SEBRING, Fla. (March 17, 2018) - WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Alessandro Balzan (Italy) and Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City) finished second in the GTD class in this weekend's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 66th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway.
Jeannette, driving the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3, started sixth in the GTD class. He and MacNeil both drove single stints twice in the first four hours, and kept the car in the top five before handing it over to Balzan for a triple stint.
At this point, the race was all about having a consistent car, keeping it on the lead lap, and within striking distance of the GTD class leaders. MacNeil, Jeanette and Balzan all did a great of doing just that. In fact, on lap 188, Balzan drove the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari to the GTD race lead with about five hours remaining. He led the race for nearly 20 laps before teams started to cycle through pit stops and dropped a few spots in the process.
With 45 minutes left in the race, Balzan was behind the wheel. He came out of the team's final pit stop sixth and had some work to do if he was going to give the team any shot to finish on the podium. One-by-one, he surgically made some strategic passes to put the No. 63 Ferrari in the top three with 19 minutes to go. On his final pass of the night, he tucked up underneath a prototype car deep in Turn 1 and successfully passed the No. 33 Mercedes for second place, which is where they finished - 8.169 seconds behind the GTD class winner.
"It was an amazing day for the whole team," MacNeil said. "We didn't have the fastest car out there, but we had the most consistent drivers, pit stops and crew. That is what it takes to run well in this championship. Hats off to Gunnar and Alessandro, they were often the quickest in their stints and drove the wheels off of the car. It feels good to be on the podium in second. There's something about Alessandro, he can really drive this Ferrari. I have the utmost confidence in him and Gunnar."
"I got a great feeling from my three-hour stint early in the day," Balzan said. "I had a really competitive car, especially on sticker tires. I had a lot of confidence under braking and even more going into Turn 17. I want to thank Cooper, he did an amazing job and so did Gunnar. The Scuderia Corsa team was amazing on the pit stops with the car all day. It was a fun race today. The last three years we have been first, second and second. This is a nice result after a tough run at Daytona. The team has a great attitude. They put their head down and improved. We came a long way since Daytona. I am proud of this team effort today."
"Everybody on the 63 WeatherTech Racing team did a fantastic job," Jeannette said. "I don't think we had the quickest car today, but when it really mattered, in the last couple of hours, we had a great race car. We made up some time in the pits. Everyone drove smart, with Alessandro doing a mega last stint to get us up to second place. Cooper put in great stints and I am happy with my drive today as well."
This was the team's first podium finish of the 2018 season.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class returns to action when the series travels to Lexington, Ohio for the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Showdown at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.