NEO Endurance Series Round 1: 6 Hours of Sebring
Going into the inaugural season of the NEO Endurance Series, we have entered one HPD ARX-01c for the Prototype Class which is going to be shared by the team. For the first race at Sebring Martti Pietilä and Jörn Jens were representing Coanda Simsport with lots of expactations after the recent successful weeks. With the main competitors being Apex Racing UK, Radicals Online and Friction Racing, we are facing tough rivals in this series for race victories and the overall championship.
The Qualifying was held on Saturday before the race and with heavy traffic during the whole session it came clear it could become a gamble for the top starting positions. Jörn was able to score a fast time early in the session which kept the team for very long in first position.
After Martti did not manage to beat his time, Jörn took over for another time and could improve his time by a tenths, which looked like a solid gap to the teams behind. Last minute in the session, Marcus Hamilton from Friction Racing was able to match our time exactly down to a thousand of a second, putting their car in the front row for the start of the race. Behind them, Apex Racing UK, Team Chimera, Radicals Online and Twisted Apex Racing Team completed the top 6 in the Prototype Class.
With the goal being clear to defend that lead until the end of the race, we started well into the race and could hold on to the lead until after the first pit stops. Friction Racing leap frogged into first position and could hold on to it until their second pit stop, after which Radicals Online were able to slip into the lead of the race.
Meanwhile Jörn who was driving the start handed the car over to Martti for the second quarter of the race. After a few driving mistakes by him the Radicals LMP, driven by Paul Ilbrink and Wyatt Gooden were able to extend their lead to around 20 seconds. After Friction Racing was out of the race after an accident, the race was highlighted by Radicals and Coanda, both pushing themselves for the last 4 hours of the race, trying to go to win this race.
With only a few laps to go Martti damaged the car heavily after a spin into the wall, after which it was clear that we could no longer challenge Radicals for the win, but rather defend ourselves against the cars coming from behind to retain the second position. Radicals Online won the race after a strong performance and luckily for us the gap to third placed car was big enough to hold on to the secondd position against Apex Racing, who completed the podium.
We hope to improve our performance for the next race at COTA, which is going to be on 21st of december.
Watch the race again down below!