No. 25 BMW Leads Sebring at Eight-Hour Mark after No. 31 Cadillac Crashes Out

By Mark Robinson

IMSA Wire Service

As the heat picked up on a sultry afternoon at Sebring International Raceway, so did the intensity of competition in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac. With four hours to go in the iconic endurance race, the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 led the race shortly after the reigning winner No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R was eliminated in a spectacular crash.

The final four hours of the 72nd Twelve Hours of Sebring, as the race leans into nighttime, air live on USA Network and Peacock.

Maxime Martin was aboard the No. 25 BMW, the car he shares this weekend with Connor De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly, as it led at the eight-hour mark. Just over 30 minutes earlier, four-time Sebring overall winner Pipo Derani was leading in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac when the car veered off track and into the Turn 10 tire bundles after the No. 31 made slight contact with the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 driven by Miguel Molina.

Derani’s car launched on top of the tires and landed upside down. IMSA’s AMR Safety Team was immediately on the scene and, with assistance from a crane to lift the car, Derani climbed from the cockpit on his own and waved to the crowd. The Brazilian was evaluated and released from the infield care center, as was Molina.

“One of those days when things go upside down literally,” Derani said. “Fortunately, everything was all right, the safety crew was there quite quickly. … In general, I didn’t feel any pain, nothing. I think the tire barriers reduced the impact by quite a lot. Thanks for the safety crew as well, for the car and everyone who showed up here to see if I was OK.”

Derani wasn’t sure what happened in the incident with the Ferrari.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “I was 12 seconds ahead and everything was running smooth. We overtake thousands of thousands of cars through a race like this. It’s one of those moments. Maybe he didn’t see, let go a little bit and there I was. Maybe I was expecting him to just hold his line to the right, knowing that I was going to go on the left. It’s just one of those situations where it happens without you having any chance of thinking whether you should have done something different or not.”

Even with the No. 31 Cadillac’s departure, nine GTP cars and all five manufacturers – including Lamborghini making its WeatherTech Championship debut – remained on the lead lap after eight hours of grueling competition in temperatures nearing 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Following Martin in the No. 25 BMW were Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963, Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06, Louis Deletraz in the sister No. 40 WTRAndretti Acura, Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 BMW M Team RLL BMW, Scott Dixon in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac, Dane Cameron in the No. 7 Penske Porsche, Romain Grosjean in the No. 63 Lamborghini Iron Lynx Lamborghini SC63 and Gianmaria Bruni in the No. 5 Proton Competition Porsche.

Other class leaders at the eight-hour mark were: Tom Dillman in the No. 52 Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 in Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Michael Christensen in the No. 77 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R in Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) and Frederik Schandorff in the No. 70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 Evo in Grand Touring Daytona (GTD).

The Twelve Hours of Sebring is the second race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and is also the second of five races making up the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, which offers a separate points competition to determine the best drivers, teams and manufacturers in the endurance races. Endurance points are being awarded at the four- and eight-hour marks at Sebring as well as the finish.

The Michelin Endurance Cup season leaders after eight hours at Sebring were: the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac in GTP, the No. 52 Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA in LMP2, the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 in GTD PRO and the No. 70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 Evo in GTD.