Sunday, March 20, 2011 12:00 p.m. – Sebring Final
Yesterday was not an easy day for us. A couple of instances took us out of the running, but true to form, the Lizard team kept their wits about them and we soldiered on to put sixth place points on the board. At Sebring, where extra points are awarded, we couldn't afford to DNF, so we achieved our first goal, which was gaining reasonable points for the championship. The mood was difficult at the end of the race because we hadn't factored in with our outright pace as we had done in previous years—the potential in the car wasn't quite where we'd hoped to be. That said, we have to put our heads down and just push forward. It's going to be a tough, competitive year from the looks of things.
After the incident with Jan Magnussen in the 04 Corvette, we talked as soon as we saw one another and before I even gave him my take on it, he knew what had happened. There are a few different lines through Turn 17 at Sebring, and each one of them has so many different bumps and obstacles. I was running closer to the middle of the line than normal, and he was running wider. I hit a massive bump and with the lateral g-forces through that turn, I got all four wheels off the ground and my car turned right into him. Before I knew what was happening, I was into him and spinning, and we lost some time when I served a penalty for avoidable contact. All in all, a tough Sebring 12 Hours, but it's a long season and there's a lot to look forward to.
My last two stints were uneventful and, in the end, we were able to bring both cars home. Now on to Long Beach.
Today I’m on my way to Miami with Jörg to catch a flight to Germany. Testing with the new GT3 R Hybrid tomorrow through Wednesday on the Nürburgring.
Saturday, March 19, 2011 – Sebring 8:00 p.m.
It’s been a long day... two and a half hours remain in the Sebring12. We lost a couple more laps with a water spill that caused electrical failure. Marc Lieb is in the car now and we’re running P6.
Saturday, March 19, 2011 – Sebring 3:00 p.m.
I had a tough first stint. At the start, I passed Jan Magnussen in the #4 Corvette going into Turn 1. Later in the lap, he had a run on me into Turn 17. We were side by side and giving each other plenty of room when suddenly the front end of my car launched into the air. When I landed I went directly left into Jan’s right-hand door. We both spun and the #1 Ferrari was collected. It was really unfortunate; I got caught out by a piece of the race track that I don’t normally run on. We are P7, one lap down.
Friday, March 18, 2011 - Sebring
We’ve been saying it every year, but the competitive bar only gets higher each year in the American Le Mans Series. At the beginning of last year we didn’t expect to win the championship, but through excellent teamwork and great equipment, the Lizard boys delivered. This year, we fully expect every race to be a dogfight; the BMWs and Corvettes are looking even quicker, and Ferrari’s got a new car that looks to be a force to be reckoned with. It’s a huge challenge to race in the ALMS, but we all love the competition.
We’ve been here since last Friday and I think if I look back in my journal and racing log where I keep notes about setup and how my week went, Sebring is a tough week leading up to the race because you find a setup that you like and then that setup disappears without the car changing—and that’s just down to conditions. So it’s been a long week of trying to endure just what Sebring is all about which has to do with the elements of weather changes, surface changes and that really becomes a situation where you can lose yourself and go in circles. So we’ve done a good job of keeping perspective on what’s important and not worrying too much about the pace of others and I think we’re in for a good shot. We’ve been competitive for the last two years and the race has gotten away from us from bad luck. This year we’ve just got to stick to our plan and try to have a clean race. I have to think that the endurance side and the speed side will be there.
Qualifying sixth isn’t a big concern. There were times last year where we qualified outside the top eight and we were still able to win races without any attrition. So 12 hours adds an element of attrition and it’s going to be a hot and challenging day tomorrow so no issues with qualifying. Jörg did a great job. It was interesting to see the old Ferrari 430 up front. I think Sebring has many more elements than just outright speed.
Sebring is one of the most demanding endurance races in the world, and the competition is only one element of how tough the race will be. There’s a huge entry list, so it’ll be a pretty hectic race, but it’s all part of our sport. We’re confident, but I’m hungry to get back to the top step of the podium. This race has eluded us as a group and me personally since 2005, so it’s time to go get a win.