The #91 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R driven by: Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay at this year's Sebring 12 Hours. Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt. (Image source: motorsport.com)
Talk 'bout getting your Pre-season conditioning in, as several of the 'BIG BOYZ IndyCar drivers barely had time to rest 'N relax before beginning Indy Cars annual Spring Training which began this Monday at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, (March 17-18) which is mandatory for all full season participants.
As the following drivers participated in the just concluded 12-hours of Sebring (March 15) just down the road in Florida this past Saturday: Sebastian Bourdais, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson with IndyCar interlopers Townsend Bell and Martin Plowman all taking part in the endurance classic, appropriately the second ever newly mergified Sports Car series race following the Grand-pappy Day-Toner' 24hr enduro.
Going for two in-a-row was le 'Hamburgular, nee Sebastain Bourdais, aka 'SeaBass, who won this year's Tutor United Sports Car Championship's TUSC) season opener, (the Rolex 24 at Daytona aboard the No. 5 Action Express Racing's Corvette DP.
While the entry I was most interested in was the second 'Cheepster-mobile, with Chip Ganassi having decided to enter a second racecar for Scott Dixon, 'TK Follow Your Schnoz (Kanaan) and Sage Karam; certainly a Star Studded affair with the reigning IndyCar, Indy 500 and Indy Lights champions behind the wheel.
And thanks to Trackside Online I learned that one of my favourite IndyCar Piloto's "Symone Pagenoe" (Simon Pagenaud) was contesting the race once again aboard the Scotty Sharp owned Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) Honda ARX-03b fresh off of his first rally race class win which he snared incredibly upon home soil in Viva la France the weekend prior...
Whilst another of my personal favourites Justin 'B-I-G UNIT Wilson was once again at the controls of Michael Shank's Ford "Eco-boost" Ford powered Riley DP; as I still get a chuckle every time I think of 'Ol Papa Tomaso's prophetic words 'bout there's NO such thingy as Economy in motor racing; Hooah!
Ryan "the Dude" Hunter-Reay, the Other Ryan (Briscoe) and Townsend Bell were all campaigning different GT machinery, with RHR piloting a monster Dodge Viper, Briscoe a Corvette C7R, (with co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia) and Bell a Ferrari 458 Italia; while "Plowie" (Martin Plowman) was co-driving a Prototype Challenge (PC) car.
And whilst it shouldn't have been surprising that once again Bourdais was on Pole, after all having led the way in practice, it was another ex-IndyCar racer's name that caught my eye, as Bruno "NOT MARS!" Nee Junky; Err Whineybags Junqueira had captured the Pole for the PC class for RSR Racing, while fresh off of his Indy 500 ride for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing announcement, 'TAG, aka Alex Tagliani's name was spotted as one of the frontrunners in the race's early hours, albeit having been stopped for the #33 Dodge Viper burning itself to the ground!
Another past IndyCar driver's name being spotted on the entry list was 'Rafa (Raphael) Matos piloting the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports PC-class challenger with further investigation revealing that 'TAG is piloting the 'Seester Rockesports Racing PC chassis of class Pole winner Junqueira, with the two past Champ Car protagonist's driving for Paul "GOOFY" Gentilozzi.
And another ex-Champ Car pilot named Jan "Van Hagar" Heyland was spotted in the mix of GT cars, running one of the plethora of Porsche's 911 Panzerwagons, while past competitor and current IndyCar driver Justin Wilson's Michael Shank Racing's entry was forced to start from the rear of the field due to its primary Sports Car driver 'Oz Negri not having completed enough of the required nighttime driving distance during practice.
Meanwhile Leigh Diffey of 'Peacock-lite fame (NBCSN) gave 'MAGS Jr's father Jan Magnussen a Shout-out near 12:30AM (Pacific) after a brief interview with his son who'd stuck his McLaren fourth Down Under in Melbourne in his debutant F1 'Qualie session, with Diffey claiming that 'MAGS Senior would be partying the night away after completing the 12 Hours of Sebring by watching his son on the 'Telie...
At the six hour mark, Ryan "Razzle Dazzle" Dalziel led the way aboard his ESM Honda ARX-03b followed by another past IndyCar driver named Christian Fittipaldi behind the wheel of the Corvette DP he was sharing with Bourdais and 'JB, (Joao Barbosa) while Alex Brundle was third at the keyboard of his Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan. And yeah, that's Martin "BillyBob" Brundle's son - with Kanaan's Riley-ford fourth and Pagenaud's Honda fifth.
Unfortunately Tagliani was involved in a wreck not of his own doing, as the 'Kuhnaidiun unsuccessfully swerved to avoid another spinning competitor and the two were collected in the wreck sewn PC class, which ultimately saw only two class competitors fighting for the class honours at the end of the race.
And then it was a Franchitti sweeping to overall victory, albeit not Dario, but 'lil brother Marino taking the chequer's for Chip Ganassi aboard the #01 Riley-Ford DP with co-drivers Scott "Scooter" Pruett and Memo Rojas, giving Ford its first Sebring victory since 1969! Also Pruett's first win on the notoriously bumpy circuit, whilst Y'all will just have to read the link below for more info upon the other class winners...