Monday, March 30, 2015

IMSA: 2015 Sebring 12hrs Postscript...




Krohn Racing  celebrates  winning the Pole for the 63rd annual Sebring 12 Hours race.  (Image source: planetlemans.com)
Yeah, know Y'all are probably lookin' for some  hard hittin' IndyCar recap here after St Pete, but, Y'all know how I roll here in Nofendersville; Chirp-Chirp, Bueller? As I wanted to give a Shout Out to the various drivers who should be in Indy Cars, along with a few interlopers...

Memory lane
As I scribbled briefly in my comments towards the pathetic lack 'O celestial TV coverage here in the Pacific Northwest, the Sebring 12hrs endurance race is ten years older than its more esteemed rival DayToner, who's only hosted the epic Rolex 24 a scant 53-times.


As Sebring began life in 1941 as Hendricks Army Airfield thru the end of WWII as a US Army Air Forces (USAAF) training base for B-17 and B-24 Heavy Bombers.

Thus, suppose when listening to JB' (Justin Bell) drone on 'bout Sebring's legendous' bumps, along with mentioning how much Bob Varsha knew about the track's history. And as Varsha further mused how interesting it was to puruse the record books for various winners and related stories, my mind immediately flashed back to Ken Miles last major victory in the (open-top) Ford GT40 X1 Roadster.

As suppose this was somewhat spurred on by the news that Scotty Sharp's Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) had dusted off their old open cockpit Honda ARX03b's for the event, which Ryan "Razzle-Dazzle" Dalziel had surprisingly put on the front row alongside Tracy Krohn's pole winning P2 Ligier-Judd with Olivier Pla at the controls.


63rd Annual Mobil 1 Sebring 12 Hours
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Awoke 5mins prior to the disappointingly short Fox Sports-1 (FS1) 2hr TV broadcast which began at 7:30AM here on the "Left" (West)  Coast, with lead announcer extraordinaire Bob Varsha at the helm, flanked by Calvin Fish and Justin Bell, with the green flag flying at 7:41AM, which seems like an odd time to Mwah. Whilst hearing Justin in the booth made me think of my last proper interview...


As my hurriedly scrawled notes mention the various Open Wheel Racing Drivers getting Shout Outs, in no particular order: "Plowie," nee Martin Plowman was scrapping for the lead in PC (Prototype Challenge) vs. the class's champion Colin Braun.

Conor Daly, also contesting the PC class got multiple mentions, whilst I was most pleased by Varsha's comments, musing how Conor deserves to be in a premiere racing series as this Kid's got the Chops! Hear-Hear Bob!

As I've already lamented how nice it'd be seeing the younger Daly in IndyCar, say I dunno, as "Francesco Floppah's" (Dracone) replacement at Dale Coyne Racing later this year...

Another talented driver named James Davidson was mentioned, as it appears the "Aussie has settled for a Sports Car career? As he was the chauffer of the #007 TRG AMR (The Racers Group Aston Martin Racing) Vantage V-12 GT3, with his run of five consecutive GTD class Pole positions being snapped at Sebring.

Mario Farnbacher, brother of noted Porsche 911 racer Dominik, got noticed for his prolific 'Dicking for the lead in GTD, (GT Daytona) behind the wheel  of my Hometown Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing's (AJR) longtime No. 23 Porsche 911, as AJR has a penchant for winning Sebring, having sprayed the champagne a very impressive nine times at the 'Ol lady, nee Sebring.

Also discovered from Racer's qualifying report that the third quickest GTD car was the #73 Park Place 911 piloted by Spencer Pumpelly, as this team is from Bellevue, WA. Having noted previously these were two Pacific Northwest entrants  to watch out for...


While the #98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, with ex-Formula 1 driver Pedro Lamy as one of its chauffer's got mentioned, before Lamy handed off to Paul Dalla Lana, who was the unlucky recipient of a rear wheel not being fastened properly, which brought out the races first full-course caution. As the number 98 is pretty important in Shelby lore...

Pretty sure it was Pit Reporter Brian Till(?) saying he'd talked to Justin B-I-G' UNIT Wilson who said: If Oz' (Oswaldo Negri) sez' its loose, then there's NO way the rest of us can drive I-T! As both the No. 60 and No. 01 with Joey Hand at the controls changed noses during said (first) caution period at end of hour-one.

Yet the day just got worse 'N worse for the Michael Shank Racing team  and its #60 Ligier JSP2 Honda racecar, as Negri made a second trip to the Pits to have another nose attached before we left the FS1 broadcast under our second full-course yellow after Negri pirouetted into the wall, causing  heavy damage to the car as team-mates Justin Wilson and John Pew had yet to even take a single stint behind the wheel!

Live Streaming...
Cannot say how happy something simple like being able to listen "N watch the race live via imsa.comhttp://www.imsa.com/
 was for Mwah! With the added bonus of hearing one of my favourite voices, Greg Kramer at the mike, with the always enjoyable energized voice of John Hindhaugh as Sidekick and Colour Commentator.

As Hindhaugh had fun interacting with thee "Scottish Terrier," aka Alan McNish who was making a cameo appearance. As McNish was his usual comedic self. As all of this took place with some 7.5hrs remaining.

As still cannot say how excited I was 'bout planning to listen to the races final  few hours via Zed Internetz, after first marveling over how simple it worked around the 3hr mark! (11:40AM Pacific)

Having learned via the live stream, that reportedly ESM will switch over to Ligier chassis for their Le Mans assault this year after apparently having troubles with their new for 2015 Honda ARX04b closed coupe chassis...

And apparently la Scuderia's, nee Ferrari 458 Italia is on its last legs, as they mentioned  a new 488GT will replace it soon.

The No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 qualifies second in the GT Daytona class for this year's Sebring 12 Hours race. (Image source: planetlemans.com)
PNot to mention hearing John Hindhaugh muse how the two AJR Boyz should really not try running side-by-side a whole lap 'round Sebring! Pondering how that conversation would go over coffee if they took each other out? As the two Alex Job Racing entries No's 22 & 23 were joined in a massive scrum for the class lead with the always competitive Andy Lally aboard his Magnus Racing #45 Porsche 911.

At the 3hrs 45mins (remaining) mark, Greg Kramer interviewed GTD class leader James Davidson, who commented he'd been out of the car for five hours before his stint, but everything was looking good, then later on Greg interviewed Davidson's co-driver Christina Nielsen, who said she didn't want to jinx anything,  but they deserved to win and she just hoped to podium.

And whilst Greg was Double-Dipping, doing a Yeoman's job by working both the commentary booth and Pitlane, two unfamiliar but enjoyable voices playfully supported lead announcer John Hindhaugh; having never heard of either Shane Adam or Jim Roller (speeling?) before. As these two, along with Jeremy Shaw also did double duty a la Greg Kramer's dual roles...

As Kramer got help from an unexpected source, as "MAD MAX" (Papis) co-driving the No. 5's 'Seester car, the No. 31 Action Express Corvette DP poured ice down Kramer's back as he was interviewing a very hot 'N tired 'Hamburgular!

As Kudos to imsa.com's wonderfully simple "One-step Watch Now"  clip of the mouse enabling Mwah to gorge thyself for some four-plus hours of live racing coverage! Having watched; Err listened to more than half of the race...

Others
Funny hearing them described as the IndyCar boyz, referring to Corvette Racing's tandem of Ryan Briscoe in the No. 3 and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 4 respectively. While le 'Hamburgular, who's Day Job is piloting the #11 KVSH Racing IndyCar, nee SeaBass (Sebastain Bourdais) was once again co-driving the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP.

Jeroen Bleekemolen suffered the ecstasy of speed aboard the #33 Dodge Viper GT3R at Sebring. (Image source: photos.prnewswire.com)
Race of The Race!
OH SHIT! I'm rootin' against my Homeboyz, after wanting  James Davidson's "Double-oh-Seven" Aston Martin (#007) to win the GTD class, before he fell down the leader board to fourth, as the driver Shane Adam would later describe as "Super Mario," aka Mario Farnbacher, had pulled the No. 23 Team Seattle/AJR Porsche back to the front after they'd suffered a tyre puncture that apparently deranged the 911's tail-quarters; Aye Karumba!

Meanwhile the Bob Riley designed Riley Motorsports eight-liter V-10 Dodge Viper GT3R's ran P2-3 in class, before Jeroen Bleekemolen driving the #33 Viper ran down the #23, passing for the lead with just nine minutes remaining as Farnbacher simply ran wide at Turn-10 under the unrelenting  pressure of Bleekemolen!

Then unbelievably,  with just five minutes remaining, Bleekemolen came into the Pits and exited the smoking Viper, as  John Hindhaugh commiserated over how inconsolable Jerome was, sitting on the Pit Wall completely shell-shocked!

But as Hindhaugh said: DON'T write your headlines yet, as with just under two minutes  remaining, some scant 90-seconds plus left, the sister #93 Dodge Viper piloted by Mark Goosens drove thru Pitlane, losing third place...

As can Y'all believe this epic race finish was NOWHERE to be seen on readily accessible cable TV!  Can you hear me comca$t! Why the FUCK Don't we have Fox Sports-2 in Seattle?

As it was a "Win-Win" Day for Mwah, as Team Seattle was victorious in GTD, netting Alex Job his tenth Sebring class win in 26yrs with TRG AMR's #007 finishing second, and unexpectedly the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia with Townsend Bell & Co rounding out the podium thanks to the Viper's last minutes demise... As hopefully the Vipers can seek their revenge with a class win at this year's upcoming 24 Heurs du Mans!


Hail Corvette...
The #5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP of Christian Fittipaldi, João Barbosa and Sebastain Bourdais took a commanding 1-lap victory over the entire field, while Scott Dixon driving the Chip Ganassi Ford Eco-boost DP lost third place with just 8mins remaining, as NO idea of whether his uncharacteristic stall on Pitlane during the final Pit-stop played any part in this?

And with less than one hour left, everythingy went Pear-shaped for Porsche North America's two  leading 911 Panzerwagons... As first the #912 suffered a humiliating stripped rear lug nut issue, before the class leading #911 ran into shift linkage issues, giving the lead to the No. 3 Corvette of MAGS', (Jan Magnussen) Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe, with the Corvette trio scoring their second consecutive endurance victory this season after winning at Daytona. Not bad  for Briscoe, eh! As surely Corvette leads its class in the North American Endurance Cup, right?

The 'Seester No. 4 crashed out due to the proverbial 25-cent part breakage according to Greg Kramer, when a brake return spring broke a second time with "Ollie" (Gavin) at the controls.

As much fanfare was made over the fact to remember  the fives, as it was only the second time ever in history for a Chevrolet engine to win Overall, the first being exactly 50-years ago with Jim Hall's Chaparral...

As although an Oldsmobile (Aurora?) engine Riley & Scott MkIII chassis won the event with Wayne Taylor, Scott Sharp and Jim Pace at the controls in 1996; the hoopla over the fifty years win drought is in honour of a Chevrolet engine in name on the "Valve Covers" winning Overall at Sebring...

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