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64th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida turned out to be one for the women!  Three women took the podium, (1 Friday and two Saturday).  Not since 2006 has a woman appeared on the podium.

Christina Nielsen, driver on the winning team for the GT Daytona (GTD) class and Ashley Freiberg, who finished second to Nielsen’s team as part of the Turner Motorsport No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 captured the podium for top finishes in the 12 Hours of Sebring event.

The Friday before the Twelve Hours, there was another female winner, Sarah Cattaneo in the Continental Tire Challenge Sebring 150.

Nielsen’s win came on the 60th anniversary year of Ferrari’s first victory at Sebring. And it was also the first win in North America for the new Ferrari 488 GT3 car. – See more at: http://www.imsa.com/articles/sebring

The weather was perfect early Saturday morning for a walk through the paddock in preparation for the hike down the starting grid.  It was obvious this year race teams came prepared to impress.  The paddock set-up for Corvette was undoubtedly the most impressive with a canopy the size of an airplane hangar…bordering on circus…oops, did I say that?  Patron had a very efficient paddock setup, as did BMW.

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BMW was the host for the on-track ride-experience.  A great hospitality tent and three street-track cars were on hand to shuttle Dealership VIP’s around the 3.7 mile track.

Organizers this year moved the grid line-up to pit lane in order to manage the crowds at race-time.   The crowds were thick this year with an estimated 80,000 spectators in attendance.   At times the crowds were so gathered it was impossible to get a good look at the cars.  Needless to say the Patron Girls created major gridlock.

With weather pending the race got off to a great start with both BMW M-6’s leading the GT & GTR class start.  Both BMW’s ran strong and showed there stuff throughout the morning.  Then the rains came and this writer baled-out to go grab lunch and wait-out the rains.  However, the monsoon set in and we headed back to Naples…catching the end of the race on the WWW at IMSA.com.

Tommy Milner (Corvette) passed the BMW M6 GTLM of Lucas Luhr for the class lead at the nine-hour, 38-minute mark.  From that point, the Corvette led all but one of the remaining laps, briefly relinquishing the lead on a pit stop. The battle saw Porsche, Ferrari and Ford also take turns in the lead in the highly competitive class.  Dirk Werner took the checkered flag in second place, 2.882 seconds behind, driving the No. 25 BMW Team RLL IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GTLM started from the pole by Bill Auberlen and also driven by Bruno Spengler. All three drivers took turns up front, leading five times for 61 laps.

All-in-all it was a good day at the track!  But then again, ANY day at the track is a good one!

Reported by: Stan Dale

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