After a grueling 12 hours and 328 laps, a Porsche 911 RSR wins 2018 Sebring 12 Hours GT Class.  The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, piloted by Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France), won the 66th running of the grueling 12-hour classic.

Contested at the notoriously bumpy and treacherous Sebring International Raceway in Florida, the 12 Hours of Sebring is the oldest and roughest sports-car endurance race in the United States.   For that reason, it is all the more sweet that this is the first victory for Porsche for the IMSA SportsCar Championship season in GTLM Class.

If that wasn’t sweet enough, the other GT Factory 911 RSR Porsche finished on the podium.  The No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) endured too, racing under the checkers in third place.

It’s crucial that both Factory GT 911s wound up on the podium, as both thus scored points toward the North American Endurance Cup.

Despite its bumpy, washboard-like course – consisting of original U.S. airbase runways for Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft from 1941 to 1946 – Sebring International Raceway is hallowed ground for Porsche.  In 1960, Porsche commenced its historic run as the most successful sports-car racing marque on the raceway by chalking up 18 outright victories and now 71 class wins.

Both Porsche 911 RSR race cars gradually made up positions from their sixth (Vanthoor in the No. 912) and seventh (Tandy in the No. 911) place starting positions on the grid.

Despite taking a little off-course excursion which ripped off its entire rear bumper, wing and diffuser, the No. 911 spent precious little time in the pits and continued making up lost time to get closer to the front.

And then it happened.  Patrick Pilet in his No. 911 took the lead for the first time in the 279th lap after 10 hours and 10 minutes.  After the driver change, Nick Tandy took over and then took the checkered flag for the spectacular GTLM Class win.  This places Tandy, Pilet and Makowiecki in second place in the driver’s championship.

“This win was missing from my collection.  It was a great team effort,” praised Pilet.  “The pit crew didn’t make one mistake and our strategy was perfect. To celebrate this achievement with my friends Nick and Fred is incredible.”

Having enjoyed the thrill of taking the checkers in first place before all of the BMWs, Chevrolets, Ferraris and Fords, Tandy picks up on that thought:  “They say that the best victories come from the toughest races.  Today was such a race.  We didn’t have the slightest problem over the entire distance and that was the key to our success.  My last two stints were incredibly intense, especially the duels with the Ferrari and the BMW.  We switched to new tires during the last pit stop – after that, nothing could hold us back.”

Long Beach, California, hosts the next race, Round Three of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, on April 14, 2018.

GT Race Results for the 2018 66th 12 Hours of Sebring:

GTLM Class

  1. Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki (GB/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 328 laps
  2. Sims/de Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8, 328
  3. Vanthoor/Bamber/Bruni (B/NZ/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 328
  4. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, 328
  5. Vilander/Pier Guidi/Calado (SF/I/I), Ferrari 488, 327
  6. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette, 327
  7. Krohn/Edwards/Catsburg (SF/USA/NL), BMW M8, 296
  8. Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller (DK/E/D), Chevrolet Corvette, 283
  9. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 277

GTD Class

  1. Sellers/Snow/Lewis (USA/USA/USA), Lamborghini, 321 laps
  2. Balzan/McNeil/Jeannette (I/USA/USA), Ferrari 488, 321
  3. Keating/Bleekemolen/Stolz (USA/NL/D), Mercedes, 321
  4. Long/Nielsen/Jaminet/Renauer (USA/DK/F/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 321
  5. Bergmeister/Lindsey/Pappas (D/USA/A/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 321