This was a very difficult article to write this month. It covers the loss of another Porsche iconic driver whom I met with several times and who always held great conversations with a big smile on his face, Vic Elford. I was introduced to him when I was doing photography at Lime Rock during an IMSA race. Then another time I had the opportunity to do an interview with Vic at the New York International Auto show, along with Patrick Long and Bryce Miller, who at the time was racing a Porsche in his father’s team of Paul Miller Motorsports. Then I met up with Vic at a previous Sebring race.
Vic raced not only for Porsche but also for Ford, Triumph, Lancia, Ala Romeo, Ferrari, Chaparral, Cooper, Lotus, Chevron and Subaru. He drove a McLaren in F1 and Can-Am and a Chevrolet in Trans Am.
Vic holds or held lap records, to this day, for Targa Florio, Nurburgring, Daytona, Sebring, Norisring, Monza, Buenos Aires, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, Riverside and Le Mans.
He had the great ability to recall a race and in detail, tell you about it. He amazed Patrick Long with his ability in those days to race the rally at night, because no one wanted to, for 12 hours, 3 nights in a row.
RIP: Vic Elford (1935-2022)
PART 2: GTD RACING
Then the 12 Hours of Sebring. One of the hardest races, said by many, because of the track differences in concrete and asphalt, the bumps along the track, the daylight hours vs the nighttime hours and the temperature. It could be hot, it could be warm, it could be like last year, cool. Many teams come to Sebring to test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This year it was hot; in the 90’s. Not as hot as some years, but enough to wear out the drivers. The 17 turns and the bumps took a toll.
We had two Porsche Customer teams in GTD Pro: the Weathertech team of Cooper MacNeil, Julien Andlauer and Alessio Picariello, operated by the Proton Competition. The Pfaff Motorsports team (winners of the 24 Hours of Daytona in January) was made up of Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and Felipe Nasr.
In GTD we had the Porsche customer teams of Wright Motorsports with drivers Ryan Hardwick, Jan Heylen and Zacharie Robichon and Team Hardpoint with Katherine Legge, Rob Ferriol and Stefan Wilson compete for a win against 16 other GTD cars.
The Wright Motorsports team started by taking the pole position in GTD, driven by Zacharie Robichon.
The race started under low cloud conditions, almost fog-like but higher. I thought they might not start the race because when I drove in, I could not see the track, but it cleared enough to start the race.
With consistent times during practice, the Wright Motorsports team was anxious to continue their winning streak from the Rolex 24 at Daytona. But like racing, with less than 15 minutes into the 12 hour race, Zach radioed in that there was a problem with the left rear of the car. The car was brought into the pits and into the garage area for repairs, only to return about 40 minutes later, running 18 laps down. The team stayed focused with Zach finishing his stint. Ryan Hardwick took over for the next stint in 16th place but soon radioed in that there was a setup problem. During the race there were many full-course cautions which played to the Wright Motorsport team and at about halfway through the race the team made it up to the top ten in GTD class, gaining back 4 of the 18 lost laps. The team held that place, to hold third place in GTD championship standing.
Pfaff Motorsports had their problems, not with their car or drivers, but with the Corvettes, as IMSA adjusted the BOP or Balance of Performance to the Corvettes, giving them more air, therefore more horsepower. It showed during the race after a full course yellow had the Porsche and Corvettes bunched together. I watched them compete against each other on the restart and cleanly fight for position, only to see the Corvettes make their way to the front. In one lap they were well ahead of the others. The Pfaff Motorsports team kept pushing ahead, only to be one lap down at the end of 12 hours and find themselves 322 laps later, at the end, in 5th place.
These drivers pushed themselves every lap to keep up a pace that was extraordinary. Remember, they are professionals and that is why they do what they do. It is extremely hard to drive these cars at the limit every lap, through the traffic and incidents that happen during the race.
Races are almost back to normal – there are autographs sessions again. Also, here is the new dog in town at Weathertech (below).
Hope to see you all soon at a CVR event !