What to Watch for: IMSA Twelve Hours of Sebring

#52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07, LMP2: Mikkel Jensen, Ben Keating, Scott Huffaker


As the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the final leg of the 36 Hours of Florida, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is generally viewed in the context of January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Almost inevitably, the Daytona winners rank as “favorites” in the lead-up to America’s longest-lived endurance race. And why not? Teams, cars and drivers who triumphed in the twice-around-the-clock race at Daytona International Speedway have already shown the speed, endurance and savvy it takes to win a long-distance race. By a similar token, competitors who didn’t fare so well at Daytona are, if not desperate, then “highly motivated” to get on the winning track – or at least score lots of championship points – at Sebring, lest their championship aspirations all but vanish in the first two races of the long season.

So, while the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian and No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05s seek to repeat the form that took them to a 1-2 finish at Daytona, other Daytona Prototype international (DPi) teams are out to rebound from disappointments in the first round of the season. That surely applies to the brace of Cadillacs entered by Chip Ganassi Racing in the wake of what ranks among CGR’s most disappointing Rolex 24 performances, one that saw mechanical gremlins reduce their two Caddys to also-rans before the sun peaked over Daytona’s east banking on Sunday.

What’s more, the dynamics of having defending Sebring winner Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 Cadillac even as former Sebring pole winner Neel Jani slides into the No. 02 entry as an 11th-hour replacement for Formula 1-bound Kevin Magnussen. And speaking of JDC-Miller MotorSports, the JDC squad will be hoping the mythical law of averages helps them avenge the disappointment that comes from finishing third at Daytona after an untimely full-course yellow knocked them out of a convincing lead in the final hours of the 24-hour race. Not to mention reprising last year’s David vs. Goliath Sebring triumph, with the vastly experienced Richard Westbrook taking the place of the aforementioned Bourdais in the No. 5 Cadillac.

On the GT front, Porsche starts as prohibitive favorites based on the No. 16 Wright Motorsports and No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports 911 GT3 R sweep of the GT Daytona (GTD) and GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) categories at Daytona, respectively. But that’s the tip of the proverbial iceberg given that Sebring International Raceway has been a happy hunting ground for Porsche of late, witness the Stuttgart marque’s domination of the GT victory stand there dating back to Fall 2020. In fact, the last marques to best Porsche at Sebring were Corvette and Aston Martin (in the July 2020 sprint race).

And speaking of ‘Vettes, surely No. 3 Corvette C8.R GTD will be looking to rebound from a troubled GTD PRO debut at Daytona. If there’s any IMSA team capable of effecting such a reversal in form, it’s Corvette Racing. As for Aston Martin, it looks to break into the “W” column at Sebring in the wake of Magnus Racing’s No. 44 Vantage GT3 runner-up GTD finish at Daytona. Likewise, Ferrari, which garnered second in GTD PRO at Daytona and, happily, will be represented at Sebring by the same No. 62 Ferrari 488 GT3 entered by Risi Competizione for the first time since 2018.

Look to the 2022 Rolex 24 for a favorite in LMP2, or to recent Sebring form? Something has to “give” at Sebring, given that in order to notch a fourth consecutive win on the 3.74-mile circuit (including the 2020 sprint race), the No. 52 ORECA LMP2 07 of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports will have to outrun DragonSpeed USA’s No. 81 entry; the same DragonSpeed that narrowly bested Racing Team Nederland, Tower Motorsports and PR1 Mathiasen to take the class win at Daytona; the same DragonSpeed entry that will feature a 1-2 Montoya punch in the form of the inestimable Juan Pablo and his 16-year-old son Sebastian in his IMSA debut.

By a similar token, CORE autosport is seeking to defend its LMP3 win at Sebring on the heels of its No. 54 Ligier JS P320’s third place at Daytona, while Riley Motorsports is gunning for its second LMP3 win of the young season, having finished second and third at Sebring last year in the Nos. 91 and 74 Ligiers – one of only two events that The No. 74 Riley entry failed to win in 2021.

Those are just a sampling of the storylines heading into what figures to be 12 hours of ferocious competition at Sebring International Raceway. With 53 cars, more than 45 teams and some 150 drivers vying for five class wins, you can be sure many, many more compelling developments will emerge between 10:10 a.m. and 10:10 p.m. ET on Saturday.

If you can’t be there in person, be sure to catch all the action on Peacock, IMSA Radio and the USA Network.