Scott McLaughlin has driven Tower Motorsports to the top step of the LMP2 podium at today’s 12 Hours of Sebring following a late charge.
The 12 Hours of Sebring is an event known for some thrilling finales and this one didn’t disappoint, a late crash shuffling up the order in big ways and seeing only two of eight GTP class Hypercars still running at the chequered flag.
So chaotic was the race that not only did McLaughlin and his co-drivers John Farano and Kyffin Simpson top their class, they also finished third overall.
The team had started strongly and led at the halfway point after a solid early stint from the Kiwi before he handed over to Simpson.
Another difficult outing seemed on the cards when Simpson hit the wall in the second half of the race, however he was able to limp back to the pits for repairs.
They quickly made back ground on those ahead, inpart aided by several Safety Car interventions but also from a massive charge from McLaughlin late on.
A pileup in the closing stages bunched the field up and allowed for one final restart with only four minutes remaining. McLaughlin quickly worked to the front off this, holding on to take class honours over the #11 of Steven Thomas, Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker by just .8 seconds, and extremely tight margin after a full 12 hours of racing.
It was the Action Express Racing Cadillac which took overall victory as the first of the GTP cars home. They too had been in the wars early when they collided with a LMP3 car which required several stops to repair the front of the car.
They had shown great pace early and been in the mix, sharing the lead with Champ Ganassi Racing’s entry which featured New Zealander Scott Dixon. Whilst Action Express Racing were able to recover from their incident it wasn’t to be for CGR when their #1 entry caught fire in the pit lane with fuel distribution issues.
Dixon and his teammates Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande had led 120 laps by this point and was sitting comfortably in second and well within a shot at overall success.
It also wasn’t to be for fellow Kiwi Tom Blomqvist who was at the helm of the Meyer Shank Racing Acura when a left-rear wheel detached and forced them from the race.
The GTP battle remained tight until the very dying stages with a number of position changes and light contact not causing damage.
That changed right towards the end of the race with the #9 Porsche driver Mathieu Jaminet holding off the Acura piloted by Felipe Albuquerque as they approached a line of traffic.
Jaminet veered right to to pass a GTD competitor, only for Albuquerque to be on his inside and attempting a move of his own for the race lead. He spun into the wall and over the grass, collecting Jaminet who had made contact with one of the GTD cars following their contact at the upcoming left hander.
Cars sprawled across the track and onto the outside grass with the then-third Felipe Nasr, also of Porsche, smashing into the bunch and launching slightly airborne over his teammate.
Porsche and Jaminet’s misery worked wonders for the #31 Cadillac, Jack Aitken suddenly finding himself from sitting in fourth to now leading.
The Brit help on to take race victory for himself, Alexander Sims and Pipo Deranioff the restart, their only GTP competition remaing being the #25 BMW which finished second with Connor de Phillipi, Sheldon van der Linde and Nick Yelloly as its drivers.
This left third overall open for the first of the LMP2 competitors, McLaughlin doing his job superbly to add a further trophy to an already bustling trophy cabinet.
“Proud of this one! Sebring 12 Hour – LMP2 winners!!,” McLaughlin said on social media following the race. “What a great job by Kyffin, John and the whole team at Tower. Ticked that one off the list!”
Jaxon Evans was the sole Kiwi competitor in GTD, his KellyMoss x Riley Motorsport entry, the team performing well to come home sixth in class of a 20 car field.