On saturday May 26 the 2012 season of the Simracing Online Le Mans Series kicked off with a 12 hour race on Sebring. Simracing For Holland opted to take part in our Ferrari F430, a car with few kilometers on the clock. Wilfred van den Brink seemed to be able to take poleposition nevertheless, but in the last seconds of the qualifying session rSeat.fr Racing Team’s Steph Amiel took two tenths out of his time.
SFH Ferrari F430
Wilfred van den Brink
Three different cars lead the race in the first stint. Amiel’s BMW kept on point for a long time until lapping traffic allowed van den Brink to pass in his Ferrari. Behind them the Glatter’s Viper slowly fell back after a strong start. Van den Brink drove to a 30 second lead.
Verdegaal had been showing slow pace in the pre-season tests. Lack of trust in the Ferrari lead to overcautious driving and the lead slowly crumbled. One hour into his stint Verdegaal ran into trouble between a P2 and GT2 car. The impact meant an early repair stop for splitter and hood. After repairs the car lapped two seconds slower, spun once again and with eight hours to go things were looking grim. When van den Brink took over the car still felt sluggish, but with each stop the crew was able to bring back more of its speed.
Meanwhile the competition had all had problems of their own. Nobody seemed to be in top form anymore and after a while van den Brink lead the race again. Three of the four leading GT’s were out of sync due to repair pitstops, it was hard to judge which team was going to have the advantage in the final stint. Coming back from P5 felt good, but there was another half of the race to go still, and it was obvious that not all teams would see the finish.
With 3 hours to go, Verdegaal behind the wheel, Renato Dornelles in the 05 Motorsports Porsche closed the gap. Verdegaal, still struggling with the Ferrari’s balance, spun the car again under pressure which cost eight valuable seconds. At the end of his stint SFH was running 25 seconds behind.
Van den Brink took over for the final double stint, a little shorter than the earlier ones. A different tyre choice meant extra speed, more than enough fuel on board and the SFH Ferrari flew over the track. At the final pitstop the gap was down to 8 seconds.
Dornelles had also changed to soft tyres and the gap was now decreasing by mere tenths of seconds each lap. But when the gap seemed to have stabilized on 2 seconds, suddenly a couple of errors meant that Wilfred was there on his bumper.
After more than 11 hours of racing we had two teams fighting it out side by side on track, amazing stuff. Three, four times the SFH F430 came side by side but the 05 Motorsports Porsche was not having any of it. Finally, in a breathtaking move van den Brink attacked Dornelles around the outside of the last long righthander, door to door, risking a certain DNF if there was contact and made it around to take the lead!
SFH wins the opening race in the SRO LMS GT class. One of the most special victories in our endurance racing career.
#16 - SFH Ferrari F430 - 1st
Next stop: the Nurburgring 6H – 23/6