March 21st, 2020 by IMSA No Comments
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – IMSA champions? Check. Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts winners? Check. A vast field of talented racers? Check, check and check.
IMSA Sebring SuperSaturday on iRacing at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, March 21 features a full 50-car field of real-life, professional racers on the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway iRacing circuit, “virtually” guaranteeing an afternoon of entertainment for IMSA fans.
All of the cars in the field will be recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race cars – the Porsche 911 RSR, BMW M8 GTE, Ford GT and Ferrari 488 GTE – and there will be no driver changes.
Let’s take a quick glance at some of the names on the entry list:
IMSA Sebring SuperSaturday Schedule/Platform (All Times ET)
1:30-2:30 p.m. – The Torque Show iRacing Pre-Race Show – Facebook Live
4 p.m. – The Torque Show – iRacing Post-Race Show – Facebook Live
7:30 p.m. – The Torque Show NBCSN Preview – Facebook Live
8 p.m. – 2019 Twelve Hours of Sebring Highlight Show – NBCSN
Join the conversation before, during and after the event through the hashtag #IMSASuperSaturday.
Previous Twelve Hours Winners Ready for Battle
There are seven drivers on the entry list who have stood atop the podium at the end of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. The list includes a pair of overall-winning drivers: Joao Barbosa, who won in 2015 and will drive the No. 5 Ferrari 488 GTE and Felipe Nasr, last year’s overall winner who will drive the No. 31 BMW M8 GTE.
The field also features four drivers representing GT Daytona (GTD) class winners in each of the past four years at Sebring. Jeff Segal, the 2016 GTD winner, will drive the No. 69 Ferrari; 2017 winner Jeroen Bleekemolen is in a Porsche 911 RSR, 2018 winner Corey Lewis will drive the No. 39 BMW and 2019 winner Mirko Bortolotti will drive the No. 888 Porsche.
Richard Westbrook, the 2013 GT winner at Sebring, also will be in the race, running the familiar, Castrol-liveried Ford GT.
“I’m really, really looking forward to it,” Westbrook said. “I’ve been racing in IMSA a long time, and when I saw the opportunity to get reunited in the Ford GT – at Sebring as well – it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I can’t wait to get out there racing against friends and old teammates and ex-competitors. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
They Are The Champions: 11 IMSA Titlists In the Field
There’s no shortage of championship-winning drivers on the entry list, including 11 with an IMSA championship. Barbosa is a two-time WeatherTech Championship Prototype champion and four-time IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup champion; Nasr won the 2018 WeatherTech Championship and the 2018 and 2019 Michelin Endurance Cup titles in the Prototype/DPi classes. Filipe Albuquerque, who co-drove to the 2017 Michelin Endurance Cup Prototype championship with Barbosa, is entered in a Porsche.
In the GT ranks, Segal is a four-time IMSA champion with the 2016 Michelin Endurance Cup in GTD; GRAND-AM GT championships in 2010 and 2012 and the 2007 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) title. Westbrook won the 2019 Michelin Endurance Cup GTLM title. Bleekemolen has three consecutive Michelin Endurance Cup GTD titles as well as a pair of American Le Mans Series GTC championships.
Additional IMSA champions include Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis, who co-drove to the 2019 Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR championship in the Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N. Wilkins is driving a Porsche and Lewis will drive the No. 198 BMW. Another former Michelin Pilot Challenge champion – 2015 ST titlist Stevan McAleer, will drive the No. 43 BMW.
There also are a pair of IMSA single-make series champions on the entry list. Roman De Angelis, winner of both the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada by Yokohama titles in 2019 and the current driver of the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin in the WeatherTech Championship will pilot the No. 79 Porsche in Saturday’s iRacing event.
Ryan Hardwick, the 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Am champion and Am World Champion is driving the No. 16 Porsche RSR.
Can Vautier Turn Real-Life Speed into iRacing Success?
One of the intriguing storylines going into Saturday’s race will be to see how the real world translates to iRacing. Does speed on the actual racetrack lead to iRacing success?
If it does, Frenchman Tristan Vautier must rate among the favorites. He scored back-to-back pole positions for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, taking Mercedes-AMG’s first-ever GTD pole in 2017 and a year later, taking the overall and Prototype class pole with Spirit of Daytona Racing. Saturday, he’ll be driving the No. 85 BMW.
“It’s very cool that IMSA and iRacing have come together to organize this SuperSaturday race,” said Vautier, who drives the No. 85 JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi in the WeatherTech Championship. “It’s one of those things that helps keep everyone’s spirits up during these times, and I have to say the racing community is lucky to have esports while we can’t race real cars. I look forward to having some fun with fellow IMSA drivers on Saturday.”
BMW Going Big for SuperSaturday
BMW is going all-in to win the IMSA Sebring SuperSaturday on iRacing, complete with WeatherTech Championship GTLM factory aces on the entry list.
Rolex 24 At Daytona GTLM class winners Jesse Krohn (2020) and Colton Herta (2019) will pilot a pair of BMW Team Black, MOTUL-sponsored machines. Herta will drive No. 23, and Krohn is in No. 24.
“I am very excited to race against my IMSA competitors and be a part of something new,” Krohn said. “I’m not sure something like this has been put together by a major championship.”
BMW Team Red, meanwhile, puts Canadian Bruno Spengler in the No. 25 BMW and Nicky Catsburg in the No. 26. Spengler, a past DTM champion, is in his first WeatherTech Championship GTLM season, while Catsburg also races in Michelin Endurance Cup events with Corvette Racing.
“Sim racing is an important tool that allows a driver to stay fit,” Spengler said. “And now, while we are all staying safe, we can keep on doing our job. I am pleased to be a part of this event and look to put on a good show along with my BMW colleagues.”
IndyCar Stars Join in the Fun
Just as they would in real life, some IndyCar stars also have signed up to compete in IMSA Sebring SuperSaturday on iRacing. Santino Ferrucci, who usually drives the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda IndyCar, will drive the No. 18 BMW on Saturday.
The aforementioned Herta – who won two IndyCar races last year in addition to the Rolex 24 and usually drives the No. 88 Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport Honda IndyCar – is ready to take on the field in the BMW.
“I’m looking forward to racing this weekend,” Herta said. “It’s always exciting to go up against everyone, no matter the circumstances. Like many things right now, racing is coming to a stop at the minute. So, I think this will help propel interest and hopefully give people an outlet to watch some form of motorsport.”