A condensed Sebring schedule ends with a frenetic race day.
With the Sebring IMSA schedule condensed to accommodate round one of the 2022 WEC championship and the Twelve Hours of Sebring, our practice and qualifying sessions would take place on Wednesday ahead of our race on Thursday. In typical Florida fashion, we experienced both rain and dry conditions on Wednesday. Jay logged the bulk of our practice laps through those changing conditions, feeling good about the setup in the race car as we prepared to wrap our day with a fifteen-minute qualifying session. Jay banked solid laps during our session, ultimately slotting in 11th as the session ended. Our Wednesday ended quietly and without incident, and we went into the evening confident about our chances for a good finish in Thursday’s race.
For as smooth and as drama-free as Wednesday was for us, Thursday’s race was full of excitement and adversity. The first stint was interrupted with viscous wrecks that slowed the action for extended periods as track workers re-situated safety barriers. The reduced green flag racing time meant the on-track intensity ramped up, and Jay found himself in the thick of battle with TCR- and GS-class competitors. Through the beating and banging, Jay held steady as his stint ended. Just past the 1-hour mark, Jay pitted our Audi for tires, fuel, and a driver change as it was Tristan’s turn behind the wheel.
However, our optimism for a good finish would quickly disappear. After an efficient pit stop and driver change, Tristan logged only a single competitive lap before suffering a broken right rear wheel and significant suspension damage after contact with another TCR-class competitor. Tristan pitted for a new right rear wheel and for our crew to inspect the suspension, losing a lap and any chance of a good finish. To Tristan’s credit, he maintained reasonable lap times in the wounded race car, crossing the finish line with an 11th-place finish.
As deflating as it was to be taken out of contention for a good finish, Sebring wasn’t all bad. Our crew nailed the pit stop and driver change, car setup and race strategy continue to be right on, and we left Sebring with a (mostly) intact race car. That’s not a bad way to head into the meat of the Michelin Pilot Challenge season.