March 21 was scheduled to be the 68th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. An event long listed among the crown jewels of motorsports. However, like every major sporting event in North America, round two of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Michelin Pilot Challenge, have been rescheduled in efforts to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The pair of races will now be run as their championship’s finale on the weekend of November 11 – 14 at the Sebring, Florida race circuit. The FIA World Endurance Championship’s 1,000-miles of Sebring, also scheduled as part of the famous endurance “Super Sebring” weekend, has been cancelled.
The changes to the race calendar have put a “pause” on the effort by the Porsche GT Team to continue a long-history of success for the German sports car manufacturer at the 3.74-mile circuit laid out on the former World War II bomber airfield. The most recent Porsche wins came in 2018 and 2019 when Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) earned GTLM class honors in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR in consecutive years. The program will bring the newest GTLM class competitor, the Porsche 911 RSR-19 race car, to the oldest sports car race in North America for the first time in November. Makowiecki and Tandy will be joined by Australian Matt Campbell in the No. 911’s pursuit of a three-peat. The full driving team of the No. 912 returns for 2020 with 2019 WeatherTech GTLM-class champions Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) again teaming with Mathieu Jaminet (France) for the endurance rounds like Sebring.
Three additional Porsche race cars were on the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class entry list at the time of the rescheduling. Customer programs include the Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars entered by Pfaff Motorsports, Wright Motorsports and Black Swan Racing. The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R is shared by 2019 WeatherTech Sprint Cup Champion Zacharie Robichon (Canada), Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Porsche Test and Development Driver Lars Kern (Germany). The No. 16 Wright Motorsports racer will be shared by North America’s only Porsche Factory Driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) and Anthony Imperato (Brooklyn. New York) while the No. 54 Black Swan car has team principal Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts), Jeroen Bleekemolen (The Netherlands) and Larry ten Voorde (The Netherlands).
The Michelin Pilot Challenge field will see two more Porsche customer cars in the GS class in November. Archangel Motorsports has entered its bright neon yellow Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 Clubsport for Alan Brynjoffsson (Tampa, Florida) and Trent Hindman (Wayside, New Jersey). BGB Motorsports will also field Porsche’s international GT4 contender, with starting number 38, for drivers Thomas Collingwood (Canada) and Jan Heylen (Dunedin, Florida).
Porsche history at Sebring dates back to 1953 when Richard Toland entered a Porsche 356. The German marque’s first win came in 1960 when Hans Herrmann and Oliver Gendebien piloted a Porsche 718 RS 60 to overall victory nine laps ahead of second-place, the Brumos Racing-entered Porsche 718 RS 60. Since that time, Porsche has accumulated nearly every significant performance record at the former US Army Air Corp airfield. The German sports car maker holds extensive leads in the categories of most overall wins (18), class wins (72), GT class wins (30, since 1979), GT pole positions (16), most overall laps led (4,198 laps for a total of 19,997.4 miles) and the Porsche 911, in several variants, has won a staggering 33 times in the 65 years Porsche has entered a car in the race. In fact, at least one Porsche has competed at Sebring every year since 1953 – 65 straight races, there was no race in 1974. This is also a record for Manufacturers.
Ken Breslauer, Media Director, Track Historian, Sebring International Raceway.
“No manufacturer has had a bigger impact on Sebring’s history than Porsche. With 18 overall wins and 72 class victories, Porsche has a well-earned reputation of success at what many consider the world’s toughest circuit. Not surprisingly, Porsche and Sebring are synonymous with endurance racing. When you look at the signs above the Sebring pits that show the winners of the previous 67 12-hour classics, you understand the impact Porsche has had on Sebring. We’d like to think our circuit has played a role in Porsche’s success by providing an event that is true test of endurance, where a manufacturer can make history.”
Porsche History. Porsche Motorsport at Sebring.
Overall Wins. 18 (Manufacturer Record, Six ahead of its nearest rival, Ferrari)
Class Wins. 72 (Manufacturer Record, 43 ahead of its nearest rival, Corvette)
13-Year Winning Streak. 1976 – 1988 (Manufacturer Record)
Most GT Pole Positions. 16 (Manufacturer Record)
Most GT Class Fastest Race Laps. 15 (Manufacturer Record)
GT Class Wins. 30 (since 1979)
Porsche 911 Wins. 33 Overall and Class Victories
Overall Fastest Race Laps. 14 (Manufacturer Record)
Fastest Overall Race Lap. 130.707 mph (by Derek Bell, 1986, Porsche 962)
Most Overall Laps Led. 4,198 laps for a total of 19,997.4 miles (Manufacturer Record) – Ferrari is second at 2,743 and 13,099.1 respectively)
Most Years Leading Overall. 25 of its 65 years (Manufacturer Record) – three more years than Ferrari, its nearest competitor.
– At least one Porsche has competed at Sebring every year since 1953 – 65 straight races, there was no race in 1974. (Manufacturer Record)
– Porsche scored its 72nd class win at Sebring in 2019, GTLM Class, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
– Porsche won both GT classes in 2014 – Porsche 911 RSR in GTLM and Porsche 911 GT America.
– Hurley Haywood has 28 starts at the 12 Hours of Sebring (27 of them in Porsches) – Four more than his nearest rival. He has won twice, 1973 (Porsche Carrera) and 1981 (Porsche 935).
– Porsche has won the last two GTLM class races at Sebring with the combination of Frédéric Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy. Makowiecki and Tandy, along with Matt Campbell, will challenge for a third-consecutive win in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 at the re-scheduled 68th Running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on November 14.
Porsche Overall Winners at Sebring.
1960 – Hans Herrmann/Oliver Gendebien Porsche 718 RS 60
1968 – Hans Hermann/Jo Siffert – Porsche 907
1971 – Vic Elford/Gerald Larrousse – Porsche 917
1973 – Hurley Haywood/Peter Gregg/Dave Helmick – Porsche Carrera
1976 – Al Holbert/Michael Keyser – Porsche Carrera
1977 – George Dyer/Brad Frisselle – Porsche Carrera
1978 – Brian Redman/Charles Mendez/Bob Garretson – Porsche 935
1979 – Bob Akin/Roy Woods/Rob McFarlin – Porsche 935
1980 – Dick Barbour/John Fitzpatrick – Porsche 935 K3
1981 – Hurley Haywood/Al Holbert/Bruce Leven – Porsche 935
1982 – John Paul, Sr./John Paul, Jr. – Porsche 935
1983 – Kees Nierop/Wayne Baker/Jim Mullen – Porsche 934
1984 – Stefan Johansson/Mauricio DeNarvaez/Hans Heyer – Porsche 935
1985 – A.J. Foyt/Bob Wollek – Porsche 962
1986 – Hans Stuck/Bob Akin/Jo Gartner – Porsche 962
1987 – Bobby Rahal/Jochen Mass – Porsche 962
1988 – Klaus Ludwig/Hans Stuck – Porsche 962
2008 – Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Emmanuel Collard – Porsche RS Spyder