Race Report by George Angelidis
Images by Jerry Chen
Broadcast by Ross “Tnadz” Smith
March 6, 2021 – On a rain-soaked day at Sebring, Ben Boorman almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the historic era of sports car racing, in his Rookie Monsters Porsche 917K car to the overall win at the 1.2 Hours of Sebring. He ultimately finished 2nd coming from dead last some mere 30 secs of winner Ahmed Abdalla, who marked his first win VWSC in 1971 and Scuderia Cavalli Ferrari’s maiden victory.
The weather-plagued race played into the advantage of the German car, which took five of the top 10 finishing positions overall, and remarkably majority being Purist entries, typically splitting the top of the field with the Pro class.
S 5.0 – Purist
Ben Boorman with his Porsche 917K, endured through a near-record 70% wet race duration (the longest in any VWSC series), despite having started from the rear of the 20-car field due to not having the car ready for qualifying.
The Englishman was up to 10th overall by Lap 8 and into the top-five just ten laps later and remained in the hunt throughout the first half of the race.
Boorman’s magic driving, on Firestone’s specification wet weather tires, 20 mins before the end saw him pass the No. 40 Storm Rider Racing Lola T70 Chevrolet of Joe Miller for second place.
Ben Boorman (Porsche) attacking Ross Smith (Lola) in Purist.
But it would be Ahmed Abdalla that took his first win and his new team’s, Scuderia Cavalli, a first victory largely uncontested. It wasn’t without mistakes, but in the end, it had all it takes to stay in front.
Ross Smith in the sole n00n Racing Lola entry was content to finish ahead of his major competition bar his encounter with Jason Whited. Smith with his 4 points kept n00n Racing in the top of the Championship and himself still 2nd in the standings behind his teammate.
George Angelidis would have a lackluster race. Unable to find a good gap to throw a qualifying lap he started well down the order and hadn’t the same luck as Boorman in carving through the field. He got then involved in a fascinating scrap with independent Porsche driver, Cosimo Strepone, and Pro class driver Jon Uyan also in a Porsche.
The 3 of them would alternate positions every 3 laps or so due to mistakes from either going off. Streppone prevailed at the end of the trio 11 secs clear of Angelidis and Uyan a little further down.
S 5.0 – Pro
Jason Whited would have one of the races in his career to remember. Voted as “Driver of the day” he would run in the Top 3 close to his teammate. He then managed to bridge out a gap to Purist-class Lola driver, Ross Smith, prior to Smith slamming the back of his car in Pit Lane. With a damaged car and now many positions down, he drove the race of his life to go from 7th to 3rd overall and win his class gaining advantage of the 2 Pit Strategy of his teammate.
“Honestly, the last stint I did in the car, in a soaked track, was the hardest stint I’ve ever had in my life and it’s the most concentration I’ve ever had to put into driving a race car,” Whited said afterward.
It marked the first class victory for Storm Rider Racing in the 1971 Virtual World SportsCar Championship and a unique 1-2 courtesy of teammate Joe Miller, achieved in the span of just three months since the creation of the team.
“Joe Miller’s pass of Ross Smith on the outside in the wet at Sunset while a lapped car was on the inside in the dark, was an example of total commitment,” said Cara Adams, motorsports director, Firestone North America.
Joe Miller (Strom Riding Racing Lola) leading Pro class early on.
“Having caught the n00n car, he was not going to be denied. That was a truly great pass.”
Jerry Chen would continue improving on his performance finishing a career-high in the 917K of 4th place, however not enough points to keep his CMS Pro Porsche team from dropping 2nd to the Championship that is now led by the Storm Rider Racing Lolas.
Wouter de Bruijn leaves Florida disappointed after the win at Daytona. The change of venue didn’t help him much and a technical issue dropped him from the race going down a lap.
Finally, Mark Jones would be awarded the “Save of the Race”, a full almost drift coming out of Sunset Bend that was barely stopped just before the Pit Wall entrance.
Wooter de Bruijn still leads the Championship with 18.5 points, 3.5 from Jason Whited, with Uyan into 3rd with 13 points.
S 5.0 – Am
A win for Wayne Hutchison came but it wasn’t so dominant this time. Teammate Guilherme Bencke had a phenomenal wet showing some skill in the wet. He would lead early on while Hutchison struggled, but a problem in his Pit Stop would put him 2 laps down in 5th. He recovered through passing both Stian Gjorvad and Dan Minges, who both faced struggles in the race. The 1-3 finish really propelled the Lady of Sorrows Racing Lolas 26.5 points ahead of the competition.
Wayne Hutchison (pictured) taking his 2nd win.
In the Driver’s Championship Wayne Hutchison now leads the Championship over 9 points (24 points) from Dan Minges (15 points). Guilherme Bencke completes the Top 3 with 8 points.
With the entire field on wet tires (except for Colin Moore trying his luck at the last stage of the race), Firestone, Goodyear, and the teams hope to race on a “non-soaked” weekend at Brands Hatch, but judging that the Kent venue had been notorious for Spring downpours the paddock was overly quiet…
With Sebring looming on the horizon, presenting yet another unique challenge compared to either Daytona or Motegi, all the teams have their work cut out for them!