According to Scott McLaughlin, Tower Motorsport took an unlikely overall podium finish at the Mobil 1 Sebring 12 Hour with “bits and pieces hanging off his Oreca 07 Gibson”.
The LMP2 team of McLaughlin, Kyffin Simpson and John Farano recovered from a mid-race crash to take class honors and a third overall at the Florida endurance classic.
It was the first overall podium for an LMP2 class start in the race since 2012 when Starworks Motorsport led its HPD ARX-03b to honor the top category and also with a third overall.
Ironically, what was left of the Peter Baron-led Starworks team morphed into Tower Motorsport, which has been under the helm of Ricky Capone since 2021.
NTT IndyCar Series star McLaughlin held off Peugeot FIA World Endurance Championship star Mikkel Jensen for class victory in only his second sportscar race, who came after a crash at hour 7 with Simpson at the wheel.
“There were bits of it hanging off,” McLaughlin said after the race.
“Unfortunately, Kyffin had that little moment… The team really had the right strategy and kept us on the lead lap, fixed the bodywork. Luckily the car was straight and we had a really fast race car.
“I was able to use the right strategy calls from the team and ultimately produce a result there.
“It was pretty crowded and a pretty tough race there at the end. It was definitely difficult. It was probably the darkest race I’ve ever been in; I’ve never seen anything like this.
“I was building confidence every lap out there at night. I’m just blown away by everyone, John, Kyffin and the team. This is really great.”
The Kiwi said the race was a tremendous learning experience after making its debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January when the car lost ground early on due to an electrical issue triggered by a leaking beverage bottle.
Saturday’s race didn’t continue to run in a straight line.
“I was fighting, thinking as fast as I could and I didn’t care if I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” McLaughlin said. “I was just trying to ride it as fast and keep it as lean as possible.
“There were some pretty big blocks trying to do whatever they could to deal with the cold tires.
“That was another thing, just learning that and maintaining temperatures and what worked well [tire] Warm up under the safety car to maintain temperatures and pressure.
“I learned that on the run but hopefully that prepares us better when I hopefully come back and have another crack.”
Simpson, meanwhile, credited the Florida-based team for getting the car back on track so quickly after the crash.
“That was a shame,” he said. “I went through Turn 1 and spread out a bit and just about dropped the wheel on the exit and the car spun sideways.
“It was a really unfortunate crash but the team did a great job to get back from there. Kudos to her.
“I think they did a great job, not just in that, but all day with the race strategy calls and the pit stops.
“The first few laps at Turn 1 it was a bit difficult. I lacked a little more confidence than usual, but I built it up slowly and tried not to make any more mistakes.”