1 machine.
But putting down a wager on any one of the GT teams was chancy—the battle pitched Ferrari 458 Italia against Corvette C6 ZR1 against BMW Z4 GTE against Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. And lurking in the background, suggesting a strong season to come, were the two SRT Viper GT-Rs, one of which had led the race before facing a mechanical problem during a pit stop. The GTs were hard at it from the start, and with six hours to go, there was a tight train of Ferrari, Corvette, BMW, and Porsche duking it out as if they were in a 10-lap sprint race. At the finish, it was Corvette (Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Richard Westbrook) and then Ferrari (Gianmaria Bruni/Olivier Beretta/Matteo Malucelli) on the same lap, followed by Porsche (Wolf Henzler/Bryan Sellers/Nick Tandy), BMW (Bill Auberlen/Maxime Martin/Jörg Müller), and Viper (Ryan Dalziel/Dominik Farnbacher/Marc Goossens).
The P2 class saw four Honda-powered prototypes taking on one with a Nissan engine, and Scott Tucker, new dad Marino Franchitti, and IndyCar’s Ryan Briscoe gave Honda the win. The PC class is all Oreca chassis/engine combos, and the class win went to David Cheng, Mike Guasch and David Ostella. It’s a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup-fest in GTC—Cooper MacNeil, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Dion von Moltke were this year’s winners.
We’d like to report that the updated DeltaWing was a factor, but it wasn’t. Just 12 minutes into the race, it was in the pits. The car eventually made its way back out on track, but it did only 10 laps before starting to pump engine smoke and ultimately retiring.
- Night Practice Photos from the 61st 12 Hours of Sebring
- Photos and Info: Audi R18 e-tron Quattro and R18 Ultra
- SRT Unveils Viper GTS-R Race Car for ALMS Competition
Forty-two cars started the race on the 17-turn circuit known for its rough surface, and the top 35 managed to turn more than 300 laps. But while the course itself will be as familiar as ever next year, the race could look even more different: 2014 will continue the evolution of the freshly merged Grand-Am and ALMS series. If you only make it to one endurance race in ’14, that might make the 62nd running one to shoot for—to say nothing of Sebring’s legendary trackside party scene.
By John Lamm