After struggling at Daytona with its GTE Corvette converted to something more resembling a GT3 car, Corvette Racing unloaded its now-single-car effort at Sebring much stronger, and then was helped by a Balance of Performance change between practice and qualifying. The No. 3 of Jordan Taylor, Antonio Garcia and Nicky Catsburg qualified third and appeared to be in control in GTD Pro for much of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Advance Auto Parts, eventually securing their first victory in the two-race-old class by a 4.438s margin over the No. 63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan of Marco Mapelli, Andrea Caldarelli and Mirko Bortolotti.
“I think it looked easier than it was,” said Taylor “I’d say it was definitely a tough fight. We had a bunch of restarts where we were stuck in the pack with the GTD amateurs and then LMP3 cars, so I felt like every restart we were exposed to something happening and so we were trying to stay out of trouble for those first six to eight hours and then go racing at the end. Once we got to the front, the car was really good in clean air. Thankfully we were able to maintain that track position. I think if we had fallen back in class it would have been tough to get back through it. But thankfully the guys called a great strategy to keep us out front and executed every stop and everything perfectly and drivers made mistakes. So yeah, it was a really good day.”
With only minutes left in the race, Jules Gounon in the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 drove past a slowing Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 to take third with Maro Engel and Cooper MacNeil.
For much of the day, the Corvette was being hounded by the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M4 GT3 of Philipp Eng, Marco Wittman and Nick Yelloly, the sister car of which experienced power steering problems early. The No. 24 would experience a gearbox issue late in the race, falling out of podium contention.
Like Corvette, BMW suffered from lack of pace at Daytona, but testing on the track and wind tunnel led to some discoveries that, along with BoP changes and the different nature of Sebring vs. Daytona, had them on par with the rest of the GTD Pro and GTD field.
In fact, it looked likely that the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW in the hands of Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley and Michael Dinan would secure the GTD victory as it led much of the afternoon thanks to having the pace and, as Auberlen put it, consistently strategizing their way into the lead. But the car had an undiagnosed issue that saw them lose a bit of speed. They would fall well off the podium when they had to make an extra stop to put Foley back into the car because it appeared Auberlen was going to go over his maximum drive time.
Thus what appeared an unlikely contender took the GTD win. It would have been easy to count out he No. 47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari; the car was involved in incidents throughout the race and was far from the same color scheme it started the race with thanks to a red door and lots of tape. But in the closing laps, with the up-to-then juggernaut of the Turner Motorsport BMW fading, Antonio Fuoco swept into the lead that he held to the end, sharing the win with Giorgio Sernagiotto and Roberto Lacorte.
“I think we know here in America is always like this — you can have some up and down,” said Fuoco. “Today I think it was the day to get a lot of up and down. We went from the front to the back. We had a small crash, we put some tape on the car just to continue.
“The guys did a really, really good job — Robert and George, they kept pushing. In the end I think I did my job. We had really good pace. So I’m really happy to have won this race and I would like to thank all the team because it is an amazing job. This race is for all of us.”
The No. 32 Gilbert Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG of Mike Skeen, Stevan McAleer and Daniel Juncadella finished second, followed by polesitter Toni Vilander in the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari with Luis Perez Company and Simon Mann.