WeatherTech Porsche Wins GTC at Sebring
Cooper MacNeil, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Dion von Moltke won the GTC Class at the 61st running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Bleekemolen (Monte Carlo) had the controls of the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing GTC Porsche at the start. Taking a measured approach through the stint, the Dutchman handed the white and black Porsche over to MacNeil (Hinsdale, ILL) to take it into the heat of day. Running a strong double stint, MacNeil drove the WeatherTech Porsche to the lead. Bleekemolen took a brief second stint in the afternoon giving over to von Moltke (South Africa) to take the car into the late afternoon. The team was swapping the lead all race through pit stops, never falling below second place during the first half of the race. On lap 184, von Moltke had a left front tire go down. The team made quick repairs, but the car went down a lap. MacNeil returned the seat and put in a strong double stint as the sun set on the historic circuit’s Turn 17. During his stint, some strong strategy work, combined with heads-up driving by the University of Colorado at Boulder student brought the WeatherTech Porsche back to the lead lap. For the final two-hours-and-forty-five minutes it was up to Bleekemolen to take the lead and bring it home for the team’s ninth Sebring win. This victory compliments the WeatherTech brand also winning the GT race at the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in January.
“It was amazing,” Bleekemolen said. “The car had been good all week. We were first or second every practice session and started the race on the front row. We were unlucky with the puncture when Dion was in the car, but we were able to come back from that and get back to the lead. Cooper did an amazing job putting in a lot of time in the car. He was one of the fastest guys out there this afternoon and into the night. I had a good last couple of hours in the car as well. The guys in the pits did great work and we had the right strategy to take the win.”
MacNeil had a very strong race behind the wheel of the WeatherTech Porsche. Making the win more special is the fact that his father, David, finished second here in 1999 in an Alex Job Racing prepared Porsche.
“If feels great,” MacNeil said. “Last year we finished second, we came so close, but we did it this year. We had some issues early on with the flat tire, just bad luck. I was able to put in some good stints and Jeroen got in and brought it home. It is a great way to start the season. We had some tough luck at Petit last year, so this was a nice way to get our season started going for a second championship in GTC. My Dad finished second here in 1999 in an Alex Job Porsche, so I was able to one-up him tonight.”
Von Moltke adds a second straight endurance win to his resume having won the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in January in the WeatherTech Audi and a second straight Sebring win with AJR.
“It is indescribable being able to win these two races this year with the WeatherTech team,” von Moltke said. “These guys come to win. The whole team did a great job today. I had a little problem with my stint when I got a puncture. But our strategy, combined with some great driving by Cooper and Jeroen brought us back to the front. It is just amazing to be able to win Daytona and Sebring in the same year.”
Alex Job adds a ninth win to his team’s resume.
“What a great couple of months with WeatherTech,” Job said. “We went to Daytona and won the 24 with the WeatherTech Audi and came to Sebring and won here with the WeatherTech Porsche. We had a good race. A few problems like a broken mirror and the flat tire just before dark, but we were able to overcome those issues and win the race. Cooper, Jeroen and Dion all did a great job behind the wheel. We had strong pit stops and great strategy all race.”
Round two of the ALMS will be the Long Beach Grand Prix April 19-20.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 69 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won four championships (GTC 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts nine Sebring 12-hour wins.
The ALMS GTC category is specific to one of the most popular factory produced racing cars in the world, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Developed for Porsche’s one-make series around the world, the new version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is based on the road-going 911 GT3 RS. The power unit featured in the new 911 GT3 Cup is largely identical to the production engine of the 911 GT3 RS with the same output of 450 bhp and the same maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm.
Photos: WeatherTech / Porsche