Corvette’s Grit and Tenacity Shine at the Sebring Raceway: AWA’s Notable Finish

Corvettes at the 2024 Sebring 12 Hours Race

AWA Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R Leads the Charge in GT Daytona, Demonstrating the Strength of the Corvette Racing Program

Endurance Racing Excellence: Corvette’s Journey at Sebring

2024 Sebring 12 Hours Race with a competitive 22-car GT Daytona (GTD) field

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is a testament to the prowess and endurance of race teams and their vehicles. This year, the event was especially significant for the Corvette Racing Program, with the debut of the first-year GT3 Corvettes. Leading the Corvette contingent was the No. 13 AWA Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R, driven by the skilled trio of Orey Fidani, Matt Bell, and Lars Kern, who secured a commendable ninth place among a competitive 22-car GT Daytona (GTD) field.

AWA’s Determined Drive

The Sebring race marked the second outing for AWA within the Corvette program, following an initial appearance at January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. Despite starting from the back due to a post-qualifying technical infraction, the team’s relentless effort saw them climb the ranks, at one point running as high as third in their class. Matt Bell’s recount of the race highlights the intensity and the strategic maneuvers that propelled them to a top-10 finish.

Challenges and Triumphs for Corvette Racing

The race was not without its trials for other members of the Corvette family. The No. 3 Oshkosh/Mobil 1 Corvette Z06 GT3.R, piloted by Antonio Garcia, Alexander Sims, and Daniel Juncadella, faced late-race turmoil that dashed their hopes of finishing as the top Corvette. Despite a strong performance, a late collision forced them off track. Similarly, the No. 4 Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports team encountered mechanical difficulties but remained determined throughout.

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Reflections from the Drivers

In a gripping chapter at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Corvette Racing team, led by Ben Bode, battled fiercely in the all-new No. 3 Corvette Z06 GT3.R. Alexander Sims, Daniel Juncadella, and Antonio Garcia pushed for glory, nearly clinching a podium in GTD PRO before a jarring collision derailed their dreams. Meanwhile, the No. 4 team, with Nicky Catsburg, Earl Bamber, and Tommy Milner, showcased skill and teamwork. A testament to Pratt Miller's engineering and the spirit of Corvette Racing. Photo credit: Kevin Bowman
In a gripping chapter at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Corvette Racing team, led by Ben Bode, battled fiercely in the all-new No. 3 Corvette Z06 GT3.R. Alexander Sims, Daniel Juncadella, and Antonio Garcia pushed for glory, nearly clinching a podium in GTD PRO before a jarring collision derailed their dreams. Meanwhile, the No. 4 team, with Nicky Catsburg, Earl Bamber, and Tommy Milner, showcased skill and teamwork. A testament to Pratt Miller’s engineering and the spirit of Corvette Racing. Photo credit: Kevin Bowman

Each driver brought a unique perspective to the race, sharing insights into the challenges faced and the lessons learned. From the early lead taken by Sims in the No. 3 Corvette to the frustrating clutch issues encountered by the No. 4 team, the narratives reflect a blend of determination, resilience, and a commitment to improvement. See the full press release at the end of this article.

Looking Ahead: The Road to Long Beach

As the Corvette Z06 GT3.R program gears up for the next IMSA round at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the team is poised to leverage their Sebring experience to further refine their strategies and performance. The unwavering spirit of the drivers and the technical crew underscores Corvette Racing’s commitment to excellence in the face of adversity.

Join the Corvette Racing Conversation

For enthusiasts eager to delve deeper into the riveting world of Corvette racing, check out the complete press release at the end of this article. It offers an in-depth look at the challenges, strategies, and indomitable spirit of the Corvette Racing team at the 2024 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Sebring 12 Hours Race Week Gallery

Photographer by Kevin Bowman

NO 3GTD ProAntonio García
Alexander Sims
Daniel Juncadella
Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller MotorsportsChevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R
NO 4GTD ProTommy Milner
Nicky Catsburg
Earl Bamber
Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller MotorsportsChevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R
No 13GTDOrey Fidani
Matthew Bell
Lars Kern
AWAChevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R
No 17GTDAnthony Mantella
Nico Varrone
Thomas Merrill
AWAChevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R

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Below is the official press release from Corvette Racing

CORVETTE RACING AT SEBRING:

AWA Leads Corvette Contingent at Finish

SEBRING, Fla. (March 16, 2024) – The No. 13 AWA Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R led the contingent of first-year GT3 Corvettes at the end of Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Cadillac. The trio of Orey Fidani, Matt Bell and Lars Kern placed ninth in a 22-car GT Daytona (GTD) field at Sebring International Raceway in the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Sebring was the second race for AWA as part of the Corvette program following a debut in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. The No. 13 trio completed 314 laps and finished on the lead GTD lap in a largely trouble-free run.

Fidani drove two stints in the early part of the race, including the opening laps after all four Corvettes started from the rear of the field due to a post-qualifying technical infraction. But the No. 13 Orlando Corporation Z06 GT3.R team steadily worked its way through the field and ran as high as third in class before a successful fight in the closing hour to maintain its top-10 finish.

The No. 3 Oshkosh/Mobil 1 Corvette Z06 GT3.R of Antonio Garcia, Alexander Sims and Daniel Juncadella looked as if it would take the honors as the highest-finishing Corvette in the race before being hit from behind and spun off track in the waning laps while running second in GTD PRO.

The biggest mover early was Sims, who started the race and went from ninth to first in the first 67 minutes to set the table for a race-long fight for the class win with a special Mobil 1 gold livery to mark the company’s 50th anniversary.

Garcia drove a double-stint before Juncadella put in a strong three-hour drive in the hottest part of the day as the No. 3 Corvette remained in the hear t of the fight. An untimely full-course yellow and an emergency pit stop for fuel with less than three hours to go pushed the team back down the order, but solid driving and strategy put Juncadella back into the lead inside the final 70 minutes.

Late-race chaos saw Juncadella jostled around by multiple cars, the final being the impact that knocked the No. 3 Corvette off the circuit with six minutes to go.

The No. 4 Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports Z06 GT3.R lost time in the first half of the race trying to sort clutch issues while trying to remain in GTD PRO contention with servicing during pit stops. Near the halfway point, the team elected to change a clutch component and lost multiple laps in the process.

AWA’s second Corvette – the No. 17 Z06 GT3.R in GTD – retired early in the race with an electrical problem.

The next IMSA round for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R program is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – featuring the GTD class – on April 20 from the Long Beach (Calif.) Street Circuit.

AWA POST-EVENT DRIVER QUOTES

MATT BELL, NO. 13 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “It was pretty intense out there. Obviously in Daytona we just had to circulate around a bit after that unfortunate start. It was good to be back in the GTD battle properly there. There was some intense battling, and I managed to fight my way from the back to P8, I think, so it was nice to be in the fight. We’re still really learning the car and optimizing things we learned in practice. Chevrolet and Pratt Miller have built an impressive piece of GT3 machinery. We’re still getting to grips with it a little bit, but as the race went on we jumped up and down the leaderboard and think at one point we were P3 after cycling through some stops. That was a proper, old-fashioned GTD stint doing some overtaking, which was nice to be in the fight. You’re always learning and you’re always pushing as well. We’re not just cycling around trying to be in school. We’re going as hard as we can.”

LARS KERN, NO. 13 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “It was a pretty tough race. It seems like we haven’t had the pace, so we need to figure out why. We didn’t have the pace to fight with the top guys so that was a bit frustrating. It was a hard race and really hot in the car. There were some little hiccups but didn’t have any penalties or any big incidents. So generally I’d say we executed pretty well. It’s good after Daytona to finish this race, gain some experience and move on.”

CORVETTE RACING BY PRATT MILLER MOTORSPORTS POST-EVENT DRIVER QUOTES

DANI JUNCADELLA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “There were some pretty poor driving standards at the end from many cars. I just got fully rear-ended into the braking zone at Turn Three. I was just a passenger and there was nothing I could do. It’s a shame because we lost a podium probably – P2 or P3. Two corners before I got run wide by the Ferrari as well. It was very hectic out there and people were acting over-aggressive. It gets dark here and there’s not much (camera) footage so people start believing there are no rules. It was a bit too much. It’s a shame because after the last stop when we jumped everyone to the lead. I thought we maybe had it. But restarting through the GTD cars was a complete mess. I got overtaken before the green by the 14. We were lacking a little bit of top speed unfortunately late to fight the others. But the Z06 GT3.R was good and I was happy. I enjoyed the experience of returning to Sebring. It was just a bittersweet ending. We’ll analyze and get better for the next one.”

ALEXANDER SIMS, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “We struggled a little bit in practice, but at the end of Thursday we had a feeling that we understood what that was and qualifying seemed to go well. In that first race stint, it was good to just get into it. It seemed like the car’s pace throughout the whole stint was pretty strong. But I tried to be sensible as well and not take too many risks and be too crazy early in the race.”

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “It was a standard GTD race with a lot of warriors. The ABS in these cars allow people to throw it in and pray for the car to stop. It’s not ideal. It was a great job by Alex and Dani. We lost A/C from the third hour so it was very hard on us. It’s a shame we didn’t come out with a decent result. I’m not saying we deserved the win but I think we did deserve a strong result.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “It wasn’t too bad early. The mentality at the start here was not to do anything stupid, no matter what. On the very first laps, you needed be very easy. Obviously there was a lot of chaos in front of us, but the mindset was already pretty reserved anyway so it didn’t affect us. I had two good stints there. It was tough to race with some the other cars in our class.”

NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “To be honest, I think we had pretty good pace and were competitive. Unfortunately we ran into some issues with the clutch, so we kept losing time at the pit stops, and I had to stop twice on track. The pace is there but we were losing track position. We will keep plugging away at it and hopefully end up with a good result at the next race.”

Ryan Smith
Judy Kouba Dominick

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