Writer : Josh Terletzky

Photographer: Josh Terletzky

The day has finally arrived and the Sebring faithful have started to pour into the gates. Granted the big boys don’t hit the pavement until Thursday of race weekend but that isn’t stopping any of the gear heads from getting their early fix of this wonderful place in the middle of Florida. First it’s the 12 hours of Sebring billboards, then it’s the ticket scalpers that seem to be on every corner in town, and it soon finishes with long road through the orange groves, that’s when your heart starts pumping through your chest.

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The excitement when you hit the gates can be felt from head to toe. The sights and smells provided by this heaven on earth are undying. Once you see the grandstands that are plastered by legendary automakers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Audi and Nissan to name a few, that’s when you realize you’re in a very special place. Audi has been the dominant team as of late, and it was no different this year for the 61st running of the half around the clock extravaganza. Audi Sport Team Joest enjoyed the overall victory by Marcel Fässler, Benoît Tréluyer and Oliver Jarvis in the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro. This also marked the first victory ever for a hybrid race car at Sebring. The team certainly went out in style as it will be Audi’s last P1 performance at Sebring, because due to new regulations, P1 cars will not be eligible for next year’s 62nd running.

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For those who have witnessed the Audi vs. Peugeot battles in recent years know they have gotten their money’s worth. Unfortunately with Peugeot canning their factory prototype program, Audi has had a cake walk to the checkered flag the past 2 years.  Unfortunately fans were not able to witness these fantastic battles one last time under the wonderful Florida skies. On the brighter side the GT class will be returning next year and will be as advertised as always. Year after year lap after lap the Sebring faithful is blessed with bumper to bumper action from the GT cars. The Compuware Corvette team always seems to have lady luck on their side and this year was once again proof of that. The No.4 Corvette Racing C6 ZR1 battled back from early electrical problems and a early penalty to steal the victory away from the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia in the closing laps. Ferrari ace Gianmaria Bruni was forced to come in the pits for a driver change due to numbness and cramping on the right side of his body.

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Sebring newbie  Matteo Malucelli  took over and seemingly lost a 20 second gap to Tommy Milner, due to a couple off track excursions. With 15 minutes to go, Milner reeled in Malucelli and was able to cross the finish line ahead of Risi Competizione. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Tifosi.  Taking the last step on the GT podium was the trio of Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellars and Nick Tandy, who drove the wheels off of their Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, finishing one lap behind the Corvette and Ferrari. In the p2 category, Level 5 Motorsports finished 1-2 and continued their Sebring success. Marino Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Tucker finished ahead of their team car,  which was also driven by Scott Tucker, who was aided by Ryan Hunter-Reay,  and Simon Pagenaud.

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European mainstay, Greaves Motorsport’s which is piloted by Tom Kimber-Smith, Eric Lux and Christian Zugel finished ahead of the two car team of P2 newcomer Extreme Speed Motorsports. The Prototype Challenge Class has been picking up steam as of late thanks to the availability of top shoes from around the world. This class also provided a lot of action from beginning to end and came down to the final seconds. The PR1/Mathiason Motorsports team of David Chang, David Ostella and Mike Guasch beat Kyle Marcelli, Chris Cumming and Stefan Johansson in the BAR1 Motorsports Oreca. Last but not least, the GTC class saw the victory go to the Alex Job Racing/WeatherTech team the car was brought home by recent 24 hours of Daytona winner Dion Von Moltke, Cooper MacNeil, and rising GT star Jeroen Bleekemolen. Although this was the last time the fans will be able to witness the trend setting P1 class in action at Sebring, we were provided with another classic which shall continue for years to come.

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