SEBRING, FLORIDA — Sebring International Raceway has a reputation as a rough ride. The historic track in the heart of Florida is 3.74 miles of jarring bumps and unpredictable turns. There’s not another track like it, and the two-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series race in mid-March posed unique challenges for even the most experienced cars, drivers and crews.
The track was already hot when the #81 Legistics/Veristor/YouRulz/r2endalz.org BMW 328i driven by Nick Galante started the race from third position and quickly took the lead. The run up front was short-lived, however, as the 2nd place Mini made contact in an effort to pass – and both cars spun out.
“I had some pressure from the No. 37 Mini and out of nowhere, I got hit,” Galante said. “It seemed like it came from very far back, so I didn’t see it coming. Luckily, our car wasn’t that damaged. It went from 100 percent to about 95 percent. The contact knocked some toe out of the rear, which may have actually helped it turn better in some of the turns. I hunted down the other ST cars and regained the lead again four laps later.”
Overall, the #81 led a total of 14 laps through the race. But fate had other plans for the BimmerWorld BMW. The team was forced to pit for emergency fuel under a yellow flag while the pits were closed. That drew a 60-second penalty. A few laps later, the car made its only scheduled pit stop, and co-driver Devin Jones took the controls. Hoping for another yellow to give them a fighting chance after the costly drive-through penalty, the team discovered that they had a sensor issue and were running low on power. They finished the race in 5th place.
“It was just one of those days,” Jones said. “The BimmerWorld guys did a great job getting the car prepared, and we’ll get back up there for Mid-Ohio. The car has the speed; we just have to work some of the kinks out of it and we’ll be good.”
Despite the disappointing finish at Sebring, the team is still in second place in the championship standings going in to the next event May 4-6 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Stay tuned – the season is just getting started!