Action Express Speeds to Dominant Sebring Victory

The second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance race of 2019 started soaking wet like the first one ended but Action Express Racing was fast both during and after wet conditions, scoring victory after 12 hours of racing at Sebring International Raceway.

Rain at the start of the race caused overheating issues for the Rolex 24 at Daytona-winning Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and electrical gremlins for the pole-sitting No. 6 Acura ARX-05 fielded by Team Penske.

By the end of the first hour, the first 40 minutes of which was run under a yellow flag, Pipo Derani had wheeled the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPi from a fifth-placed start to the front of the field. The car led at the end of nine of the race’s 12 hours while its sister car led the other three.

The No. 10 Cadillac shared by Jordan Taylor, Renger van Der Zande and WeatherTech Championship newcomer Matthieu Vaxiviere posed the most serious challenge to Action Express’ dominance. After overcoming unscheduled early pit stops under the first caution that dropped it to the back of the field, the car ran in the second position at the end of the seventh, eighth, ninth, 11th and 12th hours.

A final restart following the race’s fifth and final caution marked Taylor’s best shot at overtaking Felipe Nasr in the leading No. 31 Cadillac. With seven minutes remaining, a well-timed return to power by Nasr kept Taylor and the Konica Minolta Cadillac at bay, securing a 1.030-second victory for himself and co-drivers Pipo Derani and Eric Curran.

Acura DPi pit stop during 2019 Sebring 12 Hours
Electrical problems and an unideal setup during the wet portion of the race kept Acura and Team Penske from challenging for the lead. | Photo: Michael L. Levitt / IMSA

Taylor was able to split the two Action Express cars, with the black-and-gold Mustang Sampling No. 5 Cadillac finishing third. Four seconds separated the top three, thanks in part to the seven-minute green-flag dash to the checkered flag.

Though Penske’s Acura pair struggled in the rain, Alexander Rossi was able to coax late speed out of the No. 7 prototype he shared with Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves. The car ran in the fourth position at the end of each of the final three hours, taking the checkers 11.3 seconds behind Nasr.

Colin Braun propelled the No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan Onroak DPi to a top-five finish after being off the lead lap for much of the race, although his was the first car to finish one lap down.

The No. 55 Mazda RT24-P was brought home in sixth by Olivier Pla. On the same lap as Braun at the finish, the car went multiple laps down after Jonathan Bomarito made heavy contact with the Turn 13 tire barrier to initiate the second full-course caution.

Notably, the second yellow flag flew when the sister No. 77 Mazda stopped on the backstretch with an electrical issue. The car was repaired and rejoined the race but finished 115 laps down and last in class.

The two Mazdas were separated at the finish by JDC-Miller Motorsports’ Tristan Vautier and Stephen Simpson in seventh and eighth, Penske’s Dane Cameron in ninth and Juncos Racing’s Rene Binder in 10th.

Performance Tech Takes LMP2

A 13-lap lead for the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA 07 at the end of 12 hours ensured that the two-car LMP2 class wasn’t much of a contest.

The pair of global-spec cars traded the lead five times over the first three hours but after that, the Performance Tech car remained in the class lead. The car, driven by Kyle Masson, Andrew Evans and Cameron Cassels, led at the end of each of the race’s 12 hours.

The second-place finish for PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ No. 52 ORECA represented an improvement over its Daytona result, where both full-season LMP2 cars were bested by DragonSpeed’s one-off effort of two cars.

The premier DPi category will be back in action April 12–13 on the streets of Long Beach before sharing the track with LMP2 again at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the first weekend of May.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinchttp://www.benhinc.com
Ben's executive editor title is purposefully broad to encompass the bottomless list of roles he fills for The Apex, which includes webmaster, graphic designer, quality consultant and writer. Ben's technical background and progressive media distribution approach set The Apex apart technologically and philosophically.

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