Continental Tire Challenge: It’s Anybody’s Game at Sebring
Thursday, March 15, 2018
The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge has only been competing at Sebring International Raceway since 2014, and the records show there’s no rhyme or reason as to who might claim the victory in Friday’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120.
In a total of eight class races at the iconic 3.74-mile circuit – four Grand Sport (GS) and four Street Tuner (ST) – only Stevenson Motorsports, in 2014 and 2015 with drivers Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, has recorded multiple victories.
Six drivers entered in Friday’s two-hour race will be going for their second victory at Sebring, but at one of the toughest tracks in the world, it’s hard to come out on top.
"Sebring is incredibly difficult to win at,” said 2017 ST class winner Spencer Pumpelly. “It’s a unique track. The setup you employ doesn’t share a lot of things in common with other tracks. Your team has to be really creative to get the car to work over the bumps.”
Of all the teams in GS to watch this weekend, RS1 with Pumpelly and Dillon Machavern is at the top of the list in the No. 28 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR. The team snatched the pole and victory at the season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona in January after winning the 2017 GS championship.
“Sebring’s got a history and to put your name on the winner’s list there is a feat in and of itself,” added Pumpelly. “Last year, I was finally able to do it after years of trying and hopefully I’ll be able to do it again this year."
Another past winner at Sebring is Owen Trinkler, co-driver of the No. 46 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4. The 2016 ST class winner moves up to the GS class in 2018 with Ted Giovanis’ squad and hopes he can repeat his past success with new teammate Hugh Plumb.
“Sebring has been good to me and I have been competitive since competing here,” said Trinkler. “I competed in my first 12-hour race there in 1997. This track suits my driving style well and I actually like the bumps. So, we will see if I can keep the momentum going and grab a second win.”
While there has been a lack of repeat winners at Sebring, there has also never been a repeat pole winner. However, a variety of manufacturers have landed on the top step of the podium – Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Mazda, and Porsche, in particular.
Hoping to add Audi to that list will be Britt Casey Jr. in the No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS. He and co-driver Tom Long took the first ever victory in TCR, a class which debuted in January.
“It’s the hardest,” said Casey about Sebring. “This is a track where you’ll see weird things break that don’t break usually. It’s happened to me every year so far in practice. It’s just such a unique place with the bumps and still being able to turn the car over the bumps and have grip, it’s such a unique thing that usually doesn’t happen, but it happens here.”
See what happens here at the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 on Friday. The livestream begins at 2:45 p.m. ET on or the IMSA mobile app, with audio commentary provided by IMSA Radio.