Sebring 12 hour 2020 Race Report

Last weekend saw us enter 2 BMW M8 GTEs and Chevrolet Corvette C7 Daytona Prototype into the iRacing 12 hours of Sebring. Below are the race reports written by Alain, Ben and James.

14th March 2020

Sebring International Raceway

Race start 14:00 GMT est

#66 BMW M8 GTE - James Hall, Sandro Ballesteros, Paul Wignell

We go back a few weeks, back to when eTeam BRIT Bossman Paul D picked the driving line ups for the 3 cars. It was announced that I would be driving with Paul W & Sandro. We sat down as a 'Car Team' and talked about our stregnths and weekness's at this track. Sebring has a unique thing we don't see in modern race track, and that inculded a transition from Tarmac to the world famous concrete littered with bumps

from many a car during the tracks life. we started testing and practicing pretty much straight away and no one was comfortable with the car and track combo. We then downloaded Anthony's BMW M8 GTE Baseling setup and straight away it felt like the shackles that were holding us back suddenly disappeard. It was an improvement but Paul W and Myself (with the help of Aaron) noticed that Sandro was struggling. We as a 

car team rallied around him and the #066 car went and did many practice sessions privatly as the car team so that Paul W and myself could help Sandro. It's now raceweek so the atmosphere around the team was starting to buzz and there felt like all 3 cars were ready to do battle with the Sebring circuit and of course the bumps who can forget them!. On Tuesday of race week iRacing released their March build that 

introduced a new car but the build also introduced the New Tyre Model v7 or NTM7 for short. NTM7 is an amazing model that has made the tyres more real in my opinion and it's amazing makes me feel more at 1 with the car and the feedback from the car as when to push and when not too, but anyway back to the point, it left the iRacing community scrabbling to get their setups changed to both accepting the NTM7 and also

the new restrictions of some of the GTE cars, and that was in the form of camber restrictions. The #066 car just put our heads down, made the changes and just got back to practice. Fast forward to race day and the whole #066 couldnt wait to be out on track, we had a good feeling, not a cocky feeling but a good feeling that we would be okay in the race aslong as we could keep our car clean. The Stint schedule had been

set in stone for 1 week prior to the race so everyone knew what time they'd be in the car on track or sat in the pit bunker spotting whilst the 3rd driver had a 1 and a half away to rest, stretch, sleep or eat food. eTeam BRIT uses a leap frog system when it comes to endurance racing, for example Diver A would be in the car with driver B spotting for driver A whilst Driver C was resting, and then Driver B would get in 

the car and driver C becomes spotter and then Driver A rest's and then Driver C drives, Driver A spots and then Driver B would rest and the whole squence starts over again being a leap frog system. Myself was scheduled in to drive the 1st double stints. The #066 lined up 15th on the grid and when the green flag dropped everyone took a cautiuos approcah to the start of the race, which is very rare on iRacing, after the

1st stint the #066 moved up from P15 to P5. After the pitstop the #066 came out in P8. The 2nd stint went without incident, after gaining a futher 5 positions I handed over to Sandro, and Paul W took up the role of spotter whilst I went for some food. Paul W messaged me a short while later to say that Sandro had been in a incident and we had to pit for 10 minute's of repairs. No serious damage and that was due to Sandro 

and his amazing skills of slowing the car enough for a light tap on the front. After Sandro pitted and the repairs were complete he did an amazing 2 fantastic stints and handed over to Paul W, at this time I was back and ready to spot for Paul W who did an amazing job in heavy traffic and kept the car at a steady pace we had pre-agreed on and he put in 2 faultless stints and handed over to me at the halfway point for the

race. By this time we already started calling the car 'The Hulk'as were running with Green higlights on the car to tell the car apart from it's sister cars. On fresh cold tyres I made a mistake and ran straight on at 1 of the most challenging braking points on the circuit the infamous Turn 7 Hairpin. During this stint we was informed that the other eTeam BRIT BMW M8 GTE #067 had retired due to accident damage. A few laps

later I was following a Ferrari that then spun right infront of me at T10 and I managed to avoid it... Just After that we got back on track clawing our way through the field after going down some laps. A really faultless stint's from myself and Sandro again really really got us back into the battle for P10, P9, P8 and then Sandro passed the car for the final time to Paul W who just like Sandro put in a phonominal drive to 

secure a 8th place finish, though on the 2nd to last lap he tapped the wall, but due to being in front of the leader who lapped us meant we was given the white flag so Paul W just nursed the car round to secure once and for all a P8 finish for the eTeam BRIT #066 BMW M8 GTE codenamed 'The Hulk'. It was a team effort, it took blood, sweat and hard work from all of us.

#67 BMW M8 GTE - Ben Warren, Aaron D'Mellow, Max Spooner 

Our eTeam BRIT 67 car came into the weekend excited and well prepared for the 12 hours of Sebring, with Ben, Aaron and Max all putting in multiple practice stints and setting competitive laptimes in the always brilliant looking BMW M8 GTE.

It was decided before the race that Ben would qualify the car and start the race, with Aaron taking the third and fourth stint. Qualifying was "a little bit messy" according to Ben, with the eTeam BRIT 67 BMW lining up 13th in class. Definitely could've been better but also could've been so much worse.

Unfortunately the shenanigans began even before the green flag dropped, with the car directly behind Ben running into the back of him nearing the end of the formation lap. This instantly gave the car rear diffuser damage which was frustrating to say the least! This incident was the first of three more involving the same individual! 

Despite the damage, we were able to avoid incidents taking place through the opening few turns. Unfortunately our new adversary once again hit our car heading into the turn seven hairpin still on lap one, this time not damaging the car but understandably frustrating Ben! Three corners later and once again the same car manages to hit us, this time putting our car into a spin. We were able to avoid any contact with the barrier but had to sit idly by while the entire field including all the GT3s made their way past before we were finally able to rejoin the race down in 28th in class.

It was frustrating but at such an early part of the race all hope was certainly not lost. Ben then set about working his way through the GT3 field before picking off some straggling GTE cars. Despite the damage the car was still showing good pace, matching times with the lead cars in our class. Ben entered the pits to complete his first stint having recovered to 19th place.

Ben's second stint was far less action packed, although some fun battles took place Ben returned to the pits to complete the stint having moved up to 16th place before handing the car over to Aaron, who picked up from where we'd left off and picked up more positions, finding ourselves up to 9th place before heartbreak struck the team.

Exiting turn ten, Aaron had a slight bobble over some bumps which slightly unsettled the car and pirouetted the car into a slight spin. Unfortunately there was a GT3 car just behind Aaron and with no time to react, ran into the side of car and giving us severe steering damage. We limped back to the pits to find despite our best efforts to repair the car, the damage was permanent and we had to call time on our race.

Naturally we're disappointed, especially with iRacing making changes to numerous aspects of the car just mere days before the race and the work we put in to adjust to the changes, and we're disappointed for Max being unable to take part in the race before our retirement, but we are not disheartened! Despite our damage sustained during the formation lap, our recovery mission was going well and the pace we were showing was extremely promising! Much to be proud of and we look forward to many more races to come this year.

#68 Chevrolet Corvette C7 Daytona Prototype - Alain Day, Anthony Beck

The 12 hours of Sebring was an event of much action throughout for our Daytona Prototype #068 driven by Anthony Beck and Alain Day, looked after by our official Team Race Engineer Andrew Streetley, who won the 12 hours of Sebring last year in the GTE class with his previous team Werna Digital Racing and so in a very different car, expectations were high. We had a strategy at the ready before the race even began. We started P5 in Split 3 in a highly competitive DP field which GTLM & GTD teams had 5k iR drivers. We lost a few positions off the start after being bogged down but then immediately gained most of them positions back during the 1st lap. With the tyres needing to be warmed up not everyone seemed to quite remember that and went off the track. After the 1st lap we were down to P8 but knowing how anything can happen in these races that did not worry us at all. 

By lap 12 we were already starting to lap the GTD field for the 1st time. Traffic was tightly packed and with the DP field coming through it, it made things interested and a few teams were going off track. Anthony also had a small spin on lap 14 which sent him to the back of the GTD field which he had just lapped and now had to do that again. That did not cause a problem and we pitted with having done a lap longer than everyone apart from 1 other team. We stopped for just fuel and went straight back out. We noticed everyone else apart from 1 team had fresh tyres and we knew it could go the distance on double stinted tyres for the 1st 2 stints. 

The track began to warm up and the race began to settle itself out, becoming known who we could possibly be fighting for position coming to the end of the race. We almost were taken out on lap 37 by a GTD on the start/finish straight who wanted a line which our car was already occupying. We kept our strategy going for our 2nd stint and putting in some very consistent lap times and soon it was time for Alain Day to get into the car for the 1st time. After the 2nd stops, we were in P9. We had a stint long battle with another DP but nothing too much was going on other than keeping consistent pace. We were hovering over being a lap down as the track temp reached 40c and it was eventually time for Anthony to get back into the car. On average we were saving 1 lap of fuel per stint to every other team and we were matching them for pace also. Things were looking good. 

A few teams at this point who were ahead of us started to run into trouble, noticeably the race leader who were running much quicker than anyone else on track, nearly putting a full lap on everyone else in the DP class. The minimal damage count was also helping us in the stops as some teams were being forced to take lengthy stops to make required repairs. 

We made 3 positions over the next 4 hours as other teams ran into different types of issues, 1 of which seemed to be hardware related and got us up into P6 as we approached the final 3rd of the race. The strategy for us was now met and other teams around us didn’t seemed to be noticed until now and we were now becoming the fastest car on track at times while still making gains on our fuel as we looked to open up our final stop as much as possible. Then we were given P5 as the original race leader had another lengthy unscheduled stop which caused them to fall out of contention for the win of the race. They eventually retired from the race and we continued our late game. Night began to fall and while the gap looked a little far, we knew we had a big distance. It was now a challenge of the dark but our pace remained the same and we felt confident in the night to get a P4 finish, maybe even P3. However, on Lap 313 as Anthony was nearing his final stop ready for me to take the car to the end another DP who was multiple laps down hit the grass and with no grip rear ended our DP hard at Tower and almost ended our race. Thankfully our DP didn’t hit the tyre wall and carried on despite some damage to the rear end. Amazingly it didn’t hinder our pace and it didn’t make any major difference in the way the car drove. We took the needed repairs at the next stop which Alain then started the drive to the end. On his out lap he had a spin, trying to overtake a GTLM car just before Le Mans as he tried to overtake lapped cars as quickly as possible as to not lose too much time behind traffic. We made our final stop and knew it would be difficult to get better than P5 but drove to the very end. We weren’t too far off of P4 and without the 2 incidents we would have had P4 at least. But a P5 finish was still a major achievement in a car we had never driven an endurance race in before, never mind the highly competitive split we were put in also. 

Keep up to date with eTeam BRIT

Sign up to our newsletter