BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (March 14, 2017) - WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand) are ready for round two of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to run March 18.
The No. 50 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG team is looking to rebound from an early exit from the Rolex 24 hour race six-weeks ago. MacNeil is a former Sebring winner (2012), Jeannette has been on the podium and van Gisbergen will see the 3.5-mile, 17-turn historic Sebring circuit for the first time on Wednesday. Since Daytona the team participated in the IMSA Sebring test four weeks ago. Since then the Mercedes has received a balance of performance (BOP) change that will allow the V8 engine to breathe a little more down the high-speed Sebring run way straights this weekend.
"Our new Mercedes will be strong at Sebring and I'm looking forward to taking the green flag on Saturday morning," MacNeil said. "We had an extremely positive test there a few weeks ago and made strong improvements to the car. We were down a bit on top speed at Daytona and at the Sebring test, which was a bit frustrating. With the latest BOP change we were given a little larger air inlet. This will help our top speed, which is exactly what we needed. Greg Jones [team engineer] and I have won this race before together. I'm looking forward to doing it again on Saturday night with him."
Jeannette has a lot of history at Sebring, but wants a win.
"I'm really happy with how our Mercedes-AMG GT3 performed at Sebring during the IMSA test a few weeks ago," Jeannette said. "It is without a doubt the best GT car I've driven over the bumps around the iconic Sebring concrete runways. This will make life a little easier for Cooper, Shane and myself over the course of 12 hours. The larger restrictor and 20KG of extra weight is a welcome addition to our cars. We've been at a significant top speed disadvantage since the Daytona 24 weekend. This will hopefully allow us to gain some top speed, but sacrifice a bit of braking and cornering performance. The lap time shouldn't really be all that different, but it will allow us to race better.
"Sebring is one of my favorite tracks and I think one of the most challenging in North America. It has so many nuances and just learning where you can drive to avoid bumps in certain corners takes a lot of laps. The track itself changes so much through the race weekend and also through the race with the rubber going down as well as temperature changes. To really get your set-up right there for the race is tricky.
"I grew up coming here watching my Dad's Porsche's race in the GTP days, so I have many fond memories. In 1999 when I was just 16, I actually fueled a car for the 12 hour race, we ended up third in the GTU class just behind David MacNeil, now my team owner! The following year at 17 years old I was behind the wheel of a Porsche GT3-R. I've finished on the podium multiple times, but haven't gotten a win yet. Looking to change that this weekend!"
Australian V8 Supercars Champion van Gisbergen has been busy studying the Sebring layout.
"I have been doing a lot of laps on the iRacing simulator," van Gisbergen said. "Also some footage from the test. When I get to the track on Wednesday I will be doing a track walk with the guys so that as soon as I hit the track on Thursday I will be able to get straight up to speed. My initial thoughts is that it looks very bumpy, but fun. I hope we have good shock absorbers!"
The IMSA WeatherTech Sport Car Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will run March 15-18. The race will be televised on Fox Sports 1 starting at 12 p.m. and airing through the finish at 11 p.m.