By IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In the world of endurance sports car racing, there are a few special trophies that every driver wants to hoist before their careers are complete.
For Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy, this month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts provided the opportunity to “complete the set” of crown jewel victories. He’d already won the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2014 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, and the following year, picked up the overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Tandy had another prestigious victory even before the Daytona win in 2015, taking what’s now known as the Motul Petit Le Mans in 2013 in the American Le Mans Series GT class. And for good measure, he took a GTLM and overall race victory home from Petit Le Mans in 2015, as well.
But it wasn’t until this year that Tandy would add that final piece to the puzzle, winning the GTLM class at Sebring in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR alongside co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki with the Porsche GT Team. The victory made him one of only nine active WeatherTech Championship drivers with victories in all four of those events.
“It was one of the things I’ve wanted to check off the list since I won Daytona, actually, in ’14, because it was the big American three,” Tandy said. “I’ve got Petit in ’13, Daytona in ’14, so every time I’ve come to Sebring, of course, to have that kind of accolade on your C.V. is huge. Then, of course, we won at Le Mans in ’15, so all these big, classic – the sports car classics with Le Mans-spec cars, it’s awesome to have the set. I’m really, really happy.”
This was Tandy’s fifth year competing at Sebring, having made three previous WeatherTech Championship starts in the Twelve Hours as well as one ALMS run at the world-famous race. And while it’s taken others considerably longer to get that Sebring victory, for Tandy, the wait was long enough for him to truly appreciate the unique challenge Sebring presents.
“It’s obviously a tough track,” he said. “You see with the amount of cars that finish on the lead lap in all the classes, it’s a tough track. It’s easy for things to go wrong. It’s hard on the machines. It’s hard on the drivers, but if you’re driving at this level, it shouldn’t be an issue.
“I think the thing that makes it tough is the fact that everybody wants to win it so much. It’s got such prestige to the race. Everybody comes here and they put everything in it. When you’re fighting great opposition, of course it’s hard to win. When you do win ones like this, the tough races, they’re pretty sweet.”
So now that he’s toppled one of the final giants among major endurance races, what’s next?
“I need a championship,” Tandy said. “I haven’t won a championship since 2010 (the VLN Series title), so that’s my next thing. That’s the aim.
“Of course, these things don’t come around very often. You don’t get the chance to fight at the front at Sebring very often, so I’m really happy that we could stick out. It was a super tough race. It could have gone any way, we just managed to have the luck and have the rub of the green and we managed to win this one. You want to win every race you go into, but the big ones are the ones that people remember.”