Mazda narrowly misses a repeat of its 2020 win by 1.4 seconds at a gruelling 12 Hours of Sebring

March 23, 2021
mazda pole position - sebring 2021

The Multimatic Motorsports team leaves Sebring tired but fired up for the season ahead after an extremely tough test of drivers, team and equipment.  In one of the closest finishes in the history of the race, five DPi cars took the chequered flag in a tight group, covered by only five seconds, with the #55 Mazda RT24-P fighting right to the end for the lead while still having to defend an aggressive attack from behind.  Although the finishing order would have placed Multimatic and its drivers in a clear lead of the championship, a penalty given to the third place #48 car pushed it down the order and allowed the #10 to gather enough points to jump the #55 by a slim eight point margin.

Despite not having the outright pace of the Cadillacs, the team used a combination of outstanding driving, creative strategy and impeccable pit stop execution to stay in the hunt and ultimately take a shot at the win.  Unfortunately, in the last laps of the race, Harry Tincknell got caught between the #5 and #48 Cadillacs with Bourdais and Kobayashi behind their respective steering wheels both driving with a win-or-crash approach.  Holding position for the last few laps was the only guarantee of any kind of finish.
In addition to a good haul of points towards the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Mazda also gathered maximum points towards the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup standings at both the four and eight-hour marks of the race by leading the race.

mazda cornering - sebring 2021

Twelve hours of racing at Sebring can be as gruelling as 24 hours at Daytona and ‘gruelling’ was the word on everyone’s lips after the 2021 race. Every single lap was run at sprint race pace but while other DPi competitors were involved in multiple dramas, the #55 Mazda stayed out of trouble, stayed on the lead lap, and took the best possible result in an event where the Cadillacs were strong on pace and aggression.  
Larry Holt, Executive Vice President – Multimatic Special Vehicle Operations, said: “That was a manic 12 hours of racing, probably the wildest we have ever run.  My go-to strategy of staying on the lead lap and out of trouble using a conservative pace had to go out the window when we found ourselves almost a minute down at the three-hour mark.  Luckily we got a yellow just as Harry climbed in the car for the first time and we smoked everybody in the lane and came out in the lead, which we held at the four-hour mark to take the Endurance Cup points.  From then on it was flat out, with no real drama beyond having a load of radio problems.  I gotta give a nod to our spotter, Chris Long, who saw that the 48 car didn’t take the class split at one point and so we passed everybody and drove up to the pace car and JB held it through the eight-hour mark for another haul of Endurance Cup points.  At the end Harry just had to hold on as Sebastian wasn’t giving up a hard fought win without a crash and Kamui went after him like at Daytona leaving holes in our bodywork all over the place.  But this time Harry didn’t give it up.”

mazda 3/4 view - sebring 2021

Last time he raced at Sebring, Harry Tincknell joined a long list of famous outright winners of this event. He wanted to do the double but second place is the next best thing and, in terms of championship position, the team is now in a good place.
“That was another great race at Sebring,” said Tincknell. “We’ve had a consistent start to the year and after 36 hours of racing we are in a good position in the standings. We didn’t have the fastest car today but we maximised everything we had. Perfect pit stops and clever, well-executed strategy and maximum attack from everyone got the job done for us today. I had no radio for the last two stints, which made it pretty intense as I had no communication with the spotter or the stand so I had to navigate the safety car procedure without guidance and also had to work out when to come in for fuel, which really adds to the mental stress. You can’t win every race but the next best thing to do is finish second and we’re now looking good in terms of the championship fight.”

mazda sunset - sebring 2021

Oliver Jarvis knows how punishing Sebring can be and it’s not just the notorious bumps that you have to look out for. With numerous incidents throughout the race, all three drivers did a great job to steer clear of trouble.
“That was probably one of the toughest races of my career,” said Jarvis. “It was gruelling from start to finish. We didn’t quite have the pace, of the Cadillacs in particular, which didn’t make life easy but the team was flawless throughout in the pit stops and the strategy so we came away with a hard-earned P2. It’s a great result for the team and also for our championship challenge. We’ve got lots of work to do as we need to find a bit more pace before Mid-Ohio but the important thing is that we really managed to grind out a result this weekend.”
Jonathan Bomarito resisted an intense challenge for the lead during his second stint, coming under incredible pressure but the cool Californian wasn’t about to let anyone go by.
“That was a gruelling 12 hours,” said Bomarito. “We pushed through and never stopped challenging. It was a super stressful nail-biter at the end but we are now in second place in the championship. Onto the next one!”

mazda team podium - sebring 2021

The next race for the WeatherTech SportsCar teams takes place at Mid-Ohio, where the battle for the 2021 title will continue on May 16th.

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