A review of the Sebring 12 Hours 2012

The 12 hours race at Sebring has long been a favourite of the Travel Destinations team, and once again this year it was our privilege to introduce the event to our customers travelling from the UK. In amongst our group this year were race marshals, a television crew as well as race fans giving us an eclectic mix, but the over whelming response from everyone was “wow!”

Sebring 12 Hours 2012

Although there had been a few showers the weekend before, the weather at Sebring for race week was perfect. If anything it was a little too sunny for some as the pink faces would testify. Certainly being a marshal out on the concrete for hours was hard work. Much like Le Mans shade is difficult to come by at the circuit, although some of our guests found a good viewing spot under some trees beyond turn 10.

Trying to describe the viewing and access at Sebring to those people who have never been is difficult. The paddock is open from the start of the week. For those wanting to get a glimpse of the cars, mechanics & drivers at work then this is the place to hang out. It could be that everyone is excited by the start of the season, but generally everyone seems relaxed and happy to answer questions or pose for photographs. Before any car has been driven in anger, the paddock is a happy place. Friday’s autograph session gives everyone an opportunity to meet their heroes. Of course if your hero is an Audi driver then you do have to queue in the sun for quite a while but then they’re worth it.

12 Hours of Sebring Autograph Session

Once the action starts on track then the best place to be is out around the circuit. Unlike Le Mans it is possible to walk around the whole of the Sebring circuit and much of the time you can walk trackside keeping an eye on the action as you go. Although Sebring doesn’t have grandstands the grass mounds around the circuit provide excellent views not obscured by catch fencing. The hairpin and turn 10 were firm favourites with our guests, although for a real sense of speed turn 17 at the end of the paddock straight is a must.

You cannot talk about Sebring without commenting on the Sebring race fans. Like Le Mans fans travel from far and wide to have fun on the circuit. The Sebring fan is more partial to an RV (motorhome) than its European counterpart, but diets of meat and alcohol are the same and they share the same fondness for fancy dress. The cows of Sebring are now famous, but with the race also falling on St. Patrick’s day this year the shamrocks and leprechauns were also out in force. Although the residents of Green Park can appear intimidating at first, get talking to them and you’ll soon be welcomed in for a beer.

Sebring cows 2012

The race itself was a good one. The combination of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the American Le Mans Series cars made for a congested circuit. It was perhaps remarkable that there were so few yellow flags during the race. As expected Audi’s diesels dominated the race from start to finish but there were challenges along the way.

Start of the Sebring 12 hours 2012

For a full race report from the media centre we now pass over to our good friend Graham Goodwin fromdailysportscar.com

Audi returned to victory at Sebring International Raceway for the first time since 2009 on Saturday with a convincing victory in the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish completed 301 laps in their Audi R18 to win by four laps in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Sebring 2012 Winners

Audi finished 1-2 at Sebring for the first time since 2005. Kristensen extended his Sebring record with his sixth overall victory. Capello now has won five times and McNish four. The winning trio gained control in the second half of the race as gearbox problems beset the pole-winning No. 1 Audi and the second-place R18 suffered contact with a slower car in the last hour.

Dyson Racing took advantage of fueling issues from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and won the ALMS’ P1 class. The trio of Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Steven Kane moved into the class lead near the 30-minute mark. Dyson Racing won last year’s P1 team championship, and Dyson and Smith claimed the drivers championship. Their victory on Saturday came within a week of testing the new Lola-Mazda for the first time. On the other end of the spectrum, the Muscle Milk crew was devastated by their final-hour fueling problems. Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr and Simon Pagenaud ran in overall podium position for much of the race’s second half in their HPD ARX-03a prototype.

Corvette at Sebring 2012

Joey Hand won GT for BMW Team RLL on the last turn of the last lap with a daring pass for the team’s second straight Sebring victory with the BMW M3 GT. It was a frantic race for much of the second half with six cars in position for the lead. Hand appeared to lose the lead on the final lap when he was forced off on the first third of the lap by an AF Corse Ferrari. Hand went off track but never lost the lead thanks to a remarkable recovery. Corvette Racing’s trio of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor also got around Beretta at the finish and ended 6.3 seconds behind the BMW. Beretta, Andrea Bertolini and Marco Cioci placed third in their Ferrari F458 Italia.

Starworks Motorsports’s trio of Ryan Dalziel, Stephane Sarrazin and Vicente Potolicchio won in P2 with their HPD ARX-03b. The closing two hours were a back-and-forth affair with the Starworks car finishing third overall. Sarrazin and Level 5 Motorsports’ Joao Barbosa swapped the lead multiple times within the last 90 minutes. Sarrazin began to drive away in the final 20 minutes. It was still a successful opening round in Level 5’s title defense of the ALMS P2 championship. Bouchut, Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker were the highest-finishing ALMS team in the class and overall standings. It was a remarkable comeback for the Level 5 team after a huge crash in qualifying Friday that left Bouchut in the outside tire wall at Turn 1. The team began the race from the rear of the field after changing tyres.

GT battle at Sebring 2012

Black Swan Racing placed second among the ALMS runners in class in its first P2 race since moving up from GT Challenge. Tim Pappas, Bret Curtis and Jon Fogarty completed 298 laps in their HPD-powered Lola B11/80 coupe.
They were ahead of Conquest Endurance, which finished third among the ALMS P2 finishers in the team’s first race in the Series. Martin Plowman, Jan Haylen and David Heinemeier Hansson drove their Morgan-Judd.

CORE autosport opened the defense of its Prototype Challenge championship with the team’s first victory at Sebring. E.J. Viso, Alex Popow and Burt Friselle drove their ORECA FLM09 to a one-lap victory over PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports
Butch Leitzinger, Rudy Junco and Ken Dobson finished second in another class fight that went down to the final hour. CORE also took third on the class podium with the trio of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and Eric Lux.

Oak Racing at Sebring 2012

In GTE Am, Team Felbermayr-Proton’s Christian Ried, Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti won by a lap in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The Felbermayr team placed second last year and finished ahead of Larbre Competition’s Corvette of Christophe Bourret, Pascal Gibon and Jean-Phillippe Belloc.

Alex Job Racing won in GT Challenge at Sebring for the second time in three years. Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Dion von Moltke outlasted the field for a one-lap victory over the team car of Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen and J.P. Dumoulin.The winning Alex Job car recovered from a mid-race spin and stayed steady as other challengers fell by the wayside in the race’s second half. AJR won at Sebring for the eighth time. Green Hornet Racing’s trio of Damien Faulkner, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Peter LeSaffre placed third.

Sebring pit lane at night

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