Alex Job Racing Earns 10th Sebring Win
SEBRING, Fla. - Team Seattle -The Heart of Racing scores its first-ever TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTD class win in Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway. The win gives Alex Job Racing 10 career Sebring victories.
Team-Seattle drivers Mario Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany), Ian James (Phoenix, Ariz.), and Alex Riberas (Barcelona , Spain) endured several mid-race challenges, including giving up the lead with 10 minutes to go in the 12-hour race to hold on for the win.
Farnbacher started from the GTD front row and took the early race lead. In fact, he led almost his entire first stint before handing the No. 23 Team Seattle Porsche 911 GT America over to James. James drove a brilliant first stint, keeping the car in the top two, before he came to pit lane for tires and fuel. That's when the first of several issues, the team had to endure throughout the race, happened. There was a problem with the refueling hose. It prevented all of the fuel from getting into the car. The team fixed the issue and moved on.
On lap 69, under yellow, Riberas took the reins of the now fifth-place No. 23 machine and promptly made contact with another Porsche leaving his pit box. Fortunately there was not any serious damage to the car, but he restarted the race in ninth. From there, he drove a great stint to put the car in the top three before Farnbacher got back in.
Throughout the middle of the race, all three drivers did multiple stints and kept the Alex Job Racing-prepared Porsche consistently in the top five. On lap 207, Riberas just completed a green flag pit stop, where he took tires and fuel. But, before he completed his first circuit on the new tires, the right rear tire blew out - causing damage to the rear bumper. He promptly made a pit stop to get some new tread and pull the damaged bumper from the No. 23 Porsche.
From there, Riberas dropped to seventh place, but worked his way up to third with two hours remaining - that's when Farnbacher got back in the car for his final double stint. The young German driver finally took the lead with about an hour to go in the race.
But, the drama wasn't over. With 10 minutes to go - and with Alex Job Racing looking to capture its 10th Sebring win - Farnbacher had a problem with his brakes and went off in Turn 10. At this point, he gave up the lead to the No. 33 Viper. But, as luck would have it, the No. 33 had problems of its own with about five minutes to go in the race. The Viper pulled down pit lane, giving Farnbacher the lead for good.
"I had no brakes at the end of the race," Farnbacher said. "Unbelievable. The first stint was pretty hard, I was battling with the Aston Martin and the Viper. I really beat up the front tires. With the new set of tires and the cooler temperatures I was good at the end until I started to lose the brakes. I struggled to keep the Viper behind me and then he went past. I thought it was over. The team radioed and said he pitted and got out of the car and that I had 10 seconds lead on the Aston. I just kept my focus and brought the car home for the win. It is a great feeling to get this team their first win, especially at Sebring!"
James was elated to get his third-career Sebring win.
"This is my third win at Sebring, ten years to the day since my last one," James said. "Amazing. We have such a great team. Super Mario was the hero of the day and Alex did a great job as well. Phil Pierce (engineer), Mike Evans (strategy) did a great job together with the crew on the pit stops. It was hard racing all day, I love life right now. Gabe Newell gave us great support. The Viper is a little faster car and got by us at the end. Then the Viper pulled in and Mario was back in the lead with two laps to go. There is no give up in this team. Thanks to Gabe Newell for the support and we are all proud to give Alex his tenth Sebring win."
Riberas, who joined the team for the two endurance races (Daytona and Sebring) was almost speechless at the team's accomplishment. In fact, he lost his voice at the end of the race.
"What a great win," Riberas said. "We fought hard all day. We were one of the fastest cars in practice and Mario qualified us on the front row. The team did a great job with the pit stops and they had us up front with the strategy. I handed the car over to Mario in the lead and he was able to keep focus while his brake pads were going and take the win. This is my first win in America and I hope the first of many more with this great team."
"Wow, ten wins at Sebring," Job said. "Super Mario brought it home for us. We went through the full range of emotions at the end. Mario was leading after the final pit stop and then Jeroen (Bleekemolen) went by in the Viper. Mario's brakes were going so we were talking to him to keep second position. Then Jeroen came into the pits and Mario was back in the lead. He did a great job to bring the car home for the win. Ian and Alex did had fantastic runs all day and had the car up in the top five all race. We had good strategy and great pit stops. The only hiccup we had was a flat tire in the late afternoon, but we were able to overcome that and take the win. What a day!"
Alex Job Racing has ten Sebring victories in 2015, 2013, 2012 (one-two in GTC), 2010 (one-two-three in GTC), 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 1999 and 1995, four in a row
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next heads to the streets of Long Beach, Calif. for the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach April 17-18.
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