Corvette and Michelin tame rugged Sebring
The 63rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring threw a long list of challenges at the competitors, but Corvette Racing and Michelin had the right answers as they combined to take the victory in the ultra-competitive TUDOR United SportsCar Series GTLM class.
Taking the victory in the GTLM class, the only TUDOR Championship class permitting open tire competition, was the Corvette C7.R driven by 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe.
“There is nothing quite like the Twelve Hours of Sebring,” said Chris Baker, motorsport director for Michelin North America. “This was a great test of Michelin’s total performance approach as the conditions were far hotter and the track much slicker than last year.”
The race on the hot, fast, bumpy, low-grip, historic 3.74-mile circuit at Sebring International Raceway began shortly after 10:40 a.m. with track temperatures of 93 degrees. Track temperatures peaked at 125 degrees at 3:30 pm and tumbled back down to 88 degrees in the closing hour, a dramatic swing from such a high starting pint on a temperature sensitive track.
“Being able to manage Sebring on a day like today requires tires with grip, responsiveness, and excellent driveability,” said Baker. “We brought a low-temperature medium compound tire, a ‘true medium’ and a high-temperature solution and several of our technical partner teams used every flavor. It was an excellent test of our pre-game preparation.”
Finishing second in GTLM was the Michelin fitted, Risi Competizione Ferrari driven by Giancarlo Fisichella, Pierre Kaffer and Andrea Bertolini. The overall race was won by the Action Express Corvette DP Prototype of Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.
After sailing through the first ten plus hours of the race in near pristine fashion, the relentless pace and endless bumps of the high speed circuit began to take a toll on the top GTLM competitors in the final hour as suspensions, transmissions and drive trains were stressed by the speeds, loads, heat, and bumpy track surface which in some areas retains its original 1941 paving.
The No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R and Magnussen, Garcia and Briscoe become the first team and driver combination since 2000 to claim both the Daytona 24 and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the same year. Crew chief Dan Binks post-race message to Michelin was as crisp as his team’s performance. “Michelin, Thanks! Your tires rock,” said Binks.
The third stop of the 2015 TUDOR Championship will be held in Long Beach, Calif, on April 18.