- New Continental wet tires receive high praise for grip and braking in wet conditions at Sebring.
- No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM team makes it two in a row.
- CORE autosport bounces back from Daytona with a win at Sebring.
- New car, first win. No. 63 Scuderia Ferrari team captures GTD win.
Sebring, FL – March 19, 2016. Saturday was a mixed bag when it came to weather. Teams started on Continental ExtremeContact Dry Race tires but just one hour in, moved to the new Continental ExtremeContact Wet tires. All three classes, Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC) and Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) raced on newly configured rain tires and following the 12 hour race in Sebring, the tires received rave reviews for their traction and braking under wet conditions. The performance of the Continental dry and wet tires provided 12 hours of door-to-door racing that saw the overall win come down to the final 10 minutes of the race.
Prototype (P) Recap
1st - No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 (Sharp/Brown/van Overbeek/Derani); 2nd - No. 31 Action Express Whelen/Team Fox Corvette DP (Cameron/Curran/Pruett); 3rd - No. 5 Action Express Mustang Sampling Corvette DP
Following a huge win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Honda Ligier JS P2 made a return trip to victory lane in the 12 Hours of Sebring. The race started under dry conditions but quickly moved to wet. After a lengthy red flag period for lightening, the field resumed under wet conditions but moved to a dry track for the end of the race.
With less than a half hour to go, the caution flew bringing out the final round of pit stops. The No. 2 team opted for left side Continental tires and fuel while the Action Express cars took fuel only, sending them to the lead. The two Action Express Corvettes dominated most of the race but with a mere five minutes to go, Pipo Derani drove the No. 2 machine past Dane Cameron in the No. 31 Corvette to overtake the lead and eventually, the win.
Prototype Challenge (PC) Recap
1st - No. 54 CORE autosport Flex Box/Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 PC (Bennett/Braun/Wilkins); 2nd - No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 PC (Alon/Kimber-Smith/Gutierrez); 3rd - No. 8 Starworks ORECA FLM09 PC (Popow/van der Zande/Hansson)
The No. 54 CORE autosport Flex-Box Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 was the class of the field at Sebring. Just before half-way, Colin Braun took the lead and the team never looked back on their way to victory lane, except for a minor hiccup with less than 15 minutes to go. On a re-start, Braun was spun by a GTD car sending him to the back of the field while Tom Kimber-Smith drove the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 to the lead. Braun sliced and diced his way back to the front to ultimately claim the team’s second Sebring victory in three years.
Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) Recap
1st - No. 63 Scuderia Ferrari 488 GT3 (Nielsen/Balzan/Segal); 2nd - No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 (Curtis/Klingmann/Freiberg); 3rd - No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 (Potter/Lally/Seefried)
From the pole to victory lane, the No. 63 Scuderia Ferrari 488 GT3 ran a consistent race which was enough to earn them a win among an extremely competitive GTD field. Jeff Segal put the Ferrari on the pole for the start of Saturday’s race but it was Alessandro Balzan who powered to the lead with nine minutes remaining to capture the win in the Ferrari 488 GT3’s maiden voyage. Teammate, Christina Nielsen, also drove an impressive stint on the new Continental wet tires giving her, her first GTD win.
The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM team made it two in a row capturing both the Rolex 24 At Daytona win and Sebring 12 win. The first team do sweep the first two races since 1998.
The No. 63 Ferrari win marks the first career GTD win for Christina Nielsen. She also became the first female class winner at Sebring since 2006.
CORE autosport captured their second Sebring win in three years.
Take a look at some of our favorite photos from this weekend’s race – Sebring
Scott Pruett, No. 31 Action Express Whelen/Team Fox Corvette DP (finished P2 in P) – “I think everything worked good and there’s always room for improvement. I’m really happy and proud that Continental was able to go out and react after what happened in Atlanta and I think there’s more to come. In the dry, they were fantastic. I took the lead and walked away, even with Derani in the P2 car. Exciting for me and kind of bitter sweet. Would have loved to get on top of the podium as it’s probably my last Prototype race.”
Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Action Express Mustang Sampling Corvette DP (finished P3 in P) – “It was the race we could do. Like Scott (Pruett, driver No. 31) was saying, we were in a gun fight with a knife. We were definitely not the fastest car but our team did a good job and was able to put the only Daytona Prototypes fighting with the P2’s. They were definitely much faster than we were here but we did a great job and had a flawless race, very competitive. The No. 31 and the No. 5 car did a tremendous job but it’s still not enough but we are thinking long term and the championship. We have a few more races to go and we’ll try to improve. It was difficult to do better than we did today.”
Colin Braun, No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 (finished P1 in PC) – “We’ve been really fast all week. It was really good in the wet, we almost put the whole field a lap down, we were like five seconds from putting the field one lap down. Bummed to see the caution come out and lose all that. The CORE guys did a great job on pit road and Jon (Bennett, co-driver) and Mark (Wilkins, co-driver) did a great job in adverse conditions. It’s really challenging when it’s rain, not rain, dry tires, wet tires, so it’s super challenging but the Continental tires did really good in the wet. I thought they were really holding up well in kind of challenging conditions where you had some pouring rain and a drying track and back. I was impressed with how they held on. Kind of got spun out by a GTD car with 15 minutes to go and fell dead last and had to drive back up through there like a crazy man but we made it happen.”
Jeff Segal, No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 (finished P1 in GTD) – “I suppose I was lucky that I had clear conditions every time I was in the car. I expected the first stint to be a lot trickier. Normally in the heat of the day you expect the tires to drop off a lot but for us it was perfect. The balance of the car is superb. Considering those are the tires we tortured and abused in qualifying it was awesome. A few hiccups in the end but we pulled off the win.”
Andy Lally, No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 (finished P3 in GTD) – “The new rain tires were a marked improvement over what we had in the past. We had the best braking tire that I’ve ever had in any car and we made a bit of improvement on traction coming out of the corner and a little bit on the front end, in the mid-corner. But most notably in the forward bite coming off and the braking coming in. The stability under braking was most noticeable, amazing.”
About Continental Tire
Based in Fort Mill, S.C., Continental Tire the Americas, LLC manufactures and distributes a complete premium line of passenger, light truck and commercial tires for original equipment and replacement markets. Our ultra-high, performance tires include award-winning technologies that focus on safety, help save money, and reduce CO2 emissions. Continental’s premium products are available at leading independent tire dealers, car dealers, and mass retail companies across North America. Continental Tire is a proud supporter of IMSA, Major League Soccer (MLS), College Basketball, Team är-kªn', West Coast Customs, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, and Petty’s Garage. For more information visit, www.continentaltire.com.
About Continental AG
Continental develops intelligent technologies for transporting people and their goods. As a reliable partner, the international automotive supplier, tire manufacturer, and industrial partner provides sustainable, safe, comfortable, individual, and affordable solutions. In 2014, the corporation generated sales of €34.5 billion with its five divisions, Chassis & Safety, Interior, Powertrain, Tire, and ContiTech. Continental currently employs more than 208,000 people in 55 countries.