ESM Nissan takes out 12 Hours of Sebring

Speedcafe.com

Sunday 18th March, 2018 - 2:38pm

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The victorious Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi pic: IMSA Twitter

The #22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi of Pipo Derani/Johannes van Overbeek/Nicolas Lapierre has won the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Derani brought car #22 home 12 seconds ahead of the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi, with the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi rounding out the podium.

Car #22 was in and out of the lead during the race and it was Lapierre who made the critical move in the 10th hour when he finally got by Mike Conway in car #31 after an entertaining dice.

But for pit strategy, the black and green machine led for the rest of the way.

The #10 WTR car of Renger van der Zande/Jordan Taylor/Ryan Hunter-Reay and the #31 Whelen car of Felipe Nasr/Eric Curran/Conway were both hamstrung by overheating problems, with the former needing to take on water on multiple occasions.

The highest-finishing LMP2 car was the #54 CORE autosport ORECA of Colin Braun/Romain Dumas/Jonathan Bennett in fourth.

GTLM honours went to the #911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy/Frederic Makowiecki/Patrick Pilet in 10th outright.

Ryan Briscoe and co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon finished fourth in class and 13th outright in the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, on the same lap as the class winners.

GTD was won by the #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Madison Snow/Bryan Sellers/Corey Lewis in 17th outright.

Sellers passed Jeroen Bleekemolen on the outside of Turn 1 in the final hour and quickly gapped his class rivals.

Kenny Habul/Thomas Jaeger/Mikael Grenier were 10th in GTD (26th outright) in the SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The race started in chaotic circumstances when Frank Montecalvo flipped the #64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 having clipped Sebastian Saavedra in a spinning prototype.

Ironically, the race-winning team’s #2 DPi also went out early with a gearbox issue which ESM suspected was caused by a Lap 1 hit with another protoype.

Both Acura Team Penske DPi cars went out within the space of an hour.

Helio Castroneves had been put into the lead in car #7 thanks to a canny pit call when a tent blew onto the track but the Acura’s engine failed with Ricky Taylor behind the wheel during the seventh hour.

Juan Pablo Montoya then ground to a halt in car #6, not long after spinning due to contact with Tristan Vautier in the #90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi.

Vautier would go on to put the pole-sitting car, which he shared with Matthew McMurry and Eddie Cheever, into the wall during the 11th hour.

Round 3 of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship supports the Long Beach IndyCar race on April 13-15.

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