Sebring 12H : Tower Recovers to Capture LMP2 Victory
The key to Tower Motorsports’ victory in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class was patience. Twelve hours of it, to be exact.
Scott McLaughlin took the class lead under caution late in the race in the team’s No. 8 ORECA LMP2 07, then held off a fierce challenge from Mikkel Jensen during the final four minutes to win the eight-car class in a wild finish.
McLaughlin, the IndyCar Series regular and three-time Australian Supercars champion, won for the first time in just his second WeatherTech Championship race. He shared the victory with teammates John Farano (the team owner) and Kyffin Simpson.
An incident midway through the race involving Simpson sent the car to the pits for repairs, but the trio rallied to get the No. 8 back in front for the finish. The victory made up for a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“It’s not just me, it’s the bounce-back from the whole team,” McLaughlin said. “Daytona was a tough one, as we all know, but Kyffin drove well today, as well as John. They really put us on the right path.”
Simpson’s spin happened in Turn 1, but the crew was able to quickly repair the damage and get the Tower car back on pace without losing a lap.
“Pushed a little too hard there and got crossed up at T1,” Simpson tweeted after the incident. “Thankfully the damage was just cosmetic and the team did an incredible job fixing the car up. We literally lost a few seconds and 1 place. Insane.”
McLaughlin, who won three IndyCar races last season for Team Penske, joked with Simpson in Victory Lane.
“Our guys got the car back together after our little guy’s misdemeanor,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll let him off the hook now.”
McLaughlin had the lead on a restart with 32 minutes left, initially holding off a challenge from Paul-Loup Chatin in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA he shared with Ben Keating and Alex Quinn. On the final restart with four minutes remaining, though, McLaughlin faced a different challenger – Jensen in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA that he co-drive with Scott Huffaker and Steven Thomas.
McLaughlin crossed the line in third place overall in the 53-car field, 0.834 seconds ahead of Jensen.
“I’m really proud of everyone on the team,” McLaughlin said. “The strategy at the end was just incredible. Glad I could hold them off for them.”
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