Both Porsche and Corvette were left disappointed after the No.911 Porsche and the No.3 Corvette GTLM machines were taken out of race contention while fighting for the lead at the 12 hours of Sebring.
Kevin Estre had the race lead for Porsche with Corvette’s Jan Magnussen closing to fight for the top spot on lap 116.
The pair split a GT Daytona Audi down the main straight with Magnussen on the dry line adjacent to the pit wall and Estre on the outside on a damp part of the track.
When Magnussen swung from the outside to enter turn one and steal first place, Estre tried to defend the lead on the inside – the resulting contact sent both cars hard into the tire wall.
“I was fighting with the Corvette at the entry to [turn] 17, he was on the inside, I was on the outside. We overtook a car so we were three-wide in 17 and we exited three-wide with me on the inside, the Corvette on the outside and an Audi GTD between,” Estre said.
“The Audi, for some reason, stayed a lot to the left so I had just a small space between the wall. The Corvette was on the right somewhere but I was not sure exactly where. I decided to commit and go through [turn] one like this.
“I knew the Audi would brake early and I had the line for one. When I touched the brake there was just too much water on the inside I didn’t see before.
“I locked the front and I hit the Corvette which was on the dry line. It was my fault. I made the wrong decision at that point. I am really sorry for the whole team and for the Corvette. I don’t know if we had the pace in the dry but we definitely had in it in the wet and it was going to rain again.”
While the Porsche was eliminated from the race, Corvette Racing went to work to repair the No.3 after Magnussen initially reversed out of the tire wall and attempted to drive away.
With his rear suspension damaged, the Dane elected to stop the car a short distance late to prevent further damage – the car returning to paddock on the back of a recovery truck. Magnussen had been one of the first GTLM cars to elect to switch to dry tires after the rain had stopped.
“It’s such a huge shame for everyone on the team really. The weather made it really difficult out there. The decision to go to slicks felt wrong, but we did it,” Magnussen said.
“After a while I could see that times were coming down and I could build a little bit of temperature. I kept working at it. I don’t know how far back we were but we were a long way but caught everything up. We got into the lead there for a very short while and then it all went south.
“It’s a shame. (Kevin) Estre (911 driver) came and apologized. That’s nice enough but it doesn’t change the fact that we are in here building the car. I really, really feel bad for the crew because man we were fast.”