The No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi spent the bulk of the 69th 12 Hours of Sebring outside of the top five, but when disaster struck the leader of the race, driver Sébastian Bourdais saw his opportunity. He took his teammates Loïc Duval and Tristan Vautier to victory.
A yellow flag flew in the latter part of the race after Timothe Buret suffered a huge accident that saw him rolling over and into the tire barriers. Everyone in the DPi class took that opportunity to sneak into the pits and make some final changes. And at that time, it looked like Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac would be asserting a comfortable lead to the checkered flag.
But that wasn’t meant to be. He and a GTLM machine made contact, which sent Dixon two laps down. Bourdais said he felt that was his chance—it was now or never. He pushed his way to the lead and held it to the end, even though the car lost the entire rear wing.
Making this win even more impressive is the fact that Duval collided with Jimmie Johnson early in the race, leaving the team a lap down for most of the event—and the fact that Vautier was hit by Felipe Nasr in the eighth hour of the event.
“It was not an easy one,” Duval said after the race. “We got cars in our way a few times, like at Daytona, but in the end the pace was getting better and better.
“They said the track was coming to us, and we got back into the lead lap. We saved some fuel to try and fight the other guys at the front. In the end we had the right strategy, Seb was on it, and you know how good he is when he feels comfortable with the car. That was it. It was a good team effort.
“We deserve it, we had so much bad luck, even last year here when we were fighting for the win also. Finally, to be able to get that for Mustang Sampling and Cadillac and JDC, it’s great.”
Bourdais was equally pleased, but he shed some light on what it was like to defend the lead without a wing:
“After the [last] restart, I lost the rear element, and the center of pressure shifted about six or eight percent forward,” he told NBCSN. “I thought I was going to crash in the last corner, and I had no idea I would be able to drive it. I just went full-stiffness front bar, full-stiffness rear bar and just hung in there. But that thing was so quick, and then I thought we lost it because without the rear wing it was gone.”
Here’s a rundown of podiums for each class:
- No. 5 Cadillac DPi: Tristan Vautier, Loïc Duval, Sébastian Bourdais
- No. 55 Mazda DPi: Oliver Jarvis, Harry Tincknell, Jonathan Bomarito
- No. 48 Cadillac DPi: Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud
- No. 52: Ben Keating, Mikkel Jensen, Scott Huffaker
- No. 18: Dwight Merriman, Kyle Tilley, Ryan Dalziel
- No. 22: James McGuire, Wayne Boyd, Guy Smith
- No. 78 Porsche 911: Cooper MacNiel, Mathieu Jaminet, Matt Campbell
- No. 25 BMW M8: Connor de Phillippi, Bruno Spengler
- No. 24 BMW M8: John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Augusto Farfus
- No. 9 Porsche 911: Zacharie Robichon, Laurens Vanthoor, Lars Kern
- No. 16 Porsche 911: Patrick Long, Jan Heylen, Trent Hindman
- No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage: Ian James, Roman de Angelis, Ross Gunn