Team SAFEisFAST went to Sebring on a high from its recent success at the 24 hours of Daytona. The team entered two Daytona Prototype’s and one McLaren GT3 car. There were also a lot of new faces on the team to fill the roster for the three cars, which will continue for the remainder of the 2016 season and some of the longer races.
The #18 DP team (Kevin Enderman, Pablo R Silveira, Wyatt Winfield, Dave Beland) was qualified in fourth place by Kevin Endermann and at the start he moved up to second and was fighting for the lead. Enderman was faster than the leader and after being patient he was able to gain the lead for 45 mins before the end of his stint.
Enderman handed over the car to Silveira, who continued on with a solid run. He reported he had three moments but they did not result in any spins or damage. Silveira then handed the car over to Winfield. He put in laps and the team managed to stay around the battle for fourth and third as the pitstop sequences were worked out.
Winfield handed the car back to Silveira at around the halfway point of the race. He was in fourth when he had a bit of a moment with a lapped BMW. There was some light contact that caused the other car to spin, but both continued without major problems.
After that, Beland got in the car for the first time in fifth. Beland reported that he had an uneventful double stint in the car until his final pit stop when another Daytona Prototype dive-bombed him as he was about to pit and they made contact. This almost caused Beland to spin the car. Although he was able to save the moment, he made an unsafe pit entry during the recovery and received a 15 second penalty as a result.
As the race finished the #18 car crossed the line in 5th place with a two-lap cushion to sixth place.
The #9 DP team (Jeremy Robles, Sergey Pupko Jr, Drew Bickel) had qualified in second place thanks to Robles, but at the start he got passed and moved back to third. Later that lap, at turn 17, he capitalized on a mistake and attempted to regain second but then a bit of a bad moment with a GT car that spun Robles and he made contact with the wall. The resulting pit stop to repair the damage lost the car one lap.
Pupko Jr took over as the car was in 11th place and over his 90-minute stint he managed to battle back to fifth place as he showed good pace (the same as the leader) and to fight back up the field.
Bickel then got in the car, but about 10 laps into his stint his computer monitor went black, which forced him to restart the PC. During the time it took to re-boot his computer the team was losing laps. Bickel got back in the car and was pushing hard we he went wide into the grass at Turn 16, lost control of the rear and spun into the inside wall. This caused an eight-minute suspension repair.
Robles got back into the car and battled hard with laptimes that were again on the same pace of the leaders. He had put in almost a full 90-minute stint when his house’s electricity went out. As he races on a laptop which is hooked up to a flat screen TV he could still hear the car running, but there was no power flowing to his TV or steering wheel. Fortunately, iRacing just reset the car to the pit lane without damage as Robles had no internet connection.
Pupko Jr then jumped into the car for 45 minutes while Robles fixed his issues and had no problems. Robles then came back for another 45-minute stint and both drivers were battling back in ninth place. After that, Bickel got back in the car after making some changes to his graphics driver to prevent the screen freezes.
Bickel was pushing pretty hard because the car had the pace. He passed most of the top five and even the leader to gain laps back. He then caught up to seventh and passed him on the track and pulled out a 10-second gap before he needed to pit.
Robles got back in the car and emerged in eighth on the same lap as the car running in seventh and he moved up to sixth when the two cars in front both pitted.
Bickel returned to the car for the final hour and had a two-lap cushion over the car behind and when the team running in fifth pitted he made up one lap and was right behind them on the track as he crossed the finish line in sixth.
Victor started for The SAFEisFAST GT team in an all GT field of 42 cars. He made it to lap nine when he had a slide and tried to save it, but he hit the wall and caused 13 minutes of repair time. After the pitstop the car lost a bit of speed but wasn’t too compromised overall.
Jason Hall is a new driver to our GT team and he produced a strong and uneventful stint, which featured only a small spin but no damage. Caeton Bomersbach is another new driver and he took over the wheel after Hall. He did kept it clean, but a small spin at one point meant he had to fight his way from 33rd place to 29th.
Chris Beaufait also joined the team and he kept things clean and putting in a steady pace throughout his stint. He gave plenty of room to lapping GT cars and keeping the car clean during his stint.
Mathieu, one of the original team members when SAFEisFAST was founded who left the team to manage his own HPD prototype team, was welcomed back for this race. He did two full stints (60 laps) with zero damage and no drama.
After that, Bomersbach got back in the car and was putting in consistent laps. But as he let the leader by he went a bit wide and picked up some dirt on the tyres (a new feature to iRacing) and this caused him to spin and some small repairs. Bomersbach then felt a bit tired so he handed the car back to Mathieu to fill in for him.
Ed did his stints and without much practice time due to work. He had no major issues and near the end of the race the team was really working hard to gain back ground. Ed handed over to Bomersbach, who took over for the final hour. He came out of the pits in P22 and kept that position to the end of the race.
All three teams had strong races and battled through the hard times. Endurance racing is all about making the best out of what you given with and adapting with it. 12 hours is a long race and Sebring is one of the toughest tracks in the world.
Team SAFEisFAST Final Result: DP #18 Team: Position 5th
DP #9 Team: Position 6th GT3 Team: Positon 22nd