Acura Teams Fight to the Finish at SebringBlog Mar 19th, 2023
- Late-race crash while contesting victory ends run for the Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06
- Mechanical issue delays Meyer Shank Racing Acura
- Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22s see promising runs ended by contact
As so often happens in IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship racing, the 71st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring all came down to the final hour of the classic endurance race. Unfortunately, a mechanical issue and late-race contact while contesting for the win resulted in disappointment for Acura, its teams and drivers.
Both cars led multiple times and appeared poised to contend for the victory throughout the afternoon and into the night, but with less than two hours remaining, a suspension failure resulted in the left-rear wheel coming off the #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura. Quick work by the MSR crew saw the #60 return for the final 20 minutes and be credited with a sixth-place result.
The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 remained in the thick of the multi-car battle for the victory until just 20 minutes remained in the 12-hour race. While working their way through GT-class traffic, the #7 of Mathieu Jaminet made contact with Filipe Albuquerque in the WRT/Andretti Acura, sending Albuquerque off onto the grass and then back on track where the two cars collided again, with several other cars involved in the resulting chain reaction crash. Fortunately, all drivers appeared to be uninjured.
Acura NSX GT3 Evo22
In the production-based GTD class, both Acura NSX GT3 Evo22s from Gradient Racing and Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR saw their promising runs blunted by contact.
The #66 Gradient Racing Acura of Katherine Legge, Sheena Monk and Marc Miller persevered to a 12th-place finish despite being hit twice by other cars. The initial contact came in the third hour, when the #6 GTP struck the right front corner of the Acura, with the collision taking off a large portion of the fender, including the right headlight. The Gradient Acura was then hit from behind following a seventh-hour restart, further damaging the lights, bodywork and diffuser.
After qualifying on the GTD pole on Friday, the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Acura of Danny Formal, Ashton Harrison and Kyle Marcelli frequently led the class for the first half of the contest. However, in the sixth hour, contact with another GTD car shortly after a restart resulted in heavy damage to the front of the NSX GT-3, and the car was retired from the race.
Rolex 24 Race Results
- 4th GTP – #10 Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz and Ricky Taylor; Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06
- 6th GTP – #60 Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun and Helio Castroneves; Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06
- 12th GTD – #66 Katherine Legge, Marc Miller and Sheena Monk; Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22
- 19th GTD – #93 Danny Formal, Ashton Harrison and Kyle Marcelli; Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 – not running
Filipe Albuquerque (#10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06) 4th in GTP: “What a sad ending. I think we had a little bit of an edge on [the competition], but staying behind it was super hard to follow, so [a pass] needed to be done in traffic. The traffic came and I saw a hole, tight, but I saw it. I think I was there and then there was contact with the two of us, and the second touch threw me completely in the grass and I couldn’t stop the car then I was a bowling ball, just knocking cars down. It was pretty brutal where I got hit once and then somebody hit me. I just felt like I was getting thrown from one side to another, but these cars are safe and I’m good, that’s what’s most important. It’s sad to not get the win when we had such a strong car. The WTRAndretti team, they put a lot of energy into this. I’m not a guy to finish P2, I give it my all and I would do the same again.”
Tom Blomqvist (#60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06): 6th in GTP: “We were looking pretty good for at least a podium [top-three] finish, I think, until the wheel came off. Unfortunately, that impacted our race massively, which is a huge shame. These things happen. We just need to learn from it and mitigate the issue so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Katherine Legge (#66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22) 12th in GTD: “It was such a frustrating race for us. We were so quick in the morning warmup [fourth in GTD] that I felt like we were in for a very good day. Then [co-driver] Mark [Miller] just got cleaned out by a GTP car, which destroyed our aero and handling. After that, we were just trying to salvage what we could, and get a few [championship] points. Then I got hit from behind on a restart, which damaged the diffuser and the team again had to dive in and make repairs just so we could make it to the finish. I can’t say enough about our team, the gave their all today, as did Marc and Sheena [Monk].”
Kyle Marcelli (#93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo22) 19th in GTD: “We came into this weekend full of excitement and confidence after such a strong showing at [the Roles 24 at] Daytona. The weekend started off great. We were quick in all of the practices, top five every time. And then we snagged the pole and everything was looking good, until it wasn’t. We just got caught up in some drama during Ashton’s [Harrison] stint. No fault of hers. A car spun off track a few cars ahead and there was just sort of a stack up that we couldn’t avoid. It was just a freak accident and you hate to see it. Unfortunately it put us out of the race.”
David Salters (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring: “First, as always, massive thanks to all the hard-working men and women of HPD, ORECA, our teams and all our partners that make this possible. We were there. Our cars were fast throughout the race. And what a race it was, a hell of a race. We were there fighting. It didn’t work out for us today, but there you go, that’s racing. On to the next one.”
- Acura Motorsports and its performance arm, Honda Performance Development, have recorded a total of eight victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring, including three class wins for Acura, four LMP2 class wins under the HPD umbrella, and an overall win in 2016.
- Acura is a three-time series DPi champion since joining the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2018, claiming the Manufacturer, Driver and Team DPi titles in 2019, 2020 and again in 2022, the final season in the DPi era.
The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now moves west to Southern California for the April 14-16 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
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