Bumpy Sebring is track I never really liked. But Sebring is also a track where I usually can find some pace and perform quite well. I ran my first iWCGPS at Sebring back in 2013 being a brand new Pro license holder. In that race I was able to take the 5th qualifying spot, and finished the race in 9th position, which was quite a surprise to me. Driving at the limit at Sebring is incredibly difficult, not only because it is so bumpy but also because the slightest error on the curbs sends you directly into the wall. Racing side by side at Sebring is quite a challenge and often ends in a crash.
During race preparation I struggled quite a lot to be somewhat consistent and to find some pace. The setup being forgiving I could build up some confidence and improve my line throughout the track. Few hours before the race, driving a perfect lap was still difficult. I started my first qualifiying lap cautiously to be sure to set a time: with a 1.29.300 I was surprised to be in second place on the server. I switched to attack mode for the second flying lap and drove a 1.29.086 despite a slide entering Le Mans corner. I ended up first on my server and 10th on the grid. Too bad that silly slide in my 2nd flying lap cost me a top 5 spot on the grid.
I started my race just behind Greger. My lauch was better than usual but not perfect: I lost one spot to Martti in the 3rd corner. Then, in the hairpin Tommaso spun and he caught Martti and Rocco. I could avoid the mayhem getting a x4 but no apparent damage. I then followed André in 9th position for the rest of the first stint. I soon understood that he was running heavy as he was slowing me down by more than 1 second/lap. I had a run on him several times but was not able to overtake him without taking high risks.
After my first pitstop I was driving 10 seconds behind 1 stoppers Patrik and Robin. When all the 1 stoppers had pitted I found myself in 8th position 15 seconds behind Hugo. In this second stint I had free air and could drive some fast laps.
After my second pitstop, I found myself 17 seconds behind Olli and Hugo. Andre’s 1 stopper had worked quite well as he jumped both Olli and Hugo in pits and held me back. Hugo easily passed Andre, then Olli and Andre faught for more than one lap for 7th place. That fight slowed them both down and my lag shrunk to 10 seconds. After Olli passed Andre, Andre suddenly became slower: I then pushed as much as I could in the hope to catch him in the last laps. Andre was slower by 3 seconds/lap as he had to save fuel in the last laps. He resisted as much as he could but I managed to pass him in the last lap for a P8.
I’m quite happy to be able to bring home a top 10 again this year after being crashed in the first race and having had an average finish in the second race. It seems that for the time being P8 is the best I can do: it’s my best result so far in iWCGPS with 1 P8 in 2013 and 2 P8s in 2014! More this year than ever, the key to a good result is a good spot on the grid: being in P10 on the grid, I could avoid the mayhem in the hairpin on lap 1, but with a slightly better qualifying time I wouldn’t have been blocked during the first stint. In the championship I’m back in 15th position still recovering from my first race miss.