By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
SEBRING, Fla.– Desperate situations result in desperate moves that will either pay off big or make people angry and the latter came true after the 67th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
A late caution for the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 bunched up the field with under 20 minutes to go. The restart came with under eight minutes remaining and two different GT class battles resulted in tears for both GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).
Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT was trying to catch Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR for the GTLM class lead. With just under five and a half minutes remaining, Briscoe attempted to pass Andy Lally in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 entry. Briscoe went over the curb in the right hander on the back side of the circuit and spun the car, causing the Ford to spin and drop to sixth place in class.
Briscoe voiced his frustrations after the race was over.
“The yellow came out so we have the restart and I was hanging with [Tandy],” said Briscoe. “But just getting through the GTD traffic, they were all obviously racing hard as well, I was just following Tandy through the traffic, [Lally] just drove me straight down onto the inside curb and the car went round so that was it.
“I mean I had a run on him and he can see it’s a different class car coming through with the white lights but that’s him, you know. It’s no surprise.”
Lally understood Briscoe’s frustrations because having two classes of GT cars racing near the end isn’t the best of scenarios where one class has better advantages than the other.
“That last yellow put us in a really tough spot that I hate to be in with those GTLM guys,” said Lally. “They don’t like us enough as it is but when you get essentially almost like a green-white-checkered, you’re not going to make a lot of friends because you’re going to block the hell out of everybody because it’s your race and they’re going to do the same. I’m actually pretty lucky Briscoe didn’t dump me, I didn’t even see him on my inside and I drove him up the curb.
“I know lights are coming and we have a rear view camera instead of rear view mirrors but at that point it’s all full of oil and crap and I see the glare but I know I’ve got the Lambo in front of me. At that point I’m going to turn in on somebody but if he was next to me and I drove him up the curb I never meant to do anything like that. I like them, the Ford guys especially I like, a lot of them are my friends and I wouldn’t do that on purpose.”
Lally would not catch up to Mirko Bortolotti and the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 won the GTD class by 2.724 seconds over Lally. During the final safety car period, the series implemented a class split that put the prototypes ahead of the GT cars but did not separate the GTLM cars from the GTD cars. Lally believes that the class split should separate the GTLM and GTD cars so that an incident like his and Briscoe’s wouldn’t happen again.
“We’re so much better in the brake zones than they are and they’ve got just enough more torque and they’ve got more downforce,” said Lally. “So they’re a little dragger so in the top end they’re not that great but they accelerate really well so it’s like this mix of half and half, it creates this terrible angst between the classes.”
The 2014 Sebring GTD class winner did have one thing he would’ve changed regarding how his race against Bortolotti could’ve ended.
“If that wasn’t a Lamborghini I’d have nerfed him out of the way,” said Lally. “I would’ve moved him right off the groove. I’d have bumped him, I’d have done a bump ’n run in 5, 13 or 17 because we were really rolling on there, we were stronger and I just would’ve lifted him up and moved him up. I wouldn’t have crashed him, I’d have just moved him out of the way.
“If it wasn’t our second race with Lamborghini and I knew I would have a potentially hopefully long relationship with these guys, wrecking us both out of the Sebring 12 Hours wouldn’t have been a good way to start the relationship.”
The next IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race is the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 5-6 weekend.