8 hours into the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the yellow flags, the last two hours saw more action than any other.
Hour 7 began with a pit stop cycle that paused the battle between the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura and the two Cadillacs, the #31 Whelen Engineering and the #01 works effort. In the stop cycle, GTP polesitter Pipo Derani got back behind the wheel of the number 31 to continue the battle started by teammate Jack Aitken in the previous stint.
Filipe Albuquerque remained in the #10 as did Renger van Der Vande in the #01 and all three drivers continued the battle for the lead on track.
Albuquerque extended their lead over the Cadillacs to about eight seconds and the #01 continued to show signs that something strange was going on with the car. Van Der Zande lost P2 to Derani and retained about a five second lead over the Brazilian.
Further back in the GTP field, the #24 BMW M Team’s RLL action began to slow down almost to a standstill and was asked to report directly to the workshop for major repairs.
Almost at the same time as the problems for the number 24 emerged, Kyffin Simpson found himself in a cloud of dust and nose-first into the wall in the #8 Tower Motorsport LMP2 machine. A quick wheel dive into the dust at Turn 1 sent the young rider into the tire locks that have seen so much action this weekend.
The car suffered severe cosmetic damage, but Simpson was able to return it to the pits for repairs during the course’s subsequent full yellow. If yellow, the #24 BMW was officially retired.
It didn’t take long for the green flag to fly again. The yellow came out again shortly after being cleared due to track debris. The debris came from the GTD pole sitting #93 Racers Edge Acura, which had a mysterious contact that wasn’t caught on camera. They are believed to have made contact with the rear of the #12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus, which escaped with minor damage to the rear, while the #93 was forced to back away as it returned to the pits.
Throughout the yellow course, in an absolutely stunning display, the #38 Performance Edge LMP3 driven by Robert Mau seemingly out of nowhere drove straight into the rear of the #6 Porsche.
When the race went green again, the #6 was at the end of the field after repairs and the #10 had received a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits. Leading the field to green, Derani took off like a rocket when he saw the flag, creating a sizeable gap almost immediately. The #10 had to pit from P2 to service its drive-through and the #85 JDC Miller LMP3 machine made friends with the wall outside of Turn 1. The #85 was able to come back and move, but the green flag once ran rather short-lived.
In the battle for the GTD lead, the #57 Winward Mercades with Phillip Ellis at the controls touched the #16 Wright Motorsport machine with Zach Robichon at the wheel. The #16 found the wall and the #57 stopped with apparent front end damage that required recovery.
Pipo Derani leads the field and heads into the final third of the race as the sun goes down.